August 2004

Developing Flatland Skateboarding

Shortly after coming back from NASS 2004 I started to concentrate more on learning some of the Flatland tricks I had seen, instead of blindly following the usual flips and grinds street style that had up until now absorbed me.

Very quickly I realised just how ‘free’ flatland is. Once comfortable with pivots and shuvits I could do anything with the board – it didn’t seem to matter how small or insignificant the trick – generally I hadn’t seen it before and it felt like my invention. I also began to appreciate the greatness of smoothly stringing together a few tricks – if a trick fits into a line, it doesn’t matter how small or easy the trick itself is, the challenge comes from combining it with a trick either side.

Everything seems to be about getting either the skateboard or myself or both to varial in new and interesting ways. It’s really very difficult to flip the board seamlessly in the middle of a string. Given this, here are some of my recently developed freestyle tricks that I’m particularly pleased with.

Pivot

Ok, this one isn’t mine, I just thought I’d clarify what a pivot is before I delve any further into the article – a turn on the front or rear wheels. This can be accomplished frontside or backside, rolling or stationary. If you don’t know what a shuvit is or how to do one, I also suggest you read the shuvit article.

Corkscrew

Remember that trick I learnt way back when? I wrote about it in the carpet skating article. A shuvit in one direction with a body varial in the other direction, Corkscrew was a made up name. I’ve since discovered that if you do this on a BMX it’s called a Boomerang, so I’m calling it a Boomerang for now. I imagine this is because you ‘throw’ the bike or board out in one direction and because the rider goes the other way, it comes back to you from the other direction… kinda like a boomerang. *Shrugs*. It’s mildly more descriptive than Corkscrew anyway.

As mentioned before, this trick feels very much like a flatland thing, so I’m still doing these now even though I learnt it during my generic street skater days.

Boomerang Pivot

This was something I learnt pretty early on in my experimentation. It’s essentially a quite strange way to accomplish a shuvit – you end up with the same net effect as a shuvit (ie, a skateboard that has done a varial and you still in the same position) but you do lots more work to get there. Undoubtedly though, it looks more technical and you look cooler as a result.

From a basic standing position, you can choose to a boomerang pivot in four ways – backside off the nose, frontside off the tail, frontside off the nose or backside off the tail. Anything off the tail feels like switch. I’m going to start by explaining the frontside off the nose variant because that’s the first type that occurred to me. Remember that I’m goofy, so if I write clockwise, it’ll mean anti-clockwise to the vast majority of you who are regular footed.

1. You need to do a frontside pivot on the front wheels. Stand in nollie stance, with front foot on the nose and back foot over the bolts. Wind backside slightly, then unwind. As you do so, shift your weight on to the nose slightly. This should set you doing the desired pivot.

2. The full pivot is usually going to be 180°, and you’ll end up in switch, but before you get to there, you have to jump back to your regular stance while the board finishes the pivot. You can do this at any point really, but it seems to work best at around 120-140 degrees. At this point, you need to do a backside body varial back to the same position as you started in.

3. The momentum of the pivot will keep the board turning to the 180° mark, at which point you will land back on it neatly and have accomplished a ‘boomerang pivot’. It’s very straight forward. The only problem you may possibly encounter is that your jump off the board interrupts the momentum of the board itself so that it doesn’t turn a full 180°. To stop this from happening, you have to make sure you are also lifting the leading foot (left foot for me, with this variant). It’s natural not to lift that foot since it’s already in the air. If you don’t though you’ll drag the board as you jump back.

The most difficult way of doing this is backside off the tail, however it’s all fairly easy and makes a nice part of a string of tricks.

Pivot Big Spin

This is actually a simpler version of a big spin. The first 180° of the shuvit and the body varial are all done just by doing a pivot. You then tack a shuvit on the end to complete the 360° varial of the board. The difficulty lies in making the transition from the pivot to shove it nice and smooth. Trick tip that follows again assumes you are doing it frontside off the nose. Other variants are much harder.

1. Follow step 1 of the pivot boomerang above.

2. As you rotate with the board crouch down a little as if are going to ollie. Again when you get about two thirds of the way (120°) through the pivot you need to do something – this time a pop shuvit. As long as you’ve already crouched it shouldn’t be a problem making the shuvit a smooth part of the pivot. Five minutes practice and you’ll have this trick nailed.

Fakie Walk The Dog

No point in a trick tip for this one – if you can already walk the dog then it’s a simple enough progression to do it backwards as well. Simply start in your natural stance with your front foot in the middle of the board, and pivot on the back wheels, but instead of turning with the board allow your legs to cross. Then step back into natural and repeat as many times as you can.

360 Dog Shuvit

Now this thing rules. Put this on the end of a string of walk the dogs and you’ll be the shit nuts.

The thing about a walk the dog is there is a lot of momentum generated by unravelling your crossed legs which normally you either simply waste when you stop doing the trick or you actually have to fight against the momentum if you want to do another walk the dog afterwards.

The idea behind this trick is to use that momentum by simply doing a pop shuvit after you unravel your legs. Like the pivot big spin above, the difficulty lies in getting the two movements to look like one, but if you can do it you are effectively doing a 360 shuvit where you start cross-legged.