If you’re just starting out street skating, you’re probably already making a mental list of tricks to learn first. Of all the beginner skateboard tricks, you’ll want to learn to shuv-it, kickflip, boardslide, manual—these tricks are essential to street skating.
Yes, these tricks are easier than most more advanced tricks. But they’re so important to learn and really lock down because they’re fundamental to not only learning more advanced tricks but to becoming a better skateboarder in general. The motions and techniques used for these basic tricks open the door to harder tricks and to learning the nuances of balance and board control needed to ramp up your skating.
By this point you probably have a board already, but if you need help we can show you the best beginner skateboards that will make learning these tricks easier.
That’s exactly why you should learn these six tricks first. To be clear, we won’t tell you how to do these tricks. For that, there’s plenty of postings and videos (and we’ve included a few). Instead, we want to tell you why these tricks are great go-to choices for when you’re just starting out. And as you start our, whenever you make your way to the skatepark be sure to brush up on your skatepark etiquette as well.
The shuv-it forces your body and feet to act counterintuitively. When just cruising on your skateboard, you’ll want to keep feet over the bolts of your board for stability. But when doing a shuv-it, you’ll have to let weight off your front foot while still using it to keep the board level as it rotates 180 degrees. It’s a pretty unnatural motion and feeling to get used to.
But that’s what learning tricks is all about—forcing your body and feet to do things that don’t feel, well, natural or easy. The shuv-it opens the door to more advanced tricks like varial flips, hardflips, and 360 flips. Mastering the scooping motion required by your back foot also lets you manipulate the board’s direction and angle of rotation as it moves through the air. It’ll feel clunky at first, but it’s a fundamental skill.
The kickflip is a pretty big stepping stone when it comes to beginner skateboard tricks. Once you’ve learned this staple, you’re on your way to more advanced tricks. The kickflip is so important because it teaches you to manipulate the board midair using your front foot. While the ollie requires a similar technique, pulling off a kickflip requires more precise movement. Plus, learning to kick your foot and toes outward and then quickly retract them to catch the board takes some whole-body coordination.
When midair, your front foot steers the board while your back foot supplies all the power. The kickflip is a great trick to learn early on because it helps you get used to this dynamic. You’ll have to launch your board upward, flick it to spin the skateboard deck, then keep yourself airborne to catch and land on top of the griptape—it’s a lot of steps to pull off in less than a second, but they’re all crucial abilities.
The boardslide will probably be the first rail trick that you’ll learn, and for good reason. If you can ollie high enough to clear your front wheels over a rail or ledge, you can go for a boardslide. Sliding on the wooden part of your deck on a rail feels pretty unnatural at first—your board will probably shoot out beneath your feet.
But there’s more to balance in skateboarding than just standing atop wheels. It takes some pretty precise movement with your hips and shoulders to stay balanced on a rail, and learning to boardslide will improve your balance in general while skating. Also, you’ll learn to quickly resist leaning backward, which makes your board shoot out while boardsliding. Keeping your shoulders square over your deck is key to many other slides, grinds, and tricks, so it will serve you well to learn this early.
Yes, there are plenty of beginner skateboard tricks to master that don’t require ollieing. Great manual balance is an essential skill for any street skater, and competing with yourself and friends to achieve the longest manual is always a good time!
Lift your front or back skateboard wheels off the ground and balance on two wheels to lock into a manual. Like the boardslide, the manual relies on balance to pull off. Actually, that’s all it requires—most tricks are a combination of balance, foot movements, and power. The manual is only about balance. So, it’s no surprise that working on your manual balance early will improve your all-around balance.
You’ll also find that where you position your feet when doing a manual will help you determine what’s most comfortable and feels right for other tricks. How far forward or backward your feet are positioned respective to the concave pockets in your deck determine balance, pop, and all sorts of other trick nuances.
Just as boardslides are the first slide trick you’ll learn (probably), the first grind you’ll attempt is going to be a 50-50, where both of the skateboard’s trucks grind along the rail or ledge you’re skating. The 50-50 is a great go-to grind because it mimics the same position as riding your board. That is to say, you’ll stand on top of the ledge or rail with both trucks planted firmly.
It sounds easy enough, but it takes a lot more balance and board control to grind a 50-50 than it does to ride along smooth pavement. If you’re not perfectly square over the top of your board, you’ll either stop moving or fall off the edge while grinding. As with many other grinds and slides, you have to precisely hit the rail/ledge with the part of your skateboard that’s doing the grinding.
Similarly, your body and the ratio of front-to-back weight has to be exact. Without these steps in place, you’ll simply fail to move at all while grinding or sliding or quickly become detached from your board. So, pick a small object like a curb or short flat bar and learn to 50-50 before going further with other beginner skateboard tricks.
A list of beginner skateboard tricks wouldn’t be complete without at least one old school trick! Before the ollie became a street skating trick staple, the boneless provided a means of getting yourself airborne. A boneless involves taking your front foot off the deck and launching yourself upward while grabbing the middle of your board with your back hand.
Like a lot of skateboarding tricks, the boneless feels a little off-kilter when your first try it. But since it involves reaching for your deck, kicking off with your front foot and then jumping back on top of your board, learning and mastering all of these steps will give you more balance, control, and variability.
Not every great trick starts with an ollie, as the boneless demonstrates. And by learning different movements and styles of tricks, you’ll be a more versatile skateboarder. Every trick learned opens the door to other tricks and to the underlying techniques, board feel, and balance needed to be a well-rounded and diverse street skater.