The rail toespin is one of the more overlooked rail tricks. Everyone is so keen to skip to the flippy stuff that they often forget that there’s things you can do in rail itself, and like the railwhip, these can often be a nice surprise to freshen up an otherwise relatively tiresome/”samey” group of tricks as a result.
Another thing they share with the railwhip is the fact they can be done with multiple different approaches and directions. The version I’m teaching here spins frontside around the front foot in heelside rail; if you want to change any of those variables, feel free!
For this sequence, I’m going to show the trick from behind so you can see more clearly what happens with the front foot. Like the regular toespin, I start by bending the knees and pre-winding slightly in the opposite direction to the spin.
I straighten my legs to go light on my feet, and start turning my upper body into the spin, generating rotation by pushing off my back foot. My front foot is still fairly well planted here.
Here’s where everything really starts to happen. I’ve pushed off the back foot, pushing against the wheel, and lifted the heel of my front foot so I can start spinning freely on the front wheel.
You can see here that the board has moved slightly as I pushed off against it, but I’ve also snapped my lower body around quickly. My torso hasn’t moved too much since the last frame, but my hips and legs are getting ahead of it fast.
This is a good frame because it shows the real key to making this work – I’m up on my toes (which are now pointing at the deck, but far enough back to not touch it), and my centre of gravity – my navel – is well-centred over that foot.
The board is still moving slightly, but I’m coming round to meet it. My back leg, previously stuck behind my front one due to the push-off, has to start coming back round to a regular riding position.
This point feels exactly like a regular topspin in that you’re about to finish the spin, but 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.
At this point my front foot is solidly in place – I’ve dropped my heel, preventing my board from drifting further. All I have to do is replace my back foot; I’m almost done.
I’m still not quite finished, though. Due to the slight drift of the board, I’m not exactly where I started, and I want to correct that…
…so I’m letting the momentum of my upper body continue, and not planting all my weight back onto the back foot. The allows me to glide the board through the last 30º of rotation back to the starting point…
…And now we’re done. Compare the position of the board with the first frame; we’ve shifted backwards slightly as a result of the momentum, but the angle is exactly the same as where we began. This is what you want to aim for wherever possible!
The first additional note is the most crucial: DO NOT ACCEPT HALF-AND-HALF SPINS. If you spin 180 and the board does half a railwhip, this is just going to look like a dirty mess. It might happen from time to time by accident, but never accept it as a trick in itself. It’s like watching someone do a spacewalk with the tail skidding on the floor, or a hang ten where they’re stood sideways – it’s just poor form and misses the key point of the trick.
You’re definitely going to want freestyle wheels for this one; not only do they make the board more stable in rail, but spinning on the axle nut is going to tear a hole in your shoe (if you can even make this work at all). If you don’t know where to get some freestyle wheels, have a look at our retailers page.
You’re also going to struggle to do this trick if your trucks are too wide for the board – or if they’re set much too loose. If the truck can wobble while you’re standing in rail, you’ll have difficulty keeping your balance while the board spins beneath you. Try to get trucks with an axle approximately 0.35″ narrower than the width of the deck and get some firmer bushings before you break your ankle.
The other setup condition to consider is the overall height of the setup compared to the width. Taller trucks and thicker risers give you more space to spin before your toes hit the deck and will also increase the stability of the board in rail, but that’s diminished somewhat by using a wider setup. Think of the whole skateboard in rail as if it was a solid box; if the side of the box that you’re stood on is much thinner than the height of it, it’ll be more likely to topple over. As such, the wider the deck gets, the more risers you’ll need to make the board as stable in rail; a 7.3″ with no risers is equal to a 7.6″ with 1/8″ risers, an 8″ with 1/3″ risers, or an 8.25″ with almost 1/2″ risers. Isn’t geometry fun?
Finally, do yourself a favour and find a relatively grippy, smooth and flat place to learn this trick. It’s not impossible to do a rail topspin on rough uneven asphalt, but it’s definitely not the easiest place to learn them – and the same can be said of slick polished concrete, as it’s very hard to avoid the dreaded half-and-half if friction is too low.