The 180 fingerflip – or “varial fingerflip”, in modern terms – is a fun trick. You don’t often see them done with the back hand, but I think they’re a lot easier to do this way, especially at speed. It’s also a lot easier to go from these to the 360 fingerflip if you use the back hand, but don’t just write this one off as a stepping-stone – it’s a fast, snappy trick that fits perfectly into a line of rolling tricks.
It should go without saying that before you begin with this one, you want to make sure you can do the rolling fingerflip. Although we’re using a different hand to the regular fingerflip, the basic principles are much the same.
Unlike most fingerflip tricks, you want to be facing the nose for this one. Have your front foot positioned on the heelside edge between the trucks, and the back foot on the toeside edge of the tail. This foot positioning helps the board get out from under your feet quickly.
The hand position should be the same as for any other fingerflip, only using the back hand. Thumb on top, fingers underneath, and in the centre of the nose. Leave a small gap between the thumb and index finger, and press into the nose with the thumb and fingers before you even take off.
You’re going to be in a tight ball rolling into this trick. Squat low with the knees bent to avoid having to bend the back too much. Personally, I find this an easier position to take off from than a front handed fingerflip, but your mileage might vary.
The take off works the same as a rolling fingerflip; you shift your weight backwards rather than trying to just jump straight up. Imagine you’re just going to go to tail while holding the nose – that’s the real key to this trick.
Thanks to the foot positioning, my weight comes off the board very quickly, and my body starts naturally unwinding. I don’t really have to do much with my back arm – it’s just going to come back on its own as my body tries to return to its natural position.
Here you can see the fingers doing the work. A good fingerflip will only involve the thumb and fingers working in opposition – my hand isn’t throwing the board into the flip. This keeps the board controlled through the rotation.
Compare this frame with the last few. My hand has let go of the board at this point, and the board is going through the motions of a 180 fingerflip already – but look at how little that arm has moved. I’m also sucking my knees up to my chest, as the nose of the board is coming up quite high, and I need to get out of the way.
This is basically the highest point of the trick, and I’m balled up as tight as possible above it. My hips are slightly rotating to come back in line with the board, ready for the landing, but my chest is still facing forwards at this point.
Back handed fingerflips tend to pop up a bit more than front handed ones, so you’re actually going to have to catch this. I always seem to catch these (and 360 fingerflips) with the front foot; either way, just extend the legs and put it down.
This isn’t the prettiest position to be in, but it really shows how tight everything is in mid-air – even as I’m pushing the board down to the ground, my thighs and knees are right next to each other.
I roll away, still facing forwards, body still slightly twisted from the fingerflip. I used to like doing these into a kickflip variation of some sort for that reason; the two trick groups work quite well together.
One last frame before we’re finished here. Viewed from above, you can see how the arm movement works. My upper arm barely moves – really, the only rotation in the arm comes from straightening my elbow out. It doesn’t take much to get a 180º spin; a lot of it comes from just picking the nose up and getting the board fairly vertical on take off.
Back handed fingerflips – whether 180, 360, or bigspin – are a bit of an unusual beast. They’re the only fingerflip trick where I really recommend using a double kick board; reaching down to a flat nose for this makes it feel much more uncomfortable.
Board length, ride height and kicktail angle will all play a factor here, too. The longer the board, the more you’ll have to bend over, and the less comfortable you’ll feel. A taller setup or one with steeper nose and tail will be at a steeper angle before it leaves the floor and will feel heavy to throw. No matter what you use, this trick should work – it’s just worth trying it on multiple different setups if you have an opportunity to see how the setup affects the way the trick feels.
As mentioned in the video, this trick really needs some speed going into it. The take off will stop you dead if you’re rolling too slow, and it becomes much easier to break through the friction between the tail and the floor if you’re travelling at speed. For similar reasons, they’re much easier on smooth surfaces than rough ones.
It should go without saying that you probably want to have skid plates before you start trying this. I learned them on street boards in the mid-2000s when freestyle equipment was hard to come by; trust me when I say that tearing the fleshy underside of your finger open on a razortailed nose is not a fun experience.