So you have your new skateboard, and you’ve been watching all the pros in the videos rip huge tricks over massive gaps. Kickflips, heelflips, 180’s and 360’s: What you might have noticed about all of these is that they’re built off the most basic trick in skateboarding-the ollie. Without a good ollie, neither your board nor your skateboarding will be getting off the ground.
Thankfully, an ollie is four steps simple!
How to do an Ollie:
1. Before you can even practice an ollie, you’ll want to get your stance right. Your front foot should be just behind the bolts on the front truck, with just a little bit of your heel hanging off the rail. Your back foot should be pointed and set on the tail of the skateboard, ready to pop down with as much force as possible. It’s worth noting here that you can learn to do an ollie while both stationary or moving, though most riders will suggest you learn it while moving. This is to prevent against learning any bad habits, such as turning in the air and landing crooked. Since you’ll be using an ollie while moving anyway, it’s a good idea to learn the trick as you’ll be using it. However, if you feel more comfortable stationary, go with that. Whatever helps you learn the trick is what’s best for you.
2. Now that your stance is good, you’ll want to work on popping the board. First, you’ll want to crouch down as much as possible. The further down you bend your knees, the more power you’ll have behind your ollie, and the more height. From the crouching position, spring upward, and slam your back foot down on the tail. As soon as you pop the tail down, you’ll want to be jumping up, so that the board will follow you into the air. Getting this motion right-popping the board while simultaneous jumping-takes a lot of practice, and until you get the motion down, will feel very unnatural.
3. Once you are in the air, you’ll want to focus on dragging your front foot from behind the bolts to the nose. What you want your foot to do is roll inward slightly, and then drag the side of your shoe against the grip and up the board. If you land and your foot is at the tip of the nose, don’t worry. This is a good sign, as it means you’re pulling your foot as high up as possible. What’s happening during this part of the ollie is you’re using your shoe and the griptape to lift the board into the air. This is what keeps the board “glued” to your feet, and what lets you jump high enough to clear obstacles, ledges, and rails. This is the hardest part of the ollie, and will take lots of practice to get right. Again, once you have the motion, and can remember exactly how it feels to do it, this step should come naturally.
4. Now that you’re in the air and the board-hopefully-is along for the ride, you’ll want to level everything out. To do this, simply pull your knees closer to your chest at the apex of your jump. Not only does this get the board as high as possible, but it levels out the wheels. After this, gravity will start to pull you down, and if you’ve kept the board straight, your wheels should land evenly and roll away. Of all the steps, this is the most natural, as it’s a simple continuation of the jumping motion started in step two.
The most common error while doing an ollie is turning the chest and shoulders. Focus on keeping your body as straight as possible, preferably in line with the board. This ensures that your center of gravity is directly over the deck, and keeps you from landing crooked. If the board turns too much during your ollie, you’ll land sideways and bite it. Practicing this while moving can often prevent any turning, but for some people it may make the problem worse. Always go with what works best for you.
Now that you understand the mechanics of the ollie, get outside and go practice it! The ollie is arguably the hardest trick to learn, and no one gets it right off the bat. It will take many hours of work, but once you have it you’ll never forget. Get a friend to watch your form and give you pointers. Work on jumping over cardboard boxes, or old decks. Setting goals like this will not only keep you motivated, but give you something to judge your progress by. Long story short, no one gets this without learning the motions and knowing how they feel.
As always, good luck, and happy skating!
Steve Cave, “How to Ollie on a Skateboard.” About.com