Understanding the Fear
As for every fear, in order to overcome it you must find out what is actually scaring you. Obviously what scares us most when skateboarding is falling on the ground, and the pain that comes with it. But what makes you believe that you are going to fall ? Sometime we are not exactly scared about falling but scared about falling going fast because our brain is convinced that the faster you go the more painful the crash.
It may be true in some case, if you step of your board at full speed you are probably going to fall harder that if you were static. Most of the time the scariest gap for a beginner is going from to performing a trick stationary to performing it rolling. That is perfectly understandable because as you are moving, physics are changing. Your balance will be challenged and the trucks are not going to respond the same way.
So you have to ask yourself what scares you when you try to ollie while moving. Is it just falling ? Falling harder ? Falling a certain way ? Credicard ? Or is it a bit more complex like you are ollieing perfectly stationary but when you try to do it rolling you land a bit on the side with your front foot and you wheelbite hard ?
In any case you must rationalize your fear the most precisely and be able to express it: not just “I’m scared of ollieing while moving” but “I’m scared of ollieing while moving because I think I’m going to land on the tail and fall backward”.
Now that you understood the root of your fear, it is time to fix it. When I started to learn how to ollie while moving I was scared of loosing balance as my tail was hitting the ground and falling backward. I found out that it was because my stance was different when I was rolling from when I was stationary. I adjusted my stance and made sure my balance was correct. I then had no reason to fall backward and a part of my fear went away. So as you know what is the root of your fear you have to find what to change to feel more secure. You are scared to land with your front foot on your nose and falling forward ? Just practice stationary or slowly to correctly land on your board. I know that’s easier said than done but you have to fix incorrect movements in order to feel confident and safe. If you do perfect ollies stationary you will feel safer when you try it rolling than if you stationary ollies are sketchy.
But for some people, like me, the gap between doing an ollie stationary and doing an ollie rolling at 1mph seems really big. To overcome that gap you have to decrease it and for that I found some tips that are helpful to me and that can be helpful for you too.
Practicing on grass, or even better on fake grass.
- Practicing on grass make it a bit harder to pop but your board will be stable and you won’t be as much scared to fall.
- Falling on grass is most of the time absolutely painless and your brain knows it. So you won’t be scared as much as on concrete and you are more likely to commit.
- Once you have built enough confidence by practicing on grass it will be easier to try on concrete as you know you won’t fall.
- The only problem with grass is that your balance will be quite different as your board is not moving so don’t spent all your afternoon practicing on grass. Try to alternate grass and concrete.
Using a wall to propel yourself
That a weird tip I discovered I discovered lately. I realized that sometime when I was practicing my ollie, by the time my feet were in correct position, my skateboard had slowed down too much. Or sometime I would push harder and so my speed was too high for my liking once my feet were in position and waiting too much for it to slow down would decrease my confidence.
So I found a solution, to have a reproducible speed with my feet in correct position. I put my feet in the ollie position, just near a wall, and then push the wall to get rolling.
- It is easy to adjust your force to get the speed you need to be confident.
- You can tweak your feet position as you can make sure that they are exactly where you want before you get moving.
- You can build up speed as your feel more secure and more used to be moving.
Once you stop using the wall and start, you have to make sure you keep the same feet position but you will be used to it so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Ride you board
It may sound stupid but you have to actually feel confident ridding your board before you can ollie while ridding. And the most you ride your board, the more confident you will be and the easiest it will be.
Practice again and again and again…
Nothing beats practice. Don’t spend like 5 minutes trying to get to ollie and then give up, to start over again a week later. Try to practice every day, even if it’s not for a long time. Try spend a certain amount of time (1/2 hour, 1 hour) each time you go skateboarding. And don’t give up, you will get it in no time.
A tip for ugly ollies
Once I overcame my fear I was subject to another problem. I was not scared to ollie while rolling but my ollies were really ugly. Like you can see on my post : The Physics of a Skateboard Trick: Why my Ollies are Garbage ? To fix that you can do the same as I did and as I’m still doing. Take a camera or a cellphone with a tripod and record yourself. My camera can film in 60 fps in 720p so I can watch my clips in slow motion. It is really helpful to see what you are, or not, doing. But beware, it can be a bit deceitful, you may have though your ollie was good and discover afterward that your back wheels lifted only just a little from the ground.
I hope these few tips helped you. I know it’s not that much but most of your progress will depend on practice. But to be effective you have to practice well so make sure you are doing the right movements. If you are not, adjust. If you are not sure, ask a friend or even better record yourself with a camera. Make sure your front foot slide is done well and do not hesitate to exaggerate it at the beginning.
You should watch the series of videos on how to ollie by Aaron Kyro but I recommend you also watch the VLSkate‘s one which gives a different perspective, it helped me a lot and it can be useful for you too.