The Freestyle Attitude
When I first started attempting to freestyle, I was trying to learn as many tricks as I could as quickly as I could. I was watching several trick tip videos everyday, and I was trying multiple new things each session. It was frustrating, but I started landing some things and felt like I was progressing very quickly. If I landed a heelside railflip or a rolling fingerflip at some point during the session, I felt like I could do the trick. That is a very street skater/filming for a clip type of attitude. In those instance, getting the trick on film becomes the thing not mastery over the trick on every attempt.
The freestyle attitude on what constitutes being able to do something is very different.
The freestyle mentality on tricks seems to be: If you don't have it locked down, you don't really have it.
In the freestyle world, landing one or two out of ten doesn't constitute having them. It means you have an idea on how to do the trick, and you get lucky ten to twenty percent of the time. If you land less than you make, they aren't yours yet. When a trick can be done consistently and could be considered for a video run or a contest run (which I will probably never enter), well, then I can consider them one of my tricks.
This has greatly slowed down my learning of new tricks, but I don't feel like it has slowed down my progression. It means that my progress is consistency, and consistency is more valued than sheer numbers when looking at freestyle skating. I've gone from landing a couple rolling fingerflips per session to landing nearly every rolling fingerflip per session. I no longer touch my tail to the ground when doing spacewalks. My walk the dogs are faster and smoother. I can put a line together instead of just practicing tricks, and it feels like I'm skating more because I'm spending more time on the board compared to falling off.
And now, as I progressively get better at tricks that I could already land, I'm able to add on from those and get new tricks down.
I have been skating a lot of curbs lately. I found a skate park not far from home that has a blue parking block as part of the obstacles and a new (not skate) park opened close to my house that has two parking blocks in front of fresh, smooth concrete that I've been skating a lot lately.
This has, of course, interrupted my freestyle progress. I've been so busy slapping curbs that I haven't had much time for walking the dog except as my warm up. I run through my little bag of freestyle tricks quickly most days to get my legs under me for a curb session.
However, there is nothing like watching some of the top freestylers getting together to skate that can inspire me more to spin some one footed 360's. The World Round Up, a freestyle contest held in conjunction with a rodeo (of all things) happened this week, and there was some fantastic skating.
Skaters came from Japan, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. to take part in the event. If you haven't seen any of the footage, I suggest you search it out on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram (I don't embed or link to other people's footage because it can be deleted leaving me with dead links on old posts). It is inspiring to see what skaters can do using only a flat surface. It is a very pure form of skateboarding that takes away all obstacles, and I am thrilled to finally be trying some of these things.
My notes from the round up:
It was odd not to see Tony Gale in the mix, and it was disappointing to see that my personal favorite freestyler to watch, Denham Hill, didn't do as well in the judges eyes as I believe he should. The young guns from Japan are really impressive, and I wouldn't think of criticizing their placement at the top of the heap. It is good to see younger skaters making waves.
The Freestyle Winter
In my book, Nobody: Essays From a Lifer Skater, I mention that freestyle wasn't something that captured my interest as a newbie skater. My initial fascination had been captured by images of vert and pool skating in 80s Thrasher Magazines, and even though we had no pools or vert ramps to ride, I was eager to harness that aggression on curbs and banks. The precision and sheer amount practice time necessary for freestyle wasn't something, as a teenager, that I was willing to invest into for my skateboarding.
It seems that my attention span and interest in details has improved over the last 30 years (as one would hope). I first attempted freestyle in late October of 2018, and I have been in love with freestyle skating since then. It requires such precise movement and such dedication just to learn one basic maneuver. For instance, I thought learning to spacewalk would be a cinch. I mean, looking at freestyle skaters like Kevin Harris or Tony Gale who spacewalk with such ease. It must be simple, look how easy it looks!
There was nothing easy in my experience of learning to spacewalk. It took session after session of trial and error before it clicked and I was able to propel myself by turning on the back two wheels of my board. Doing a decent walk the dog was much the same. Backwards walk the dogs? Forget about it. And doing a flamingo (one-footed turn to fakie followed by a one-footed carve)? So much more difficult than it looks when Terry Synott is doing them on instagram.
Freestyle brought me a new way of progressing on my skateboard just as I was wondering what I could do to keep myself moving forward for the winter. And it was a very wet winter. Thank goodness for a clean garage to work on tricks while it rained outside. I added nosehook impossibles, rail flips, rolling fingerflips. . .tons of new tricks to my bag.
Freestyle has also ignited the fire to street skate. Much of my flat ground street tricks aren't considered "good" freestyle. I like to take my foot off my board with boneless tricks, ollie fastplants, and no complies. I've been able to rediscover all these old flat ground tricks, added them to my freestyle, and even incorporated curbs and parking blocks to the mix. My skateboarding feels fresh again. Personal Progression as I move past my mid-forties.