How to kickturn on a skateboard

April 6, 2021 | Skateboarding
Kickturn: a fundamental skateboard technique that allows the rider to turn fast | Photo: Shutterstock

The kickturn is a fundamental skateboarding maneuver that allows you to change direction fast on flat ground or a ramp.

Once you've learned how to push on a skateboard and do tic-tacs, it is time to try and lift your front wheels to quickly change the direction you're heading.

Tic-tacs are an introduction to kickturns.

The only difference is that tic-tacs are subtle - and often temporary - changes in direction in the 60-to-90 and 90-to-120-degree range.

A tic-tac's main goal is to get the skateboard moving forward.

But with a kickturn, we lift the nose of the board further up and then pivot 180 degrees in the opposite direction. It's a fast turn.

The kickturn is a basic yet extremely useful technique that you can use and apply in various situations and contexts, including skateparks, streets, bowls, and ramps.

The secret lies in the cooperation between the back foot and front foot while simultaneously keeping a well-balanced body position and stance.

A skateboarder can perform a frontside or backside kickturn, depending on the stance he or she is on and the direction of desired rotation.

For instance, on a backside kickturn, your back is facing the ramp, while on a frontside kickturn, your chest will be facing the slope.

One of the most common problems beginner riders face is the fear of turning the complete 180 on flat ground or a ramp.

The good news is that the tic-tac helps build confidence into the kickturn.

Kickturn: a backside and frontside maneuver that sees the skateboard turn 180 degrees in ramps and flat grounds | Photo: Shutterstock

Kickturn 101

The best place to practice it is on a mini ramp or quarter pipe. The trick is to break down the kickturn into one-sided backside tic-tacs.

Here's how to do a backside kickturn:

1. Drop in on a mini ramp;

2. Eye the coping on the other side;

3. Move your back foot over to the tail and your front foot to the bolts just below the nose of the board;

4. Shift your weight to the back of the board and bend your front leg;

5. As you approach the slope, turn with your toes slightly and start doing mini tic-tacs in the direction you want to go;

6. Let your shoulders help with the turn by swinging them in the desired direction;

Extra Tips

Make sure to have your knees bent to lower the center of gravity and your weight centered over the board - do not apply too much pressure on your back foot.

Otherwise, the nose of the board will lift up too far, and you'll slip back and fall - so, just lift your front wheels slightly.

Whether you're a goofy or regular-footer, always throw your front shoulder and head in the direction you want to go.

You can also try and practice the kickturn while stationary - on grass, carpet, or a smooth surface.

Stand on your board shoulder and feet and shoulder-width apart, and then swing your shoulders gently and push on the tail.

If you're training the kickturn on a gentle bank ramp, start by pushing off your skateboard at a 45-degree angle with your back facing the slope.

As you ride up the bank, lean your head in, and as you begin to slow down, do a small kickturn.

As you get more comfortable, try to tighten the turning radius for a full 180 kickturn.

Remember to start the turn right before you come to a stop and to let your body follow your head in the direction you want to ride.

"When the board is pointed in the same direction as your momentum, you roll," explains Per Welinder, author of "Mastering Skateboarding."

"Because of this, the kickturn is a great way to pick up a little bit of speed when you don't have the space or time to push."

"If you watch skate videos, you will see people do this all the time."

"They're not just trying to squeeze kickturns in between all their big tricks; they're picking up speed and directing the board where they want it to go."

Frontside kickturns are a bit more complicated and require more practice because you'll be telling your brain to lean backward.

The trick is to stay on your heels and avoid pitching into your toes after landing.

To graduate in kickturns, try and complete a stationary 360 rotation.

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