The “turn in” may have had another name, once upon a time. However, like a lot of footwork, this little movement has gone somewhat overlooked and forgotten about, and any name it once had has been lost, as far as I’m aware. It’s a shame, because it’s a fun little motion, and while nowadays you’re more likely to see it done by a longboard dancer, it fits very well into freestyle routines and lines.
In many ways, it’s a vast improvement on the Walk the Dog, as it tends to work better while rolling; it doesn’t force you to slow down as much. That said, if you link the turn in, the walk the dog, and endovers – which you should already know by now – the combinations are pretty limitless.
Remember to take it slowly, though – it takes some time to get everything looking smooth, and rushing will make this a lot harder than it needs to be. It’s much easier to start slow and smooth than it is to tidy up choppy footwork you learned badly to begin with. Trust me on that – I learned that lesson the hard way!
You’re going to want to start in a relatively forward-facing position, with your front foot angled as shown above. If your front foot is too straight, you won’t have space to turn, and if it’s too sideways, you won’t be able to spin on your heel.
Here you can see the position my shoulders are in. We’re going to be turning around a lot during this move, so they won’t stay like this for long.
To begin the turn in, I start spinning my front foot at the heel, lifting the toes and turning it towards the back foot. I have to keep the ball of my foot off the grip for this to work.
Look at the position of the deck – as I’ve been spinning on the front foot, I actually push down slightly on the back foot and push it forwards, creating a slight frontside turn. This both generates momentum and reduces the amount I have to turn in.
As the front foot finishes its 180º turn, I put my toes back down and remove my back foot from the tail. It’s important at this point that I’m facing backwards so I can keep turning, and my weight has to be directly over that front foot or my board will shoot out.
Now I begin to unwind, moving the back foot around the side to reach the nose of the board. I also start moving my back shoulder backwards, too. This will help with the next part of the move.
At this point, you can see my shoulders are following my back foot round, and my back foot is about to find the nose of the board. I can’t look down to find it with my eyes – that will throw my balance off – so I need to know, intuitively, where the nose will be.
This is probably the most important frame in the sequence, and what makes the turn in work. As I swap my weight to the back foot to begin an endover, I also lift the heel of my front foot and start twisting it around, ready to repeat the sequence.
From here on out, I’m basically just doing a regular endover, turning backside on two wheels to come back to a forwards position. If you’re learning the turn in, this bit should feel quite natural at this point.
The catch – the only difference between this and a regular endover – is that I’m still just on the toes of my front foot as I push through this turn. My heel isn’t far from the griptape, but it’s still able to move freely.
Annoyingly, there’s a small movement here which is hidden by my right knee, but this moment is why I kept my heel off the griptape. At this point, I have to make sure I’m in the right position to repeat the turn in, so I’m going to angle my front foot slightly before the front wheels go down.
And now the turn in is complete. Thanks to the small movement in the previous frame, I’ve ended in almost exactly the same position I started in, which leaves me ready to repeat the whole sequence again if needed.
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 good clean turns and complete 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 and fall over backwards.
On a related note, when I first started learning this, that little frontside push in frame four kept catching me out. While it helps smooth things out, it also generates a surprising amount of momentum; if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself going faster and faster the more you repeat the sequence. Try to resist that as much as possible.
At the same time, don’t go too slowly, either. If you don’t roll into this, you won’t have the momentum to transfer into the rotation, and if you pause after each section of the move, you’ll be fighting inertia rather than flowing naturally. There’s a definite “sweet spot” for this sequence, and that will vary from person to person. Experiment and see where it is for you.
As far as board setup goes, 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 kicktails aren’t too steep; the steeper the kicktails are, the more effort you need to put in to the 180º pivots, and the more laboured and jerky this will look. Concave will also be more of a hinderance than a help here, and a board that’s completely flat in the middle will make moving around much easier.