4th August 2003

How To Kickflip

The kickflip is the definitive street skating trick. It was one of the first modern street tricks ever to be invented (by none other than Rodney Mullen) and it remains one of the most popular today. A good smooth kickflip is a beauty to behold, and with dozens of variations out there, learning a basic kickflip enables a skateboarder to really their skills.

But how do you go about doing one?

I know only too well how difficult a kickflip seems at first. However, let me reassure you by saying that it really isn’t as hard as it seems when you first start contemplating doing one. The one thing to keep in mind is that this is not a separate move to an ollie. It is a variation on the basic ollie. This is something that I did not realise for a relatively long period of time, having come to the sport via Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2, where the kickflip is executed after ollying. Central to the kickflip then, is everything you’ve already learnt about ollying. If you haven’t already, you might want to read this article on ollies.


The most important thing about kickflipping, like ollying is to remember to jump! You must concentrate on jumping high and forwards, even more so than with the ollie.

1. Foot positioning helps. It’s easier to flip the board if the heel of your leading foot is hanging off the edge, leaving just the front half of your shoe on the skateboard. Like with an ollie, you must crouch. The lower you crouch the more force you can generate when you come to jump.

2. JUMP! Jump forwards and up off your back foot. It is imperative that you stay above the board by jumping forwards and up if you want to land a kickflip. If you do not stay above the board, it will shoot forwards, sideways, everywhich way except staying in place, because of the extra flick you will give it with your leading foot.

3. That flick comes now, and is a variation on the foot slide in the normal ollie. It is more powerful and more extensive than the usual foot slide you will get with an ollie. Really try and flick your toes outwards to get the board to spin as fast as possible. The flick should be aimed slightly to the side, though this may well come automatically if you position your foot as stated in step 1.

One thing you must not do is kick downwards. Lots of people will tell you to do this because it’s easier to flip the board by kicking downwards – this is true, however it’s bad technique and will only get you in all sorts of trouble. For a start, if you kick downwards your foot is now underneath the board – how are you planning on landing on it now?

4. I cannot stress how important it is to stay above the board. That flick with your front foot will send the skateboard out of your reach every time if you do not hover above the board. This means you have to have the guts to commit to the trick. Note – I haven’t hurt myself once doing kickflips except when I didn’t commit to them – if you commit, your chances of an awkward landing are much lower.

5. As with the ollie, remember to pull your back foot up out of the way so the board has room to rise. Watch the board spin beneath your feet and as it comes round bring your feet back onto the deck to stop it spinning. This is known as ‘catching’ the skateboard.

6. That’s it! Once you’ve caught the skateboard it’s just like stomping down an ollie – all the difficulty is in getting the first part of the kickflip nice and smooth.

You will quickly discover that landing a kickflip, while pretty cool, isn’t the real battle. The real battle is landing them smoothly and consistently and this will take a lifetime. Don’t be fooled by all the skate videos out there where kickflips are busted out left right and centre seemingly without effort – like any other trick, even the pros fail kickflips.

Sex Change

Welcome to bizarrely named skateboarding tricks 101! A sex change is a kickflip variation involving a kickflip and a simple body varial, landing in switch. I really like this trick and I practice it a lot. The trick tip below refers to a frontside sex change – I’ve never even tried a backside version and it would be a lot more difficult.

You need to be comfortable with your basic kickflip, or at least have landed a few, in order to progress to this trick.

1. Start in your kickflip position as before, but wind up a little frontside. This is to get a ‘headstart’ on the body varial.

2. Jump nice and high off your back foot as usual. You need to push yourself 180° without popping the skateboard in the opposite direction, so be concious not to scrape the tail back as you jump.

3. Once unusual thing about a sex change is the fact that by the time you would normally be flicking your foot off to the side to do a kickflip you will be actually facing forwards due to your body varial. Because of this, you now kick forwards with your front foot as if you were toe punting a football. This will level out the skateboard and cause it to flip.

The motion your front foot should make after kicking forwards is an arc bringing it back round and towards the back of your skateboard as you carry on turning your body varial.

4. Catch the board as usual and land. You have the option of landing in switch or fakie depending on where you catch the board.

Please note that above is my interpretation of a sex change. You could do it a different way by doing a normal kickflip and then using momentum generated by your arms try and turn your body varial afterwards. However, my way is easier and I think more stylish.

Pretzelflip & More…

As mentioned before there are dozens of other variations on the humble kickflip. Rather than try and write trick tips for tricks I can’t land myself, I will simply refer you to some tricktionary entries than may be of interest – if anybody can land these and would consider writing a trick tip article for Board Crazy, please get in touch.