The humble toespin is, like a lot of footwork, seemingly simple to do but deceptively hard to do well. I highly recommend you spend time practicing the motion off the board first, getting comfortable with spinning on your front foot, and then take it to a longboard first (if you have one) before attempting it on a freestyle board.
When you do start doing it on a skateboard – whether a longboard or a freestyle board – don’t try doing it stationary. Your weight will shift a lot throughout this trick and a small amount of momentum will help keep the board under you.
From the side you can see how much I lift my heel from the griptape. This is crucial; if my heel touches the deck during the toespin, I’ll either stop dead or spin off-center. Neither situation is ideal.
To begin the toespin, I need to prewind in the opposite direction. We’re going to turn frontside (to the left, if you’re regular-footed like me), so I’m pulling my upper body to the right.
As I start to unwind, creating momentum, I’ve also got to bend my knees slightly in order to compress for the spin.
Here I’ve started to push off with my back foot while simultaneously doing two things; first, I’m straightening my legs, reducing the weight which is pushing into the board. I’m also twisting my torso into the rotation before my feet can follow.
Now the spin starts in earnest. I lift the heel of my front foot and whip into the toespin. Note that my whole body is centred over my front foot; if I lean even slightly in any direction, I’ll push the board away from me and fall off.
This is almost the textbook toespin position. My whole body is well centred, my heel is completely clear of the deck, and I’m spinning cleanly. The only potential issue is I’m slightly further forward on the deck than I’d like, but my weight is still between the trucks, so I’m okay.
As I start to finish the spin, it looks like I’m looking for where to put my back foot, but trust me on this – you won’t be able to spot a landing. At this point I’m totally reliant on trust and intuition. Familiarity with your board is key here.
Notice two things here – first, my gaze is nowhere near my tail. I’m starting to get my back foot in place but I can’t really see it too well. Secondly, my front foot is still twisted. This is pretty common at this point.
Now, with my back foot firmly back on the board, I can almost set my weight back down, by my front leg is still very twisted up…
…which isn’t too much of a problem now. I can swap enough of my weight back to my back foot to loosen the front foot and twist it to a more natural position.
For some reason, when I do toespins, I have a tendency to kickturn slightly frontside after I’ve finished. I’m not sure whether it’s leftover momentum or repositioning my feet, but I’m okay with it. I use it as a way to keep moving and flow into the next piece of footwork.
Whatever you do, don’t rush. This move is about fluidity, and becomes very choppy and messy if you start going too fast. Focus on getting a good, clean toespin and smooth movements rather than speed. This also applies with rolling speed – if you roll into it too quickly, you’re more likely to lose your balance.
At the same time, don’t go too slowly, either. If you don’t roll into this, you won’t have any momentum to transfer into the rotation, and as mentioned above, the board is far more likely to shoot out on you. There’s a definite “sweet spot” for toespins, and that will vary from person to person and setup to setup. Experiment and see where it is for you.
Speaking of setups, you want to make sure your trucks aren’t too loose (a wobbly truck often leads to a wobbly skater where footwork is concerned) and your concave isn’t too steep; the steeper the concave is, the more you’ve got to lift the heel to make sure you don’t snag on it on the way round.
Some folks will suggest removing griptape from the middle of the board to get an easier spin. That works well on a long dancer, but on shorter freestyle boards, it might catch you out; as you can see in the sequence above, my foot shifts a bit through the toespin, and a sharp edge where the griptape ends is an easy way to get stuck mid-spin. I recommend lightly sanding down the griptape in the centre of the board instead to get a more predictable rotation.
Finally, if you’re struggling to get used to spinning like this on a moving board and you have a longboard to hand, I highly recommend watching the video above for instructions on how to do a 360 walkover, which basically breaks the toespin down to two halves. It isn’t something which works well on shorter freestyle boards, but on 36″+ boards with a bit more real estate for your feet, it can give you a decent stepping stone up to the full toespin. If you don’t have a longboard, the turn-in – while spinning in the opposite direction – can provide a similar experience on a shorter board.