I just went for a cruise on my latest complete. It is an 8" Real deck with Tensor trucks, mini logo bushings, and Spitfire 97a Formula Four Wheels. I didn't do anything more difficult than a caveman and a powerslide. No ollie tricks. No flip tricks. I just cruised.
It was fun, but I was surprisingly bad at it.
Yep. I can do 62 miles in one go on a longboard, and I can do my fair share of freestyle and flat ground tricks, but just cruising was difficult for me today. Okay, difficult isn't the right word. Awkward is the right word. And it was awkward because, as I quickly realized, I haven't skated somewhere with giant cracks in uneven pavement in far too long.
It has been too long since I skated the real world!!! I have been so caught up in skating a perfectly poured track and an even basketball court that I had lost the feeling of skating real streets!
Now, about this new setup. I'm riding an 8" pop because, quite frankly, it suits how I'm skating these days. I've given in to my desire to mix freestyle footwork with old school step off and ollie street tricks with longboard dance stuff. I've realized that the slightly longer wheelbase, while not as good for footwork like walk the dogs, is much better for g-turns. G-turns just feel better on a little wider board with a little looser trucks. And my flamingos?! So much easier on the "street" setup.
Now, all of this doesn't mean I won't jump on my frestyle set up. Heck, knowing me, I'll be on it again working on casper disasters next week (they're impossible on this other setup), but I'm really enjoying a little bigger, turnier board this week.
For the last three weeks I've been using softrucks instead of my skateboard for trick practice during the week. They have improved my fingerflips, underflips, and kickflips dramatically. However, I noticed during my actual freestye session over the last two weeks that my footwork is rusty. Spacewalks seemed a little more rust covered than anything else, but everything was a little off.
I blame this on two things:
1. My softruck deck is bigger than my freestyle board. I'm using what was supposed to be a 7.5 inch wide popsicle (that really measures closer to 7.8 in the center of the deck) with a 14 inch wheelbase. My current freestyle board is 7.3 inches wide with a 12.5 wheelbase. I will be, in a few week or months, be moving to a 7.4 with a 13 inch wheelbase, but it is still significantly smaller than the softruck deck.
2. I'm not rolling enough during the week. Working on tricks doesn't necessarily translate to keeping footwork fresh. I know this seems obvious, but it is worth mentioning that, taking a day or two away from footwork sometimes has a positive effect on my footwork. I have no explanation for that, and I'm not going to venture any guesses. However, a five day break from footwork does no good for footwork. Two days off is the largest amount of time that seems to have a benefit or, at any rate, no detrimental result.
I attempted to fix the not rolling thing by doing some distance skating over the past week. I did a 20k last Sunday and a 10k on Thursday of this week. I was in need of some distance skating as I haven't done nearly enough cardio since my pulled hamstring a month or so ago. However, it didn't seem to have any footwork benefit. So, really, doing footwork is the only thing that will keep footwork fresh. I know this is an obvious result, but I'm going to waste an entire blog post on it anyway.
I will say this: While the softrucks have no benefit on your rolling or footwork skills, they have dramatically improved my flip tricks. I mean dramatically. In just three weeks I've gone from having a 40 percent land rate on a variety of flip tricks to having an 80 percent land rate on flip tricks. The best part about that is that, once you hit that 80 percent mark, it makes learning new flip tricks that much easier.
In conclusion, I'm going to continue working with the softrucks daily during the week. They help me be able to work on things despite having a new schedule at work that sends me home after the sun has gone down. I will, however, make sure to work footwork on a daily basis as well. After all, a freestyle skater with no footwork is just a flat ground skater.
I've spent a little time pondering the week spots in my freestyle game over the past couple of weeks. One is the kickflip. For some reason I did these much better before I started frestyling. I originally learned them several decades ago on a whim and could always count on them should I decide to try one. After a turf toe injury about five years ago I lost them, and for whatever reason, they've been difficult to get back.
I have started really working on them again and look forward to having them consistently again. For me it is all about foot position and where, on my foot, I hold my weight. I haved to put the weight of my left (front) foot on the ball of my foot to make it happen and I have to have my legs spread wider than most.
One of the other tricks I'm spending a lot of time with is a 360 tailstop fingerflip. I have a tendancy to throw the board behind me on these and it is a habit that is hard to break. Unfortunately, working on these has also made my varial fingerflips more difficult. Transitioning between the 180 and the 360 is subtle and I'm not always the best at subtle.
Add in lots of footwork variations and tons of step off longboard tricks and you know all about my last couple weeks of skating. I'll be exploring longboard dance tricks on a freestyle sized set up more in the next couple of weeks.
I'm happy to say I'm back on a skateboard this week, and I have been having a blast! The break did me good.
I took the first couple sessions easy and then started stepping things back up by really working on some new footwork combinations. In truth, although I watch other freestylers skate, I have never spent enough time studying combinations of tricks. So, I've been looking at what footwork combinations other freestylers put together and trying to emulate them. So far, each thing I've tried to do turns out different when I try to do them, but I don't want to copy exactly what they do anyway. I want to see how their tricks flow together, and use that flow to do my own stuff.
For instance, these two clips are from watching other freestylers and doing things my own way:
As you can see, I'm back to riding a bigger board again for now (8.75). I'm not sure how long I'll ride it, but it is a really good size for doing footwork. I'm considering putting some freestyle wheels on it, but for now I'm good with what I have going. No rail tricks, but really (like I've said before), I don't really like doing rail tricks. I love footwork and fingerflips.
I also like that the same size board is fun for street skating. I've been doing a few slappys and other curb tricks over the week and it has been a welcomed change of pace.
This week's post is overly long and even confusing to me. I intended to write about whether or not no comply tricks should be included in freestyle and, if so, how often they should be done. Instead, I ramble on about things and start needing a definition of freestyle. The post only got worse in the editing phase. Have fun.
So, this week I have been thinking about the blurred line between flatground street and freestyle, and trying to find my definition of freestyle skateboarding. This is so I can figure out what exactly I want to do as a freestyle skater because I've been drawn into the world of no comply tricks lately, and if you ask a lot of freestyle skaters, they will say no complies don't belong in freestyle. They say that freestyle is about not touching the ground with your feet. I'm even told, until Mullen broke the mold, it was even frowned upon to push during a freestyle run. Speed was supposed to be gained by footwork.
Well, according to Wikipedia it is freestyle is: "technical flat ground skateboarding."
But I don't even agree with that. Flat ground skating sounds like street skating terminology. I am going to call freestyle 'a series of skateboard footwork and tricks designed to be aesthetic and dance-like.' So, as long as it is aesthetic, on a flat space, and dance-like is it freestyle?
Before I get too far in, let me get this out of the way:
I have entered one, and only one, freestyle contest and even that was virtual. I am not any kind of freestyle expert. I started freestyle skating less than two years ago and, since I'm being honest about stuff, I really don't dig a lot of freestyle. It is sort of like my relationship with poetry. As a young teen I wanted to be a poet, but then I started really reading lots of different poetry and realized that a lot of it wasn't to my tastes.
So, just to get this straight. I'm not into a lot of freestyle stuff.
Pogos? No thanks.
Long, drawn out rail to rail to rail to rail stationary stuff? Pass.
50/50 to casper to rail etcetera etcetera? Naw. I'll just be over here working on g-turns and stuff.
For me, skating is on the wheels of the board and, if you aren't on the wheels, you should be just about to be back on the wheels. In fact, I think doing too much stationary stuff is what turns people, including street skaters, off to freestyle. I know it is one of the things that turned me off to freestyle 30+ years ago. I could watch Natas ride walls or Primo stand on the side of the board. It wasn't even a contest. Natas ruled the day.
And since Natas ruled the day, street skating (particularly late 80s street skating) is a huge influence on me.
So, then, how much off the wheels is too much off the wheels? If a rail walk to rail to casper to casper is too much time off the wheels, what about no comply fingerflips or, one that I'm doing a lot these days, 360 no complies? Isn't the whole point of freestyle to not take your foot off the board. Or is it something else and the foot thing is an outdated unwritten rule that needs to pass away? Isn't there a difference between stepping off on purpose and stepping off because you can't land the trick? Some say no comply tricks are an easy way out of doing a two foot on trick that might be more difficult. And I see the point. No comply fingerflips are very easy in comparison to rolling fingerflips. Same for the varial version of the trick.
But does freestyle have to be the more difficult trick? A no comply fingerflip doesn't really look like a rolling fingerflip. They are two different tricks. One is started crouched low on the board while you grab the nose. In the other you are standing upright and pop the board into your hand. It is really about which trick fits into the aesthetics of the run at that point, right?
It is all too much for me this week, and I really thought this would be an easy thing to write. At this point my thoughts (and this post) are so jumbled up. that I'll stop where I am. See you all next week.
In truth, I am such a fickle skater. As soon as I convinced myself that a freestyle board was the right board for me, I changed my mind and got the longboard back out. Here is the confession. After the WRU Online Showdown, I switched to a traditional freestyle board because I was feeling very determined and competitive. I was going to switch over to a true freestyle setup and I was going to do all those things that would win the contest next year. Now, a month or so later, I'm feeling much less competitive and I'm ready to explore my skating as I want it to be not how it might win a contest.
As far as freestyle board vs longboard? Both boards are good for certain, specific tricks. Rolling fingerflips and endovers are, of course, out on the longboard, but things like tail spin to 360s are so much better on the longboard. And I like footwork on both of them. The freestyle board is, of course, much faster, but the longboard feels (and looks) so smooth in comparison. Not to mention the ease of toe spins on a bigger board! Toe spins are a scary trick, but on the longboard they're much less scary.
So, for a few days I was back on the longboard again, and I was thinking more about gliding footwork than flipping the board onto rail and walking on the side of the board. I am glad I can do that easily now (and with a different wheel set up it should be possible on the longboard), but it really isn't how I like to skate. Also, I have to admit, I have fallen in love with no comply flip tricks (no comply varial flip/no comply fingerflip) and they are fun on the longboard, but not so great on the freestyle board. Plus, thinking about competition again, I think they'd be accepted in a contest on the longboard but frowned upon on the freestyle sized board.
By the end of this week I had swapped back to an 8.75" popsicle stick. With the bigger than a freestyle board and smaller than a longboard board I can do all of my favorite longboard tricks and freestyle tricks so I think I"m going to play around on this size for a bit.
It seems I'm in a phase of revisiting old posts. This week I'm thinking about an old post I wrote called, "The Freestyle Attitude." It is one of my most popular posts, and the message is one that I've had to remind myself about this week.
Although you should go read the post, to sum it up in a sentence: If you don't have a trick locked in, you don't have the trick.
For instance, I've been able to do caspers for over a year. It was one of the first things I "learned." The thing is, I never actually got them. I could land them enough to get one on camera for an Instagram clip, but I didn't have them consistent enough to put them in my World Round Up run. By my own admission, they weren't truly mine. See, I didn't really understand the movements of my body necessary to get them consistent. In fact, they'd been frustrating me for over a year, and I'd often wondered what was wrong with me that I had to relearn them over and over.
This week they clicked. I watched Tony Gale's trick tip again, and it struck me. It wasn't what Tony said, it was watching him do them.
I have been skating for over thirty years. I was a kid in the early 80s that cruised around on a department store board. Later I learned to ollie and street skating became everything to me. After that it was pretending to be a vert skater on a mini ramp. Then it was longboards, park skating, ditch skating, and slalom before settling into distance and freestyle. In all of that skating, I've always kept my feet either firmly planted on the bolts, or I've landed firmly on the bolts. Landing with one leg straight (and in the air) while the other leg bent (and I stood on it) was not a thing. It is not in my muscle memory.
It struck me that because it was unnatural for me to land that way, I needed to get the muscle memory established. I needed to remind myself before every casper, "Stretch the left leg. Stand on the right with knee bent," because I was going back to land bolts mentality each time I tried to add a casper into a line of tricks. You'll even see in the casper clip, I tap my leg as I'm reminding myself of how to land. After a week of reminding myself, I am able to add caspers into lines because I stopped, slowed down, thought about things, and really got the movement down.
Because of that success, I decided to spend a couple weeks slowed down, making sure that all of my tricks really are mine.
I hope you all had a great week, and remember with caspers: Foot down doesn't count!!!
Skating since the World Round-Up Online Showdown has taken me back to my early days of freestyle oh so long ago (about a year ago). I had learned to stop treated my freestyle sessions like street skating free-for-alls and took to writing lists of tricks. At that time I could only do a handful of things so I'd go through my list at the beginning of every session making sure I landed three of each trick. It would take about a half hour and get me warmed up for the next part of my session, working on new tricks. I'd have one in mind and drill it for a little bit with hopefully a make or two. Finally, I'd finish my session by trying to link footwork together into combos.
At some point I stopped looking at my list and started working on things in a much less organized manner. Then the WRU came along and I spent the majority of my session getting smooth and clean with the tricks it was going to involve. Finally, I filmed my run and the rest is history.
Nowadays I start each session with a simple footwork line or two. I move through the combinations of tricks as effeciently as possible as my muscles get warmed up and ready to try new things. After that, I've gone back to my handy trick list. I'm happy to say that I now have too many tricks to knock them all out in one go (my session would be over before I would work on anything new), but I have combined the tricks I need/choose to work on with tricks that I want to learn into 10 or so items to be worked on each session. I land each trick a minimum of three times before moving to the next trick.
Over the last week I've been working on caspers, walk the cows, hang ten shuvits, rail walking, varial fingerflips, and backwards walk the dogs (among others).
Now, once I get these consistent (landing three in a row each session) they get taken from the list and incorporated into the third part of each session: new combos! For instance, I've been doing endovers for speed into hang ten shuvits into a walk the cow. Two new tricks combined with an old one done one after another so my transitions between each trick will become more fluid. One of the cool things about doing this is that I can see which tricks don't flow together well for me so I can add footwork in between to make them flow better.
Putting together a contest run has changed my skating quite a bit. And watching skaters that I appreciate has changed my skating quite a bit. For instance, watching Tony Gale transition from trick to trick inspires me a lot. Now, I can also say that there are some very popular, high ranking freestylers that simply don't inspire me. Very often they are those that have a lot of big tricks but very little style or grace in between those big tricks.
Any old way, keep on skating. I'm headed to the freestyle park.
I have been very torn about longboard vs freestyle board, but I can definitely see the positive change in switching from hybrid longboard to freestyle set up.
I have a lot more options riding the freestyle board because I can still do almost all my longboard tricks but I can also do the freestyle tricks I'd had to give up when I switched.
For instance, I've can still do bigger spins (endover to body varial to endover and on and on) but I can also do multiple endovers again on the freestyle set up. Same thing goes for no comply fingerflips. They're still possible on the freestyle board, but I have rolling fingerflips back again too. More options!
While I am happy that I followed through and used a longboard for my WRU Online Showdown run, I do have some slight regrets that I didn't use a freestyle set up. I could have had a lot more variety and difficulty in my run and I may have placed higher.
Well, I'm not going to shed any tears about it, but I do hope for the opportunity to place higher next year!
Well, the judging is complete and the live stream is over. My run got me fifth place in the Master's Amateur division at the World Round-Up Online Showdown. I'm very happy with that position, and it has me thinking (like I so often do) about what is next.
next for this aging skater is to drop down from longboard to (still large) popsicle stick and, probably, to go down to a freestyle board in a few months. I had two 8.75 pops collecting dust so I've set one up with skids, trucks, and wheels and I've started riding it again. My next blog post will be about riding this much smaller board and my reactions to it.
I must admit, this is kind of a crossroads for me, and I'm torn on longboard or traditional freestyle set up. See, I can't go back and forth very well. One session on the longboard and I have to spend half the next session adjusting to the smaller board. And I miss rolling fingerflips, endovers, and other tricks that just aren't possible on a wheelbase over 21 inches.
By the same token, I do enjoy longboard dance, and I don't want to give it up. I want to "keep on dancing." So, I'm promising myself that, at the end of one session per week, I'm going to grab my dancing board and do some cross-steps and Peter Pans etc....AND I'm going to grab my distance board once a week and push for some miles. Since I won't be doing pivot based tricks on my flat dancer it shouldn't effect my freestyle. Add in that a 7 mile running race I signed up for is set to happen in October (I need to train for that) and I'm going to be busy for the next few months!