I’ve always found the fakie frontside M80 unusually comfortable to do, and was surprised to see one highlighted via slo-mo at the start of Rodney Mullen’s section in the Muenster Mastership edit from 1990. To me, this trick felt like no big deal, and not worthy of being put in slow motion. I think the reason most people struggle is because it’s totally blind – you need to have complete familiarity in your board – and you need your shoulders locked in a specific position for it to work. But once you’ve got past that, there’s not a lot to it.
Before you begin, make sure you can do a kickflip smoothly – the original one, not the ollie one – and the M80 kickflip will help you understand the mechanisms at play. A familiarity with the jaywalk will also help.
I’m rolling backwards here, and it’s important my posture is under control. If I lean forwards and my centre of gravity goes past my toes, the board will shoot out, and I’ll fall on my face. At the same time, I’m looking at the nose of the board, which locks my shoulders into a forward-facing position.
Even though the board is only doing one flip, I need to compress decently before I begin the trick. I’ll need time to re-orientate my legs to catch the board for the frontside turn.
I take off just like any other kickflip – as I press down on my front foot, I leap upwards and slightly to the side, flicking the hooked back foot towards my front one.
As the board begins the flip, note that I’m still staring at the nose. It’s important you keep your shoulders locked in position throughout this trick, and that solid gaze helps anchor them there.
As the board gets past the half-way point of the flip, I start twisting at the hips, rotating my legs. At this point I could just land in a regular stance and ride away fakie – but the shoulder position is going to make me want to turn frontside every time.
Here’s where things start to get interesting. My back foot has to go a little bit further back to find the tail. At the same time, I have to keep my shoulders in their starting position so that I can push through a 180º turn on the landing.
Despite being completely in my blind spot, my back foot has connected with the tail. The front foot is still hanging in the air, ready to reconnect with the griptape. Quite often, I’ll feel the board slap up into my front foot as my back one pushes the tail down.
As I push through the frontside 180º, I’ll reach this point where my body and torso come back into line. It’s fairly common to stop here (or not long after). We’ve got to push past this moment so that we can complete the 180º rotation.
With only a small amount of rotation left to go, I find myself with body heavily twisted in the opposite direction. I could set it down here and still roll away, but if I can push a little bit further, it’ll feel and look a lot better overall.
Once I’ve gone the full 180º, I push the front foot down, and can roll away backwards comfortably, despite how twisted I’ve ended up. This is one of my favourite feelings in freestyle, but it took me some time to get comfortable with rolling away completely blind!
A lot of the issues you’ll have with the fakie frontside M80 are shared with the regular M80 kickflip, but there are a few new things to consider.
If the board is rotating: your feet aren’t starting out in the right position. They need to be perfectly balanced, side-by-side. Most people end up spinning the board backside (clockwise for a regular footer); if this is happening, your hooked back foot is too far back, and needs moving towards the nose. You might even want to have your back foot slightly in front of your front one if you still can’t stop it rotating.
If you’re landing in front of the board: if you dip your head too far or lean forwards while setting up for the trick, the board will shoot out behind you. This is true during the take-off, too; any lean towards the nose will push the board backwards as you jump. Try to make sure you jump straight upwards and to the side.
If you’re falling over a lot: don’t lean back. Never lean back. This trick will dump you out the back of the board and put you on your arse if you’re not careful. There’s no nicer way of saying it. If you lean back, you will fall over.
If you can’t find the tail: it could be that you’re jumping slightly towards the nose, pushing it behind you. But it’s also likely that your board is too long; the longer the board is, the further you’re going to have to stretch to find the tail, and considering how twisted up your body is, that stretch is going to make it a lot more difficult.
If the 180 seems impossible: make sure you’re not returning your shoulders to a regular riding stance. They need to face the nose all the way through the trick – even as you roll away. Any other shoulder position will kill the 180 dead.
If the 180 feels heavy: you’re probably using a board with a steep kicktail. The steeper the kicktail, the more effort a board takes to move through an endover, and this trick will really highlight the need for extra energy. It’s not impossible to do – but you will need to force it a lot more.
If you’re never quite making a full 180º spin: there’s a good chance you’re going too slow. This is a very picky trick. Go too fast and it’ll fly out of control. Go too slowly, however, and you’re going to struggle to get a clean 180 turn after the flip. Play around until you find the sweet spot.
If you’re finding it hard to get a clean takeoff: tighten your trucks. You don’t have to lock your kingpin nut way down, but a super-floppy setup will be really uncomfortable and make learning this trick far more effort than it needs to be. You also risk wheelbite catching the board to pivot if your trucks are too loose, and considering you’re rolling backwards, that’s not a fun way to slam.
Finally, one last note courtesy of Eric Schäder from Sweden: he found it difficult to keep his shoulders square when he was trying this trick. His fix for this was to hold his back arm straight out in front of him as he did the trick, using his arm as an anchor point to stop him pulling his shoulders back in line with the board. If simply staring at the nose isn’t working for you, give this arm position a try!