Oh, was I wrong.
The hang ten spacewalk is incredibly tough to do, and even harder to do well. You need to have complete control of a regular hang ten nose wheelie before you begin, but it has very little to do with a spacewalk, so don’t think what you’ve learned there will help you in any way for this one. Good luck!
Before we begin, I’ll also say this: while I generally think the text-and-sequence version of these tips is the best format, this is definitely one trick which is better understood through video. This page might help you understand core concepts, but don’t skip on the video for this one, as you need to see the way the motion works, and I can’t show that with screen captures.
While you can get away with some variation on foot placement for a straight hang ten nose wheelie, once you turn it into a spacewalk, you need to make sure everything is in the right place. You want 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 will mean you’ll naturally get a stronger swing in one direction than the other. Street skaters will sometimes stand with their feet more sideways, but you won’t be able to do a hang ten spacewalk at all this way. Feet together, face forwards, and aim to have the toes just over the curve of the nose. Consider riding a single kick back-to-front on this one, too; while it’s not impossible to do on a flat nose, it does give you less room for error.
Posture is everything on the hang ten spacewalk. You need to make sure you can do a “regular” hang ten with everything in line; your shoulders, hips and ankles should all form a straight vertical line just behind the truck. In the left hand side of this shot, I’m doing a straight hang ten nose wheelie, and you can see that even though I’m looking down to make sure I’m not about to hit anything, I’m still in a strong vertical position.
On the right hand side, you can see how this translates to the spacewalk; because my posture is correct, the board isn’t going off-axis as I pump through each turn. Notice also that my knees are bent; you should be squatting throughout the spacewalk, or you won’t be able to “pump” them correctly.
Here’s where things start to get weird. A regular spacewalk is all about twisting at the hips, pushing one foot in one direction and pulling the other foot in the other direction so that you can swing the board around. That doesn’t work on a hang ten spacewalk – you’ll just fling the board away. Instead, each part of the spacewalk is a mini-carve, illustrated here by my horizontal alignment/posture. Much like on a G-turn, I’m hanging way off the side of the deck with all my weight on one side of the truck, causing the board to carve instead of merely pivoting around like an endover. If you’ve already mastered the G-turn, you’ll understand how important this difference is.
At the extreme parts of the spacewalk, you can see what really makes the whole thing work, and it’s not the hips – it’s the back muscles. Dan Gesmer told me the key to these a couple of years ago, and that’s focusing on engaging the muscles just below your shoulder blades as you shift your weight from left to right. Once you get it right, it feels much like the way a professional slalomer weaves through the cones at speed; your shoulders shift up and down as your hips move side-to-side instead of rotating like a regular spacewalk would. It takes some time to get a feel for, but you’ll know when you get it right – you’ll wake up the next day in need of a good chiropractor!
One of the biggest enemies you’ll have learning this is uneven, rough or unpredictable surfaces. Anything which can jolt the board is likely to throw you off because all your weight is at the front of the board; try to stick to smooth concrete with a decent amount of grip when you’re starting out.
Speed is crucial on this one; if you go too slowly, you’ll struggle to get started with the movement and be fighting to keep your balance. If you go too fast, your board will want to whip out the side on every swing. Try to keep a consistent slow pace; don’t worry about losing speed, as the spacewalk will generate some for you.
It’s worth noting that this is a good reason to be using decent bearings, though – generic, crap and/or old and rusty bearings will be resisting your movements and make this harder. Throw away your Bones Reds (they’re nothing like as good as people claim) and swap to some Seismic Tektons or Synopsis Blue Rays and you’ll notice an immediate difference.
Much like a regular spacewalk, rhythm is everything. If you’re a musician, think of it as a syncopated beat rather than a straight 4/4; it should have a slight swing to it. If you’re not a musician, think more in terms of lo-fi jazzhop than hardcore punk.
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. Once you start spacewalking, however, the room for error reduces considerably. As soon as you lean forwards, the tail board will want to shoot out behind you; as soon as you lean backwards, it’ll shoot out in front of you. Stay centred and upright if you can.
Like with most wheelies, 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 tail
- 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 spacewalk.
Finally, I’ll say this: wheelies in general aren’t something you’ll learn in one session, and in my experience, that’s never been more true than with the hang ten spacewalk. It’ll take a while before you even make it to three consecutive swings (which is really the point it’s a spacewalk and not just a bizarre wiggle), and it’ll take even longer before you can control it for a decent length of time. Don’t let that put you off – make a point of practicing it every day and you’ll have it eventually. It might take a few months (or even a few years), but it’s worth it.