Usually overlooked in favour of its simpler and more diverse cousin, the railflip, the railwhip involves standing on one wheel while the board’s in rail and kicking the board into a 360º rotation beneath you. It’s like doing a 360 shuvit, only you never lose contact with the board.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the easiest variation of this trick. Once you understand this one, there’s nothing stopping you from doing them in the other direction, from toeside rail, or even doing multiple variations one after another.
I’m doing this trick while standing on my front foot. As with many freestyle tricks, there is no real concept of “switch” for railwhips – just stand on whichever foot you feel strongest on. If you prefer balancing on your back foot, just swap front and back foot over in the description below.
It might look like I’m just standing in a regular heelside rail position, but note my front foot – I’ve pulled it back towards the deck slightly so my toes aren’t overhanging as much.
As I balance on my front leg, I have to get my back foot in position to kick the board. This bit is very important – I have to point my toes down so that I’m kicking with the top and side of the foot.
From in front, you can see roughly where my foot is going to connect with the griptape. Aim for just behind the back truck, approximately half way across the width of the deck.
To start the railwhip motion, I lift the heel of the front foot and start kicking the back end of the board around. I’m not kicking straight forward – I’m going to scoop it in a circular motion.
Here you can see how much I rotate into the trick. This is important – if you kick the board directly in front of you, it’ll just shoot out from under you and fly off into the distance.
At this point, the board’s well into the spin; now the back foot is out of the way, notice here how high my front heel is. I needed that to make sure the board was free enough to move.
And now the board’s a bit further round, you can see how close the deck gets to the end of my shoe. This is why the front foot position is everything – if my foot had been a bit further forward, it would have snagged the deck and stopped the trick mid-way through.
Now the trick’s properly underway, I’ll cut to a wider camera angle so you can my posture. It’s very important you stay centred over that wheel; leaning in any direction will cause the board to stop spinning (and potentially make you fall over at this point).
With the board finally clearing the toes of my front foot, it’s time to get back into position. I’ve got to start pulling my back foot towards the finishing position of the trick before the board gets there.
Here’s one of the biggest problems with this trick: as the board finishes the rotation, I’m operating completely blind. I can’t really “spot” a landing – I have to know the timing and trust the board will appear.
I actually stop the board from rotating with my front foot, not the back one. Notice my front foot looks flat here? I’ve dropped the heel to “catch” the board back in rail before the back foot comes back to the wheel.
And with everything back in place, I can stand in rail for a moment, catch my breath, and figure out what I’m going to do next.
You’re definitely going to want freestyle wheels for this one; not only do they make the board more stable in rail, but dragging the axle across the ground is going to make the trick much harder and completely ruin your trucks. 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.
Finally, do yourself a favour and find a relatively smooth place to learn this trick. It’s not impossible to do a railwhip on rough asphalt, but it’s definitely not the easiest place to learn them!
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