? Break Skating Fear, Never Chicken Foot Again

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams.” — Willy Wonka

There is bailing, and then there is bailing before even trying the trick. Everyone who has ever tried to flip a board has done it. If you say you haven’t, you’re either a liar or a poser — or both. The first time a board smacks into your shin, you understand the pain you are in for with skateboarding. You try to push it away, but you keep coming back to it, because you know it is just around the corner, hiding… waiting.

The fear of the slam is perfectly understandable. It is a natural reaction to the possible outcome of trying a trick. But, when you try a kickflip and your front foot lands on the board while your back foot lands on the ground, that back foot is the chicken foot. You had no intention of landing with that foot on the board, and you will never learn kickflips like that. You must give in to the pain. Only then, when you’ve embraced it, can you truly experience the joy in cheating it.

Conquer the Twin Demons

If you skate, you will fall, and it will hurt. The best thing to do is accept that the moment you set foot on a board and move on with skating you have better learn how to fall on a skateboard The twin demons — pain and fear — lurk while you skate. They run together, and you must defeat them. You must conquer your fear of pain. Skateboarding at the edge of the envelope means making friends with those two devils. Well, if not friends, at least allies. Check out Ryan Decenzo’s “My War” feature in this Video for a demonstration of going for it.

When you commit to landing a trick — when you give it 100 percent — you invite fear and pain to the party. Sooner or later, you are going to have to pay your dues. Once you determine you will either land or slam this trick, this try, you will land it more often than you wreck. There will be attempts where you fall, but you have a better chance of landing lightly on your board than off it.

Understand the Dangers of Chicken Footing

The problems with chicken footing go beyond simple not learning tricks, though that is the main thing happening. Worse though, is pain that bails cause. Bruised heels and strained knees quickly and reliably result from jumping gaps and bailing, just as landing kickflips on one foot like a flamingo leads to busted shins with nothing to show for the blood and scars. Landing on your skateboard while moving forward takes most of the momentum out of a majority of slams.

Focus and Trust

You must believe you can do a trick before you can truly commit. Understand what is involved, and visualize yourself doing the trick. Don’t break it down into micro movements; see yourself doing it in one smooth motion. See it, then go. Do not bail. If you’re going to do it, then do it — or stay home. Watch Enzo Cautela’s “Video Check Out” and pay attention to his last trick. If you bail on a jump like that, you might die.

When learning how to kickflip, for example, see yourself popping the ollie, performing the movement and catching the board. If you’re learning to 50-50 a ledge, visualize your trucks contacting the exact point where they lock in on the wheels. See it from another angle, such as underneath. You’re making a mind–muscle connection that will become automatic.


This is where the urethane meets the concrete. You’re approaching the stairs and you’ve just gone past the point where you could have stopped. It’s on. You’d better have enough speed, and you had better believe you’re going to do this. Now, disappear. Forget everything and be nothing. Just do the absolute best you can to pull this trick. The best way to avoid getting hurt is to land this trick and roll away clean.

Execution is a skill we learn as we skate. You can tell the ones who skate hard by the scars they carry and the look in their eyes when they try a trick. Look at Kyle Walker’s super-kinked-rail 50-50. Try to utilize the focus and commitment it took Walker to pull off that insanity on every trick you try. Make execution a habit.

Rolling Away

An adage in skateboarding goes like this, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.” But, if you’re bailing, you’re not learning either. Sometimes, a bail is necessary to have safe life and limb. When bailing becomes a habit, though, you are no longer skating. You’re just hanging out. Don’t be that guy. Respect skateboarding and go for it. Everything will be okay… probably.

I hope this article inspires you to either leave bailing behind or never pick up the awful habit. If so, you should share it with your friends, especially the one with the worst case of chicken foot. If you got something from this, let us know in the comments section. We leave you this time with Mark Gonzales’ classic video part in Blind’s “Video Days.”

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