Learn to Skateboard

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Skateboarding has come a long way. For decades, it was seen as a juvenile activity and skateboarders were perceived as outcasts who simply vandalized public property. The general public never acknowledged the skill, precision and dedication it takes to learn this athletic “art form.”

Pushing down the sidewalk is relatively easy, but learning the numerous tricks and maneuvers takes years and years of practice. Even someone like skateboarding legend Tony Hawk can’t do every trick in the book.

If modern skateboarding could be broken down and analyzed, many pros would agree that an ollie is the fundamental maneuver that any skater has to learn first. It’s an essential move for everything, from hopping up on curbs to doing a 20-stair handrail.

In this do-it-yourself slideshow feature, you can learn how to do an ollie. Remember, it takes lots of practice to learn, and it has been said that it takes most dedicated skaters up to a year to really perform a controlled ollie.

Please Note: Channel One recommends that anyone attempting these moves should be fully protected with a helmet, elbow and knee pads.

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Invented in the late '70s by a Florida skater named Alan "Ollie" Gelfand, an ollie is how a skater makes his or her board "jump." It's easiest to learn the ollie on flat, open concrete. Do not practice on an incline, as your board will just roll around everywhere and you'll be pulling your hair out in no time.

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Many people try to learn how to ollie while standing still on their board; however, taking several pushes and having a little speed seems to help the balance process. Therefore, the ollie apprentice should place the ol' foot on the ground and cast off at a slow to moderate speed.

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    While rolling, the positioning of the feet is crucial to the Ollie:
  • The front foot should be at least several inches behind the front bolts, but not so far back to where you will lose balance. Your front heel should be hanging off the board, and your front foot should be at a slight angle.
  • The back foot should be on the tail of the board, with most of the pressure applied in the toe area.

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Once you get some speed going and have your feet in the right position, it's time to bend those knees. Having good compression is key to a high ollie.

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As a rule, the higher you want to ollie, the more you should compress. However, this does not mean you should crouch into a fetal position. Generally speaking, the back knee is bent slightly more than the front, and is angled forward so you are rolling in an almost knock-kneed position.

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    Your feet are in position and your knees are bent, and the moment of truth has finally arrived: It's time to ollie. The actual ollie is like a quick burst, and you can't hesitate or the maneuver will not work.
  • With your knees bent, rapidly shift your weight towards your back foot.
  • Then, quickly kick the tail of the board towards the ground, which will in turn cause your body to straighten up.
  • You should hear and feel the tail snap.

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At the precise moment the tail snaps, you need to simultaneously kick your front foot forward while quickly lifting your back foot. Your front foot should be angled like a karate kick, and the board is scooped off the ground by the side of the front foot. The ollie is basically a very quick step, kick and a hop -- where you step with your back foot, kick with your front foot, and then hop up with both feet in rapid succession.

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Once you're in the air, try to level the board into an even, horizontal position. This will give you more control and allow for a better landing. Gravity will pull you back down to earth.

When your wheels touch the ground, be happy that you pulled an ollie and try to roll away stylishly without your arms flailing and your feet dragging on the ground.

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"Geez... How am I ever going to learn this," you must be thinking. Contrary to how it looks, the ollie is very difficult to learn. The timing of everything is crucial, and you will not get off the ground unless everything is syncronized perfectly. But once you get it, it will become second nature. Stay focused and keep practicing.

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In skateboarding, style is everything, and great pros such as Guy Mariano, Tom Penny and Donny Barley all have a signature style. Remember to be creative with skateboarding. Don't just copy everyone else's tricks; try to come up with your own way of doing things. One pro who comes to mind is Mark Gonzales, who has always been very inventive on his board. He is regarded by many as the most influential street skater ever.

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