Finally, it’s time to tackle a basic flip trick. I always recommend the tailstop fingerflip as the first flip trick people learn as it gets you used to the concept of jumping onto a flipping board without the added difficulty of manipulating a board with your feet or dealing with rolling balance.
That said, this isn’t just a beginner’s trick – providing you learn it correctly, this same movement will translate to the rolling version and get you out of various 50-50 and pogo tricks further down the line. Hell, there’s a whole category of variations stemming from this basic idea.
This is your starting position for this one. Keeping the front foot up in the air instead of on the griptape will help you get clear of the board faster; later on it might be worth practicing taking off with both feet on the board in preparation for rolling into it.
This is the most important part of this whole tip – the hand position. A lot of people will grab at the side of the nose, pulling the board into a flip; this tends to throw the board sideways and makes certain variations impossible. Instead, start with this hand position, and focus on doing the whole flip with your fingers – the thumb pushes down and the fingers pull up, almost like you’re clicking your fingers. The board should flip perfectly along its lengthways axis.
From this angle you can see the key to getting a good, clean flip – the “preload”. Even before I jump, I’m already pushing down on my thumb and up with my fingers, so that as soon as my foot comes off the tail, the board will “snap” into a clean flip. It’s only a small amount of twist in the board, but the potential energy in the deck is huge, and it’ll minimise the work I have to do in the air.
Here we see another reason the front leg is up in the air – I’m swinging it in to create a bit of extra upwards momentum for the jump. Really, it’s only a small hop you need for this trick, but it’s still an awkward position to jump from, so every little bit helps.
Here you can see the preload coming into effect. My back foot has only just left the board, but the deck is already a quarter of the way through the flip, and my thumb and fingers are still pushing through the nose to continue the flip. I’ve also lifted the nose up slightly; this is a natural part of jumping, and not an intentional movement in the arm.
Amazingly, I’m still holding the nose at this point. I didn’t realise until I first got a good quality video of a fingerflip how late you actually let go of it; your thumb and fingers follow the board through at least half the flip before you let go.
Finally, I’ve let go of the board, and my feet are already preparing for landing. At this point the trick is basically done – whether or not you’re going to land it is already determined. The board won’t have moved enough for your back foot to have had to move, and if you’ve swung in the front foot properly, it should be right above the front truck bolts, meaning the only factor left is the speed of the flip, which is now literally out of your hands.
Honestly, I thought about reshooting this at a higher shutter speed to get a cleaner frame here, but the blur really shows two things – not only is the board REALLY flipping quickly, but my hand literally hasn’t moved at all. Your front arm should be almost completely still, and your fingers do all the work. If you’ve moved your arm to try to get the flip, the board is going to rotate, and won’t land under you properly.
This is the classic “catch it on the bolts” image. Really, if you’re throwing it right, there won’t be a whole lot of spotting needed – just extend your legs, and providing your timing is right, the board should be there. Hopefully.
If you go back and compare this with the starting position, you should notice the board hasn’t rotated at all. That bodes well for doing it rolling later on.
For this tip, I’m using a double kick with very mellow kicktail angles. As noted in the upper right of this page, you really want to avoid using a board with steep kicktails, as it takes more force to create a fingerflip the further the nose angle is from the axis of the flip. A board with a flat nose is perfect for these, but a mellow kicknose will also work.
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