The heelside railflip is the most common of all the tricks out of rail. Once upon a time this was considered a quite advanced trick, but thanks in part to a certain early 2000s video part, every beginner on a street board gives these ones a go.
The “standard” railflip is a 180º rotation with 1 3/4 flips. If you can only get a 3/4 flip (like the rookie in the second video linked above), don’t worry about it – that still counts. Just make sure it comes round the full 180º, and you can add more flip later once you’re comfortable with the basic mechanics of the trick.
Here’s my starting position. Front foot stands solidly on the front wheel, holding the board stable, and the big toe on the back foot is positioned over the curve of the kicktail. I actually twist the board slightly when I do this – this helps me maintain balance and control the amount of power in the flip.
Here’s that position from in front. Here you can see that I actually curl my toe over the rail slightly – you’ll see why in a second.
Spot the difference between this frame and the last. I’m moving my weight slightly to the back foot, rocking the nose upwards. My front foot is only there to stop the board from falling from the rail.
To begin the flip, I push the back foot down and back, angling the motion towards the front foot slightly to create a rotation. For most people, this is the most natural way to flip the board – straight ones are a little uncomfortable. The toe, curled over the side of the tail, actually pushes slightly on the underside to knock it round.
The jump has launched me straight upwards – the board should stay in roughly the same position, so I shouldn’t need to move far from my starting point.
I actually jump surprisingly high; the board isn’t going to come very high up at all, but I do need time to let the board complete its rotation. A lot of beginners try this trick with a little hop – suck the knees up and focus on getting a bit of height.
Most tricktips would label this frame as “here I’m spotting the trick ending, and getting ready to catch it.” Realistically, that’s not going to happen. This trick will flip fast – the landing is all about timing. I’ve done these enough to know that I’m about finished at this point.
Obviously I’m coming down a bit late. The board is ready to land and I’m still hovering in mid-air. Not ideal, but there’s a lot of room for error with railflips; if you’re really lucky, you might even catch it back to rail (although it’s obviously better if you can do that intentionally)!
I’ve straightened my legs and made contact with the grip. Although this is neither a catch or a land, that little bit of contact will stop it from bouncing away from me, and on low little tricks like this, sometimes that’s all you need.
Oddly, the position I’ve landed in makes it looks like I’m going straight back to rail. You’ll often see people land a railflip and go straight into something else; the lack of momentum makes them very easy to fit into other sequences.
These are a very setup-dependant trick. It’s important that the axle of your trucks is shorter than the width of your deck, and ideally, you want to be using freestyle wheels to protect the axle nuts (and the soles of your feet).
The shape of the tails makes a huge difference, too; rounder tails will flip easier, and squarer tails will “pop” more. The angle is also important, as steeper tails will feel clunky, and flatter tails will flip almost too easily.
However, whatever setup you’ve got, you should be able to make this one work with a bit of tinkering. Just remember: if the board isn’t flipping enough, you need to pull back more with the back foot, and if it isn’t spinning enough, you need the back foot to pull it in a more diagonal motion.
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