The toeflip is a simple little trick which, like its more versatile cousin the pressure flip, gets overlooked a fair bit. That’s a shame – while these will never be popped up to knee height, they still make great little tricks to spin your board around in the middle of a line, or just something fun to do while you roll down the street.
They don’t have a lot in common with most tricks, but a basic understanding of shuvits (and maybe some experience with a basic rail flip) will go a long way on this one.
Your front foot wants to start totally perpendicular to the board, covering the back bolts of the front truck. Aim to have the ball of your foot in line with the toeside wheel.
Your back foot, however, needs to be in a very specific pocket, just behind the heelside wheel of the back truck and before the tail starts to curve upwards. Have just the toes of the foot on the deck.
As I roll into the trick – and although you can do these stationary, they are considerably nicer when you’re rolling – I make sure my shoulders are in line with the deck…
…and then I start to compress downward, putting pressure into the board, pre-loading it for the flip. Both feet are pressing downwards; the back foot will create the flip, but the front foot needs to keep the board stable until I’m ready to jump.
Hopefully you can tell from this (slightly unflattering) angle how much the board is twisting under the pressure. My back foot is really pushing into that pocket, and the ball of my front foot is counteracting that, making sure I can continue to roll in a straight line.
I jump upwards, lifting the front foot straight up towards me, relieving the tension in the board and letting the back foot push down through the deck, starting the flip.
This next frame is a split second after the previous one, and is here so you see what my back foot is doing. The toes create the whole trick while the front foot gets out the way. I push down, back, and slightly inwards, in a diagonal motion.
And here you can see one unfortunate element of the toeflip: it’s basically impossible to do these without them rolling across the floor. Unlike the regular pressure flip – which, contrary to popular opinion, CAN be popped quite high – the toeflip will always be a “worm burner”. Don’t worry about it too much.
As the board gets towards the end of the 180º rotation, I have to start repositioning my legs. It’s also important to notice that I’m starting to twist my front shoulder back a little. It’s subtle, but opening your chest slightly makes it a bit easier to catch a toeflip if it under-rotates.
Before the board tumbles off away from me (one of the downsides to a low flip is it might bounce around unpredictably), I get my back foot on the board just slightly behind the back truck. Catching back foot first makes it easier to wind the board round and recover any missing rotation.
Finally, I shift my weight back to the front leg, carving away slightly, and off into the next trick.
At its heart, the toeflip is a pressure flip variant, and pressure flips of all kinds are considerably easier the tighter your trucks are. You don’t need them rock-solid – just don’t expect to find these easy on a floppy set of Indy 149s. The looser the truck is, the more work you’ve got to do to snap it into a flip, and that means more pressure, more pre-loading before the jump, and a much further throw of the back foot as you take off.
That said, you can do these on pretty much any setup. They’re a very universal trick. They get harder as boards get longer, but any freestyle or street setup should handle a toeflip well.
Back foot position is crucial for this one. Once you’ve got the sweet spot, you’ll know it. If you’re too far into the deck (i.e. towards the toeside edge), the board won’t flip at all. If you’re too far back (i.e. away from the truck, towards the end of the tail), the board won’t flip right. If you’re too close to the truck (or even directly over it), the board won’t spin. Take the foot placement photo in frame 3 and memorise it, then play around with small adjustments until you find where it works on your particular setup.
If your foot position is correct and the board still isn’t rotating enough, there’s a good chance that you’re not pulling your back leg sideways/diagonally far enough. It doesn’t need to go far – not even up to the same line as the heel of the front foot – but the further you take it, the more rotation you get.
One last stumbling block is probably going to be your front foot. Long time street skaters always struggle with pressure flip variants because they’re trying to flick the board or move the front foot out. Don’t – it should just come straight up. If all else fails, think of the toeflip as a rolling rail flip and you should get the right idea.
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