There are few things as classic or iconic in my eyes as the original nose wheelie, now usually referred to as the “hang ten” or two-footed nose wheelie. One of my favourite skate photos of all time featured one of these, and seeing what Dan Gesmer could do with these blew my mind as a teenager.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years rolling around in a hang ten position, and while it seems unusual while you’re trying to learn it, it’s actually one of the most natural and casual positions to balance in once you’ve mastered it. Don’t let the fear of falling forward put you off. This is a great trick to learn, and feels fantastic to do.
Most people’s foot placement for a hang ten nose wheelie varies depending on when they learned this and what they’d learned before. I strongly suggest aiming to have both feet perfectly next to each other, and facing straight forwards; the 1970s style was to have one foot slightly in front of the other, but this restricts what you can do with a hang ten later on (shuvits out, spacewalks, G-turns, etc.). Street skaters sometimes try these with their feet more sideways, but this plays havoc with the balance. Feet together, face forwards. Trust me on this one.
The next issue is the position on the nose. On the left hand frame, I’ve got my toes only just past the truck as if I was skating a 70s snub nose. The problem with this is that I need a lot of weight on my toes, and it’s not very comfortable. On the right hand frame, I’ve got my feet a lot further forward than where I’d normally place them. This means I have to overcompensate a lot with my upper body. Play around and find the sweet spot.
Once I’m in position, I’ve got to find my balance point. I do this by dipping my toes slightly and locking my ankles, bending at the knees slightly, and sticking my arms up and/or out. My shoulders should stay in line with my ankles and heels, and my waist moves forwards and backwards to balance. Note that if I need to look down, I just angle my neck – resist the urge to bend forward at the waist.
From in front, you can see how aligned everything is. My whole body faces forwards, and it feels like I’m just standing still. It’s a much more relaxed position for me than a regular nosewheelie as I don’t have to arch my back as much. Once your ankles are locked and your body is centred, momentum will do most of the work.
As with regular wheelies, it really helps to have goals when you’re learning this trick. Practicing in a car park/parking lot will give you a way to measure the distance you’ve travelled.
Also, speed will help balance everything out. You don’t want to do these too slowly, as every little bump will jolt you off your board. It might seem scary going quickly, but it’ll actually make it much easier.
A good general rule to live by with all hang ten tricks is to keep your weight slightly further forward instead of slightly further back. Falling off forwards is a simple run-out. On the other hand, falling off backwards is a good way to crack your skull open. One of these situations is much better than the other.
Again, like with the regular wheelie, there are a few things you can do to your setup to make these easier:
- Mellower kicktails will make the board more sensitive, reducing the amount of pressure you have to introduce to lift the nose
- Larger, softer wheels and good bearings will increase the distance you can roll without slowing down
- A taller board will give you more space between the nose and the floor while you’re balancing the wheelie, reducing the chance of “snowplowing” the nose and stopping dead
- A nose skid will reduce friction if the nose does slide on the floor slightly, reducing the risk of pitching forwards onto your face
- If you’re skating a single kick, consider turning the board around and doing these on the kicktail to give yourself a bit more clearance between the deck and the ground during the hang ten.