Everyone who begins skateboarding eventually wants to learn how to heelflip. Most new skaters learn to kickflip pretty quickly, but heelflips can seem like a holy grail. This tongue-in-cheek video shows heelflips through the history of skateboarding and plays with the mystery of the trick. It even has a trick tip for back-foot heelflip, but you should learn regular heelflips first.
Truthfully, they’re not that difficult. The key to mastering the heelflip is to use the proper part of your foot to flip the board. The bottom of the heel does not flip the board; the side of it does. Read on to learn to heelflip with a catch in just a few simple steps.
Before learning to heelflip, be sure you have the fundamentals down. You should already have ollies wired, and you should be able to do them about knee high. It will help if you have kickflips on lock as well, as the heelflip motion closely mimics the kickflip move, just on the opposite side of the board. If you already know how to do kickflip, though, it will make heelflips much easier to understand.
The setup for a heelflip is the exact opposite of that of the kickflip. Set up with your front foot centered on the deck, an inch or two behind the front truck bolts. The back foot goes in the center of the tail When learning the trick, it helps if you angle your front foot just a bit, with the toes nearly hanging off the board.
As you progress with heelflips, you can reduce the setup somewhat. It is possible to use the balls of the front foot to flip the board, but the easiest way to learn is to use the side and rear of your foot to do it. Watch these slow-motion heelflips in this Video. At 0:43, you can see the setup from a great angle.
Ollieing into a heelflip, or any flip trick for that matter, is key for catching the board in the air with your feet. Watch the slow-motion video again. Notice how the board is always rising to his feet before the catch? To do that, learn how to do an ollie first and then flip the board by extending the natural motion of your front foot. Many beginners will pop the tail and flail their front foot uselessly. When you ollie first, though, the catch happens without conscious effort.
Once you’re airborne and sliding your front foot up to level out, kick your foot toward the edge of the board. Throw your foot up and out. Your foot will hit against the side of the nose, and the board will begin to flip. Check out this skate support segment from Braille in this Video.
You can see that the ollie doesn’t have to be huge to flip the board up to your feet. You just need to flick it up and out, and do it aggressively.
As the board flips, tuck your knees to give it more space to rise. It will continue flipping on its way up, so you may need to adjust the height of your feet. It will take a little trial and error to find the sweet spot, but your board should be flipping much easier now. Once you get the motion down, the flip and catch become intuitive.
Sometimes, the board will flip nose up instead of boning — or flipping nose down. This Video explains the issue better than words can.
The board’s tendency to flip nose up results from trying to flip the board with the bottom of the heel. Remember: use the side of your foot and flick off the edge of the nose to get the board to bone out for the catch.
You cannot leave your knees tucked during the landing because you will have no way to absorb the impact. Rather than staying compressed, allow your knees to straighten a bit before you land. Once the wheels contact the ground, bend your knees again to lessen the blow of hitting the ground. Throughout the trick, the knees should bend three different times: on loading for the ollie, at the top of the ollie, and after landing.
The great mystery of the heelflip is not why it is so difficult, but rather why so many skateboarders think it is hard. Mastering the heelflip is simply a matter of understanding how to do it properly, but the slow-motion video gives away the secret. As long as you ollie first and flick with the side of your heel, the magical heelflip will quickly be a part of your arsenal.
If this article helped you master your heels, please share it so the next guy can solve the puzzle. Too many kids spend too much time chasing the trick but attacking it the wrong way. Help out a brother. If you’re still having trouble, or you have discovered another way to do it, please leave a comment below.