How to Ollie: The Foundation of Skateboarding

How to Ollie: The Foundation of Skateboarding

Skateboarding is a sport that captivates the hearts of many with its unique blend of creativity, athleticism, and freedom of expression. At the core of this exhilarating activity lies a fundamental trick that serves as the gateway to a world of endless possibilities: the ollie. Mastering the ollie is crucial for any aspiring skateboarder, as it forms the foundation upon which more advanced tricks are built. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the intricacies of the ollie, providing you with the knowledge and techniques necessary to take your skateboarding skills to new heights.

The ollie, invented by the legendary skateboarder Alan "Ollie" Gelfand in the late 1970s, revolutionized the sport by introducing a maneuver that defied gravity and allowed skaters to effortlessly launch themselves and their boards into the air. It quickly became the quintessential trick that every skateboarder strives to conquer. What sets the ollie apart from other tricks is its versatility, as it can be incorporated into various combinations and used as a building block for more complex maneuvers.

Mastering the ollie is not merely about achieving a specific trick; it is about cultivating a solid foundation that enables you to push the boundaries of your skateboarding abilities. By dedicating time, patience, and perseverance to honing your ollie skills, you open up a world of opportunities for endless creativity and progression in your skateboarding journey.

Get ready to unlock the key to skateboarding's fundamental trick—the ollie. Let's dive into the intricacies of this dynamic maneuver and embark on a journey of self-expression, athleticism, and pure skateboarding bliss.

Foot Position

One of the fundamental aspects of learning how to ollie is understanding the correct foot positioning on the skateboard. Proper foot placement plays a crucial role in achieving balance, control, and executing the ollie with precision. In this section, we will delve into the details of foot position and its impact on the ollie technique.

 Front Foot Position

The front foot is responsible for guiding the ollie and controlling the board in mid-air. Follow these key points for proper front foot positioning:

1. Place your front foot near the bolts: Position the ball of your front foot just behind the front set of bolts. This placement allows for optimal control over the board during the sliding and leveling phases of the ollie.

2.  Angle your front foot slightly diagonally: Angle your front foot diagonally across the skateboard, with the toes pointing towards the nose. This positioning provides stability and helps initiate the slide of the front foot along the grip tape.

3. Find a comfortable stance: Experiment with different stances, such as having your front foot angled more towards the nose or slightly angled towards the tail. Find a position that feels natural and allows you to generate power and control during the ollie.

Back Foot Position

 The back foot is responsible for popping the tail, generating upward momentum, and maintaining stability. Consider the following points when positioning your back foot:

  1. Place your back foot on the tail: Position the ball of your back foot on or just behind the tail of the skateboard. The back foot should be centered, providing a solid base for the popping motion.

2. Keep the heel hanging off the edge: To ensure maximum leverage for the pop, allow the heel of your back foot to hang off the edge of the skateboard slightly. This positioning enables you to apply downward pressure effectively and generate a powerful pop.

3. Find your sweet spot: Experiment with the exact placement of your back foot on the tail to find your personal sweet spot. Some skaters prefer their back foot closer to the bolts, while others find more success with it closer to the edge of the tail. Test different positions and determine what feels most comfortable and allows for consistent pops.

Weight Distribution

 Maintaining proper weight distribution between the front and back foot is crucial for balance and control throughout the ollie. Consider these guidelines:

  1. Balance weight evenly between both feet: When preparing to ollie, distribute your weight evenly between the front and back foot. This balanced stance helps ensure a controlled pop and allows for a smooth transition into the sliding and leveling phases.

2. Shift weight towards the back foot during the pop: As you prepare to pop the tail, shift a slightly larger portion of your weight towards the back foot. This weight transfer helps generate power and allows for a forceful pop, propelling the skateboard into the air.

3. Rebalance weight during the leveling phase: Once you've popped the tail and initiated the slide of the front foot, gradually shift your weight back towards the center of the board. This rebalancing ensures that the skateboard levels out in mid-air, providing stability and control.

It's important to note that while these guidelines provide a solid foundation, individual preferences and styles may vary. Experimentation and practice will help you discover the foot positioning that works best for you and allows for consistent and controlled ollies.

Remember, mastering the correct foot positioning is just the first step towards executing a proper ollie. In the next section, we will explore the technique of popping the tail and generating upward momentum.


Mastering The “Ollie” Pop

The pop is an essential element of the ollie, as it provides the initial upward momentum that allows the skateboarder to lift off the ground. Mastering the pop requires proper technique, timing, and a controlled motion. In this section, we will delve into the details of how to execute the pop effectively and achieve optimal height and stability during your ollies.

Foot Positioning


Before attempting the pop, it's crucial to have the correct foot positioning on the skateboard. Your back foot should be placed on the tail of the skateboard, with the ball of your foot near the edge of the tail. Your toes should be angled slightly towards the heel-side edge of the board. This positioning will enable you to generate maximum force when popping the tail.


Weight Distribution


To initiate the pop, you need to shift your weight to the back foot while keeping your front foot relatively light on the board. This weight distribution allows you to effectively transfer your energy into the tail and generate upward momentum. Keep your knees slightly bent, ready to explode into the pop.


Popping Technique


To execute the pop, use the ball of your back foot to forcefully stomp down on the tail of the skateboard. This action should be quick, snappy, and controlled. Imagine you're trying to make the tail hit the ground with a sharp, explosive motion. The force applied should be directed vertically to generate maximum height.




Timing is crucial when it comes to the pop. As you crouch down and prepare to pop, focus on the timing of your movements. The pop should occur just as you reach the lowest point of your crouch, right before you start extending your legs for the jump. This timing allows you to utilize the maximum energy generated from the downward motion of your body.


Exerting Force


As you pop the tail, make sure to exert enough force to create a strong upward motion. The more force you put into the pop, the higher your ollie will be. However, it's important to find the right balance. Applying too little force will result in a weak ollie, while applying too much force can lead to instability or uncontrollable board movement. Experiment with the amount of force you exert on the tail until you find the sweet spot.


Control and Stability


While generating the pop, it's crucial to maintain control and stability. Keep your body centered over the skateboard, with your shoulders aligned parallel to the board. This positioning helps maintain balance during the pop and sets you up for a controlled jump. It's also important to engage your core muscles to stabilize your body and keep the board under control.


Practice and Refinement


Mastering the pop requires practice and refinement. Start by focusing on the technique and timing, gradually increasing the force you apply to the tail. As you become more comfortable, pay attention to the height and stability of your ollies. Experiment with different amounts of force, timing, and body positioning to find what works best for you.

Additional Tips:

  • Use the muscles in your back leg to generate power and force during the pop.

  • Practice popping the tail without actually jumping to isolate the motion and get a feel for the timing and power required.

  • Remember to keep your front foot relatively light on the board during the pop, as too much pressure can hinder the sliding motion of your front foot.



Sliding The Front Foot


The next crucial element in mastering the ollie is the sliding of the front foot. Once you have successfully popped the tail and initiated the upward motion, it's time to slide your front foot up the grip tape to level the board in mid-air. This sliding motion is what enables you to bring the board up and maintain control during the ollie.

The front foot plays a vital role in the ollie by applying pressure and creating the necessary momentum to bring the board off the ground. The technique involves dragging either the side or toe of your shoe across the grip tape towards the nose of the board. It's important to find the right balance between using enough force to slide the foot, but not so much that it disturbs your balance or causes you to lose control.

To execute the sliding motion effectively, start by positioning your front foot just behind the bolts of the skateboard. This placement provides stability and allows you to have more control over the sliding motion. As you initiate the slide, focus on dragging the side or toe of your shoe firmly against the grip tape. The contact should be continuous and smooth, allowing your foot to glide along the surface.

Precision and consistency are key factors when it comes to sliding the front foot. Aim to slide your foot up the grip tape in a straight line, following the direction of the skateboard. Any deviation from this straight path can affect the board's stability and hinder your control in the air. Practice the sliding motion repeatedly, paying attention to the angle, pressure, and position of your foot.

It's important to note that the timing of the front foot slide is crucial for a successful ollie. The slide should occur immediately after the pop, when the tail is still in contact with the ground. Sliding too early can cause the board to lose momentum, while sliding too late may result in an uncontrolled and sloppy ollie. Focus on synchronizing the pop and slide, ensuring a seamless transition between the two movements.

Experiment with different parts of your foot to find what feels most comfortable and natural for you. Some skaters prefer dragging the side of their foot, while others find success with the toe. Find the technique that suits you best and allows for consistent execution. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so it's essential to explore and adapt to what works for you personally.

During the sliding motion, it's important to maintain a level of pressure on the board without excessively pushing down. The purpose of the slide is to level the board, not to push it down into the ground. By keeping a balanced pressure, you'll be able to bring the board up to the desired height while maintaining control and stability.

Consistency is key when practicing the sliding motion. It might take some time and repetition before you achieve a smooth and fluid slide. Be patient with yourself and focus on gradually improving your technique. Film yourself or ask a friend to provide feedback on your foot position, slide motion, and overall execution. Analyzing your performance can help you identify any areas that require adjustment and allow for targeted improvement.

In addition to the technical aspects, remember to maintain a relaxed and confident posture throughout the sliding motion. Tension in your body can disrupt your balance and hinder your ability to execute the ollie correctly. Keep your movements fluid, breathe naturally, and maintain a positive mindset.

Leveling The Board


Leveling the board is a crucial aspect of the ollie that determines the height and stability of your jump. By lifting your front foot while sliding it forward, you create a level platform for your skateboard to remain parallel to the ground during the entire trick.

In this section, we will delve into the significance of leveling the board, highlight the importance of maintaining balance and control, and provide useful tips to help you keep your board parallel to the ground.


Significance of Leveling the Board


When you pop the tail and slide your front foot up the grip tape, leveling the board ensures that it remains in a balanced and controlled position throughout the ollie. It prevents the board from tilting or rotating in the air, allowing you to maintain stability and land smoothly. Without proper leveling, you may find it difficult to execute tricks consistently and progress to more advanced maneuvers.


Maintaining Balance and Control


To effectively level the board, it's essential to maintain balance and control over your body and skateboard. Here are some key points to consider:


Focus on Your Center of Gravity


Keep your weight centered over the board during the entire ollie. Distribute your weight evenly between both feet, allowing for better control and stability. Avoid leaning too far forward or backward, as this can disrupt the leveling process.


Engage Your Core Muscles


A strong core provides stability and control. Engage your abdominal muscles to maintain a stable body position while in mid-air. This will help you keep your board level and prevent any unnecessary wobbling.


Bend Your Knees


Bending your knees acts as a shock absorber and provides better control over your board. Keep your knees slightly flexed throughout the ollie to absorb the impact upon landing and maintain stability during the trick.


Keep Your Shoulders Parallel to the Ground


Align your shoulders with the skateboard's deck, ensuring they remain parallel to the ground. This posture helps maintain a level board, preventing it from tilting or turning unintentionally.


Tips for Keeping the Board Parallel


To keep your board parallel to the ground, consider the following tips:


Focus on Your Front Foot


As you slide your front foot forward, pay close attention to its positioning. Aim to keep it level with the skateboard deck throughout the motion. Avoid lifting the front foot too high or allowing it to drop too low, as this can cause the board to tilt or rotate.


Maintain a Fluid Motion


Ensure that your sliding motion is smooth and controlled. Avoid jerky or sudden movements that could disrupt the leveling process. Practice sliding your front foot with a consistent speed and motion, maintaining a fluid and controlled action.


Visualize the Leveling


Mentally visualize your skateboard being parallel to the ground. This visualization can help you maintain focus and improve your ability to level the board consistently. Picture the board remaining perfectly flat and level as you execute the ollie.


Land with Control


A smooth landing is crucial for maintaining the levelness of your board. As you prepare to land, extend your legs slightly to absorb the impact and maintain balance. Aim to land with both feet on the bolts, distributing your weight evenly, which will assist in keeping the board parallel to the ground upon landing.


Progress Gradually


Perfecting the levelness of your board takes practice and patience. Start by focusing on getting comfortable with the ollie and gradually work on refining the leveling aspect. Remember that consistency is key, and with time and practice, you will develop a better feel for maintaining a level board throughout the entire trick.


Leveling the board is a critical element in executing a successful ollie. By lifting the front foot and maintaining balance and control, you ensure that your board remains parallel to the ground, resulting in a higher and more stable jump. Remember to focus on your center of gravity, engage your core muscles, and keep your shoulders parallel to the ground. Practice the sliding motion of your front foot and visualize a level board. With dedication and perseverance, you will master the art of leveling your board and take your skateboarding skills to new heights.


Progressing Beyond The Ollie


Once you have mastered the ollie, a whole world of possibilities opens up in the realm of skateboarding. The ollie serves as the foundation for numerous advanced tricks that will allow you to take your skills to the next level. In this section, we will explore some of the popular tricks you can learn after mastering the ollie and discuss how they build upon the fundamental skills you have acquired.




The kickflip is one of the most iconic tricks in skateboarding. It involves flipping the board 360 degrees along the length while simultaneously performing an ollie. To execute a kickflip, you will need to master the flick of your front foot, which causes the board to flip. The ollie skills you have developed, such as popping the tail, sliding your front foot, and leveling the board, will provide a solid foundation for learning kickflips. Practice your kickflips by combining the techniques of the ollie and flicking your front foot to initiate the flip.




Similar to kickflips, heelflips involve flipping the board, but instead of using your front foot, you use your back foot. In a heelflip, the board rotates 360 degrees along the length. By mastering the ollie, you have already developed the crucial skills of popping the tail and leveling the board, which are essential for executing a heelflip. Focus on the flick of your back foot to initiate the rotation while maintaining control and balance throughout the trick.




180s are a fundamental trick that adds style and variety to your skateboarding. As the name suggests, a 180 involves rotating your body and the skateboard 180 degrees while in mid-air. By mastering the ollie, you have already developed the necessary skills to perform a 180. To execute this trick, start by popping the tail and sliding your front foot while rotating your shoulders and hips in the desired direction. Maintain control of the board and land smoothly by keeping your eyes focused on the landing spot.


Varial Kickflips and Varial Heelflips


Varial kickflips and varial heelflips combine the elements of the ollie, kickflips, and heelflips. In a varial kickflip, the board performs a kickflip rotation while simultaneously spinning 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Similarly, in a varial heelflip, the board rotates while performing a heelflip motion and spinning 180 degrees. These tricks require a solid foundation in ollies, kickflips, and heelflips, as they involve combining the flicks and rotations of these tricks. By building upon your ollie skills, you can gradually progress to mastering these more complex variations.


Remember, progressing beyond the ollie takes time and dedication. Practice each trick consistently, focusing on perfecting the foundational elements while gradually adding the new components. It is essential to maintain a positive mindset and embrace the learning process, as mastering these advanced tricks requires patience and perseverance.


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