You’d think the rolling switchblade needs some experience with the regular one, but oddly, I think that not only is knowing the normal switchblade not necessary, but it might actually give you some bad habits that will get in the way of the rolling one; the last thing you want is to slam the nose down when you’re rolling!
Here’s your ideal foot position to start the switchblade. The more perpendicular the front foot is to the deck, the better/more dynamic the trick will look; the more parallel it is, the easier the trick will be. Aim for this 45º position where possible to get the ideal middle ground between the two.
I’m not going to show each moment of this set-up step, but here I’ve finished the first 180 and am getting ready for to start the rolling switchblade properly. Notice I’m lifting up the heel of my back foot before I start the turn…
…so that as I move through the 180 off the tail to come back to a regular stance, I can twist my front foot into position for the switchblade. This is where some experience with walk the dogs will come in handy!
Now I’ve found myself roughly in the starting position shown in frame 1, but the monster walk that led up to this has helped me get my torso in the right position, too. I’m already bending my knees to “unweight” for the shuvit and leaning forwards slightly to ensure I don’t fling the board away as I do it.
At this point, I start the backside shuvit motion – but there needs to be a couple of modifications. Firstly, I’m straightening my legs instead of just jumping upwards to get my weight off the board without leaving it altogether. Secondly, I’m continuing to lean forward, keeping my weight above the deck as it spins.
This is the most difficult part of the whole sequence – and where you’ll always go wrong when learning this. Front-to-back weight distribution is the first hurdle; lean too far back, you’ll push the board away. Lean too far forward and the board won’t come round enough…
…but you’ve also got to stay in contact with the griptape the whole time. The board has been spinning around under my front foot, and I’m trying to let my shoe slide across the grip with just enough friction to let it complete the rotation.
From a different (and closer) angle, you can probably get an idea of how fine this balance has to be. I’m still touching the grip, and my foot is still between the trucks… but two wheels are still off the floor. Getting this sensitivity right will take ages, but persevere – it’s worth it!
Once I know the board has come round a full 180º (which is a decision you’ll make more on timing, knowledge and feeling than being able to see it – it’ll happen too fast), I have to put my weight back onto my front leg to stop it over-rotating. At the same time, my back leg is crossing over to the nose…
…to basically do a walk the dog. You should know how this works: keep the heel up, modulate your weight between the two feet, and spin the board around on two wheels while pushing the front foot forwards.
The catch is that due to the way you whipped the board around, your weight (and front foot!) is likely to be further back than you’re used to on walk the dogs, so you might need to lean forward a bit to compensate…
…and while leaning forward, you probably also want to slide your front foot slightly to make sure you end up roughly over the bolts when the turn is done. There’s lots of griptape-sliding here – expect to burn through some shoes!
Like with the slingblade, FORM MATTERS. But while the slingblade had the possibility for laziness, the rolling switchblade doesn’t. If you try to half-arse this with under-rotations at any point, you’re going to fall over. It is a fickle and demanding mistress, but one that is very much worth your time. Trust me on that.
With that in mind, while you do need to be rolling with this trick (it isn’t going to flow at all if you try to do it stationary – and it does have the word “rolling” in the name, for god’s sake!), it’s entirely possible to do it at any speed once you’re comfortable with it. Start slow, but once you can get a perfectly clean 180 shuvit in the switchblade motion, pick up the speed a little bit – it’ll actually help you balance for a split second as momentum will keep everything going in the same direction.
(Then, if you really want to test yourself, do it as fast as you physically dare – there’s no better way to be totally certain you’ve learned a rolling trick cleanly!)
As far as board setups go: like all shuvit- and pivot-based moves, something shorter and with mellower kicktails will go a long way to making this easier. The steep kicktails on something like a street deck might help you get ollies further off the ground, but they mean you need to be a lot heavier-footed to move things around, and that makes it much harder to flow smoothly. The same is true with longer boards – they have a lot more rotational inertia, meaning the shuvit will move slower and be more difficult to throw. Add in the cross-step part of the switchblade and longer (30″+) boards are going to make this a nightmare unless you have freakishly long legs.
Steep concave also isn’t going to be your friend as it’ll give you more to snag on as your foot slides across the griptape mid-way through the sequence. You don’t necessarily need a completely concave-free deck for this, but it will definitely help.
I’d also recommend loosening up your trucks slightly if you’re going to be doing this at speed. It’s a fine line to walk, of course – too loose and you have no stability, but too tight and you have very little room for error after the shuvit section is over. A little bit of carve will go a long way to both keeping you on the board and helping this flow.
Finally, if you don’t understand (or can’t get to grips with) the way you “unweight” yourself to let the board move smoothly beneath you, have a look at the tricktip for the rail whipback. While at first glance it may seem unrelated, the technique used to spin the board out without losing contact with it is functionally the same in many ways.