How to Do the Heelflip on a Skateboard

01
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Heelflip Setup

The heelflip is similar to the kickflip and is a natural next trick to learn after you master the kickflip. If you don't know how to kickflip, first learn how to kickflip. Heelflips are a little harder than kickflips. If you are brand new to skateboarding, you'll need to learn how to ollie first.

 A heelflip is a trick in which a skater ollies (or jumps with his or her board) into the air and flicks the skateboard off his heel so that it spins in the air along the nose-tail axis, with the heel-edge coming up first while staying parallel to the ground. The board spins once, and the skater lands on the skateboard when the wheels are facing the ground again and ride away. 

02
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Heelflip Stance

Heelflip Stance Foot Placement
Jamie O'Clock

Position your feet as you would for an ollie -- with your back foot across the tail for the pop and your front foot near the center of the board. Put your front foot placed more forward on the board so that your toes hang off a little. This will make the trick much easier.

03
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The Pop and Kick

The pop is done just as you would for an ollie except that right after you pop the board into the air, you need to kick the heel of your front foot forward.

Once your front foot leaves the skateboard, point the toes of your front foot up in the air and kick your front foot forward, out in front of you. You want to be flicking the edge of the skateboard with your heel -- why it's called a heelflip.

04
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Get Out of the Way

Jeff Williams
Jeff Williams doing a heelflip. Markus Paulsen/Shazamm/ESPN

Just like with a kickflip, you want to get your feet out of the way of the board so that it can spin freely. Take this moment to pull your front foot back up underneath you and get ready to catch the skateboard. When you're heel-flipping, the skateboard can spin pretty fast. It helps to be looking down and watching the board spin but try to not lean forward.

05
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Stay Level

Paul Rodriguez
Paul Rodriguez doing the switch varial heelflip. Bryce Kanights/Shazamm/ESPN Images

Just like with the kickflip, make sure you stay level. If you lean too far forward -- as in, toward your toes, you will tend to leave your skateboard behind you. Keep yourself level and your weight over your skateboard. Take another look at this photo of P-Rod at the X Games, pulling off a switch varial heelflip. Notice how level his shoulders are with the ground.

06
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Catch the Skateboard

Once the skateboard has spun around completely one time, put your back foot on it to catch it. Once you catch the skateboard with your back foot, put your front foot on the skateboard.

07
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Land and Roll Away

Heelflip - land and roll away
Skater Steven Reeves. Michael Andrus

This is done just like with a kickflip. As you fall back toward the ground and land, bend your knees again. Bending your knees helps absorb the shock of landing on your skateboard, keeps your knees from getting hurt from the impact and keeps you in control of your skateboard. Bend your knees deeply as you land. Finally, just roll away. 

08
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Alternate Heelflip Style

Alternate Heelflip Target
Jamie O'Clock

The heelflip can be done other ways as well. A very popular method technically isn't a heelflip at all, but the skateboard does spin in the same way. This method is called the anti-kickflip or opposite-kickflip. Most people find it easier than the true kickflip, and it can look a lot cleaner.

In this version of the heelflip, set your feet up the same way you would for a kickflip. When you pop your board into the air, you make the same motion as with a kickflip, but you flick the board on the opposite corner (see photo). This makes the skateboard spin the opposite way from a kickflip. It's a fairly simple variant of the trick.

However, be careful -- the kickflip is a more natural way for your board to want to spin. With this heelflip version, the board has a good chance of flipping up and nailing you in the groin. Sound like fun? Oh, it isn't.

09
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Common Heelflip Problems

Heelflip problems and help
Michael Andrus
  • Skateboard doesn't spin enough -- This is the most common problem with heelflips. You have to get a good, strong pop off of your tail, and you need to give the board a good strong flick. If you are using the alternate heelflip method (the "opposite kickflip"), the board does spin more slowly than with the true heelflip method. 
  • Skateboard goes behind you -- This is a pretty common heelflip problem that comes from leaning too far forward (as in toe side, not toward the nose). Try focusing on leaning back a little, toward your heel side edge. Keep your weight centered over your skateboard, and this won't be a problem.
  • You can't' control your board --  Your board pops up and might nail you in the groin. This is probably happening because you are using your toes in the flip -- make sure to use just your heel. 
  • Trouble catching the board -- Have someone watch you heelflip. If your tail is dragging too close to the ground, then give a stronger pop and put some pressure on your front foot to even out the skateboard. If your problem is with the actual landing, make sure you are catching the board with your feet flat and even. Don't use only your toes. You might need more air in order to have enough time for this.