The fingerflip is one of the most iconic freestyle tricks. Like the kickflip, it was once fairly common in skateboarding in general, but basically got left behind at the start of the 90s. As such, there’s a whole host of fingerflip tricks which we’ll be exploring as time goes on.
Before you even begin thinking about doing this trick, it’s important that you make sure you can do a Tailstop Fingerflip properly. As long as you’ve learned them the way they’re shown in that trick tip, it will be a pretty simple jump from the tailstop fingerflip to this rolling one.
Your starting position for rolling into a fingerflip is not too dissimilar to an ollie – the front foot wants to be in the very center of the board, and the back foot is at the tip of the tail. Don’t worry about being perfectly perpendicular to the deck – as you can see, I angle my front foot slightly for comfort.
The grip with the front hand is much more important. To get the cleanest, snappiest flip, you want to have your fingers underneath the nose, and the thumb to the toeside edge, with a small gap between index finger and thumb. This means your fingers can do most of the work, and not your arm or wrist.
Obviously, this trick happens in a very small space. You really need to ball up to get into position; remember to bend as much as possible at the knees instead of just trying to bend at the back. I’m already pushing down on my thumb and up with my fingers here, preloading the board so it’ll flip as soon as my weight comes off it.
As I start to straighten my legs for takeoff, I transfer my weight back – my hips have shifted slightly further past my back foot. The goal is to go to tail and take off from there in exactly the same way as I did with the tailstop fingerflip – I don’t want to think about anything else at this point.
At this point, I’m basically just doing the tailstop fingerflip. To begin with, expect to stop for a second on the tail before you jump. However, as you can tell from my straightened legs, I’m already jumping slightly here, and my weight is coming off the board, even as I’m shifting it backwards.
As my feet leave the board, the pressure already in my thumb and fingers pushes the board into the flip. It feels a lot like I’m clicking my fingers at this point – the rest of my arm doesn’t do anything. I’m not even picking the nose up past the point where the shift in body weight had raised it to.
This is the top of the fingerflip, and there’s two things to note here: firstly, I’m balled back up in midair. I look very similar to my rolling position. You’ve got to be able to suck your knees up to your chest to get out of the board’s way. Secondly, I’m STILL holding the board. You can get the board about half way round before your fingers have to let go.
Here’s the takeoff viewed from in front. Look at how little movement there is in the front arm; the more you move that arm, the less likely you are to land cleanly on the board. Everything happens in the fingers – hence the name.
At this point, the trick is done. I just hover above it and try to judge when to put my feet down. 90% of this is experience and timing. If you get it right, the flip will be so fast that it’ll be impossible to “spot the griptape and stomp it on the bolts”.
Time to put it down. I extend my legs and catch it grip-side up, stopping the flip dead. It’s very easy to over-flip these if you’re not careful – practice it rolling slowly at first until you get the timing down. You’re so tightly compressed in this trick that there’s no real escape from a bad catch other than falling forwards to the floor.
I push the board back to the ground, and ride away clean. The fact I haven’t grabbed it at the side of the nose or moved my arm during the flip means I’ve landed in the exact same line as I took off from – there’s very little adjustment needed if you’re flipping it right.
With a bit of practice, you can do a rolling fingerflip on pretty much any board, but the energy needed increases as the nose gets steeper. The reason for this is that as the angle of the nose increases, the energy you push into the board gets further and further off the axis of the flip. As such, these are considerably easier on a single kick, and if you find yourself really enjoying rolling fingerflips, it might be worth considering moving over to a flat nosed board.
I can’t emphasise this enough – do not move your arm during this trick. Any movement of your upper or lower arm will cause the board to rotate or move to one side. This is part of the reason people who learned to fingerflip from tail by grabbing the side of the nose sometimes struggle to do these rolling – if you’re throwing the board into the flip, you have to jump slightly to the side to compensate. This is difficult to do when you’re curled up into such a tight ball!
If you’re struggling with the takeoff, try moving your front foot slightly further back to make the shift in weight easier to deal with. If it feels too snappy when you’re going from a rolling position to tail, try the opposite, and move your front foot towards the nose slightly. There’s a lot of trial and error here – the sweet spot will vary based on your own body and board.