The casper is one of the most iconic tricks in freestyle – and often one of the most badly done. For some reason, people seem to think that it’s acceptable to put a foot on the floor during a casper; the real goal is to balance it and keep both feet off the floor, and you won’t be able to do some of the more exciting variations smoothly unless you follow that basic rule.
Note that I do my caspers on the tail, with my front foot underneath the board. Some people find nose caspers (with the back foot under the board) easier. Do whichever you find comfortable – there’s no real downside to either position – and just reverse the instructions below if needed.
Here’s the starting position for the front foot. It’s important that it starts about level with the front truck, as it’s going to spin in from this point to hold the nose up.
And this is what your feet should look like from in front. That back foot hook is very important – you’re going to be pulling it over to the casper, not just flipping-and-catching.
To begin the trick, I’ve got to compress by bending at the knees. The compression will help you pick the board up once the tail hits the floor, as you’ll be slightly weightless as you straighten your legs. It’s almost like jumping, only you won’t actually leave the floor.
Here I’m starting to straighten my legs, pushing down on the front foot and pulling the back foot up and towards me, tipping the board over with it. If I was a little further forward, I could land on the back wheel and sit in rail instead.
Here you see the importance of the back foot position. The board is now totally on its side, and the back foot is rolling over to the underside of the tail, having never left contact with the board.
This is the same position, viewed from the other side. My front foot is still pointing at the nose; beginners often try to do this trick with the front foot perpendicular to the board, but this method is more likely to cause the front foot to hit the floor (and the board to hit your shins). This way I have full control of the deck throughout the movement as my foot is always in contact with the griptape.
Back to the front, and you can see my back foot is now completely on the underside of the tail, positioned close to the back truck. You don’t want to get into the habit of letting that foot touch the floor if you can help it – if you start working on casper spins, it’s going to stop you from rotating cleanly.
From the other side, you can see my front foot is finally twisting to the casper position, letting the board roll across the top of the foot. The toes haven’t really left the spot they started in – the foot’s just rotated around. This also helps prevent foot bruising, as there’s no sudden impact to the top of the foot.
Finally, we’re in a solid casper position, with both feet off the floor. Notice my weight is shifted noticeably further back – this is important to help keep the nose up. Your navel/belly-button/crotch should be roughly above the back foot. If you’re struggling to balance, trying rolling slowly backwards as you start the trick – when the deck hits the floor and stops you rolling, the nose will lift of its own accord, as that momentum has to go somewhere.
Okay, time to come out. There are obviously multiple ways of coming out of a casper, but the easiest way is just scissoring the board with your feet, so it goes end-over-end. Here I’m lifting the front foot while my weight is still on the back foot, ready to jump up and let the board come back to a rolling position.
After the board gets to a tipping point, I jump slightly into the air and continue pulling the front foot up and towards the back foot, guiding the board round to the wheels. Once the back foot has left the board, I pull it slightly behind me to get it out of the way; don’t do this too early, or you’ll end up dragging the board with you.
As the flip finishes, my front foot is still in contact with the griptape; it’s pushed the deck back the right way round, so now it just has to push down slightly, ready for the landing. The back foot, still airborne, can come back into line with the deck and front foot now that the board is out the way. Notice my weight distribution is back to normal at this point; the chances are that your front foot will pull the board towards where you were leaning anyway, but remember to recenter yourself in mid-air!
The chances are you’ll catch your caspers like this – the front foot will come down first, having done all the work. The back foot is only fractionally behind, but in this frame, it looks like I could roll away on one leg.
Finally, both feet have found the griptape, and I’m in a solid riding position, ready for another trick.
The board I’m using here is a double-kick deck I designed with caspers in mind. It has low kicktail angles to make it easier to stand on, and absolutely no concave, reducing the pain in the top of the foot. A good single kick deck with a decent sized flat nose and no concave would also be a good choice for this trick; although it will work with almost any setup, a deck with no concave will make your life a lot easier.
If you plan on doing a lot of caspers, it’s worth putting some griptape on the underside of the tail to make it a bit easier to stand on. I also highly recommend putting short woodscrews into the top of your board along the end of the tail. This will stop you wearing away the top of the board. Just don’t use them if you skate indoors a lot, as you’ll absolutely ruin a polished floor!