The switchblade can basically be viewed as a variant on the regular shuvit, requiring a deft touch and a quick shifting of the feet. It’s relatively simple, and as such, crops up in a lot of “easy freestyle trick” compilations” on YouTube – which also means the act of teaching it often gets glossed over, too. As such, I’ve been meaning to cover it for a while.
However, I never really got around to perfecting this one, so I’m handing over to Aaron Watts, a freestyler from London, who agreed to meet me on a windy hillside and tell me – and the internet – how this one works. Thanks, Aaron.
Aaron starts with his back foot straight across the tail, roughly in an endover position. His front foot position is more important; the ball of the foot is in the centre of the nose, and the foot is loosely at a 45º angle.
He rolls into the switchblade slowly, focusing on the front foot position. Notice that his stance is slightly open, shoulders facing the nose a little. This trick won’t work well with a purely sideways posture.
As he begins the switchblade motion, Aaron bends at the knees, keeping his weight forward. If you don’t lean forwards, the board will shoot out away from you.
At this point, the trick looks just like a regular shuvit; the toes of the front foot have pushed down on the nose, and Aaron’s back foot whips the tail behind him.
Here’s the difference. The heel of Aaron’s front foot is up high enough to let the board pass by, but the toes have pressed the nose into the floor. Weight distribution is everything at this point – if you’re too heavy on the front foot, the board will stop short of the 180. If you’re too light, the board will fly off into the distance.
Once the board finishes the 180, Aaron finishes putting his weight down on his front foot to stop the board dead. He’s also leaning forward at this point; he has to be ready to hop back to a regular riding position in a second.
This is the point where you can start playing around, finishing the switchblade in various ways. For this trick tip, Aaron is going to finish the step with a regular hop back to the grip, so his back foot is coming back towards the nose so he can switch feet.
Getting the timing right on this part is key; there’s no room for both feet on the nose, but if you jump too soon, you’ll lose control of the board. You’ve got to be quick, and make the transition flow.
Aaron hops up, only leaving contact with the board for a split second as his back foot replaces his front one on the lowered end of the board. He’s leaning towards the raised end slightly, preparing to level the board out.
With the back foot firmly planted on the board, Aaron moves his front foot up, spacing his feet back out to a regular riding position.
Having connected with the griptape at the bolts, Aaron is basically going to “drop in”, straightening the front leg out while he keeps his weight slightly forward. Don’t lean back or you’ll shoot the board out.
Having finished the switchblade, Aaron can now start thinking about the next piece of footwork in his routine.
We had a bit of discussion about this one while we filmed, and while it’s simple enough to work on most boards, Aaron decided a flatter nose and a lower setup will probably help, as there’s less time before the nose hits the floor.
I suspect that plastic skid plates will also make this a bit easier, as they’ll reduce friction, especially on rougher surfaces. They’re definitely recommended just for protective purposes anyway; all this spinning around on the nose will wear the board away pretty quickly without them.
In my own personal experience, I find that the placement of the front foot determines how clean the switchblade is. Make sure the ball of the foot is central on the nose. I often have my foot too far to one side, which makes my switchblades look unstable at best, or results in my foot hanging off and touching the floor at worst. Remember: #footdowndontcount.
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