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The Physics of Skateboarding: How Tricks Work

By Andres Pachon

A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.


Skateboarding has been of tremendous impact worldwide in many different ways! It has influenced art, music, fashion, and many more countercultural movements over the last 4 decades or so! Its impact has been proven in many fields, we have certainly felt that impact on our lives, but not many people tend to see the actual science behind it! All of the crazy SHIT® you are able to do on a board and the possibilities it has to offer.

Have you ever seen someone do a trick and think “How did he do that?” “How is this possible?” some of us already have a notion on how it’s done, some others (non-skaters) have no idea how this is accomplished. If skateboarders had been born in biblical times they would probably consider us warloks and witches because of the amazing magic we put out on the streets!

Far from being magic, there are many factors that allow us to do what we do! And it doesn’t hurt to get to know some of the technical aspects that help us do the SHIT® only skaters could ever dream of!






The Physics Of Skateboarding

Skateboarders over the years have developed an intuitive ability that helps us guide ourselves in our progress in the discipline, that’s a huge accomplishment in itself! But it wouldn’t hurt to figure out how the mechanics of skateboarding tricks work, especially if you are a perfectionist and are looking to take your skateboarding to the next level with more complex and technical skateboarding tricks! Let’s check out some of the physics behind the most basic and important skateboarding tricks!


The Hippie Jump

This is one of the tricks many people were not able to see how it was possible, and as simple as it seems, there’s a lot of SHIT® behind it! One of the most important being that skaters figured out how to jump their bodies off the board and then land back on it regardless of the board being in motion! Without this discovery, the tricks would have had remained static, and what fun would that be right?!

The equations of projectile motion, clearly explain the physics behind this trick, in simple words, as your body is on the skateboard in motion, it moves pretty much as the same speed, once you jump, your body continues to move forward in the direction and speed of the board, causing you to land on it!






The Ollie

One of the most fundamental skateboarding tricks, the one trick that brought the huge discovery that a board could fly in the air without the help of ramps! the motions on your body and the friction between the ground and the tale of the board (the pop!) would bring a whole new level of possibilities for those who shaped the discipline to what it is now.

There are at least 4 stages to an ollie and more than 5 “forces” or motions that allow for the trick to be completed, they all need to work in harmony and timing is also essential for a successful ollie. From the accommodation of your feet, the gap of time between the crouch, the pop, the scratch, and the jump, there is plenty of room for error! That’s why some skaters take months to learn this “basic” trick that as we can see is not so basic after all and is the foundation of all of your advanced tricks.



Yep, you heard right! Bill Robertson who has been skating for over 30 years is trying to teach local kids in his area about the importance of science and physics in skateboarding!

Skateboarders see the world differently and are scientists in their own way according to Bill, who as a skater himself, has noticed how something as simple as a skatepark, can become a research field, were even geometry and math come into being part of the skateboarding game! He has been in the teaching biz for a long time now, teaching from biology to Spanish and he now has accomplished one of his biggest goals and become a skateboarder with a Ph.D. which literally makes him a doctor!

He is trying to get skaters all over the world to understand and embrace the value they have as creative, analytic, and intelligent people! abilities that he says, can be developed and exploited not only in the learning of skateboarding but also in other fields that could help kids not only grow personally but also professionally.

Dr. Skateboard found a way to merge two of his biggest interests, physics and skateboarding, into his teaching process when he saw how kids in middle school got more interest in learning stuff if it was related to a topic they were fond of, such as skateboarding.



ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER ADVERTISEMENTAksel Sørum Professional Skateboarder from Norway



Practice And Understanding Makes Masters

Bill has been using this method and hitting local skateparks were his younger dudes have learned from him terms like motion, speed, gravity, force, acceleration, rotation, and more! that are now being used in their learning and understanding process of tricks they are trying to puff off.

When he sees someone failing a trick and goes and asks them what they need to achieve it, kids know exactly how to explain it in detail and sound like geniuses while doing it!

“Learning happens when you go to areas of high risk and high ambiguity. Yet it's not just enough to learn -- the goal should really center on mastery. To master something takes a long time, which skateboarders at a local park know fundamentally” says Dr. Skateboard about his teaching experience and learning methods. “Whether a student is mastering skateboarding, painting, the guitar, a new language, science, or mathematics, developing one kind of mastery can help him or her master something else”.

There you have it my dudes and dudettes! Is not something most skaters dedicate to, but if you are one of those that whats to know how everything works and are still early on your learning process, it is definitely worth it to check out how skateboarding works!

The internet has many resources that can help us learn these principles in-depth and if you want to check out more info about this, we highly recommend you check out Dr.Skateboard’s website and start learning how skateboarding makes us all empiric geniuses!


Read also: Top 5 Best Skateboarding Decks

Read also: Best Sites To Learn How To Skate Online


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