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Science of Ollie in skateboarding

Enough "How to Ollie" already. It's time to analyze "WHY."

Different people say different things. "Use your ankle when popping," "Have your shoulders parallel to your board," etc.

You don't know what works the best for you as we have different body structures and set up of our boards. While "how to Ollie" changes, but "why we do it" doesn't. Let's scientifically analyze the motion.


Jumping (=raising your body) is different from popping.

While your body weight is on your board, you can't raise the nose no matter how hard you pop the tail. Jump and elevate your body weight before popping, which allows you to pop the tail freely.

Pop after raising your body.

After clearing your body weight from your board, it's time to pop. Use the ball of your back foot and pop straight down. Remember the difference between popping with your ankle and pushing down your board with your whole leg. Lifting body is a role of your thighs and popping the tail is a role of your ankle. Don't mix them up.

Slide up your front foot parallel to your board.

Once you pop properly, the nose starts rising in an ark which pushes your front foot back. By sliding your front foot up parallel to your board, "the force that the nose pushes your front foot back" and "the force your front foot slides the board up" compound, generating a force that goes vertically upward. You can raise your board higher by using this force. Remember you don't have to roll your ankle intentionally; it rolls by being pushed by the nose.


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Step1 Jump up and lift your body weight

Why does your board not rise even when you pop as hard as possible?

Have you ever wondered why you can pop the tail with a small energy while you are standing on the ground?

You can't lift your board no matter how hard you pop the tail while your body weight holds down your board.

So you need to remove your body weight on your board BEFORE popping.

If your body weight is not pushing down your board and is "floating" in the air, you can pop the tail with the same amount of energy as you are standing on the ground.


This "holding problem" can happen in other tricks, too. Please watch this video about Treflip.

Popping does NOT lift your body. Extending your thighs does.

Extend your thighs to lift your body. In this process, your board stays flat as you push down your board with both feet evenly.

There are two body parts that could lift your body weight; thighs and calves. In skateboarding, thighs lift your body and calf pops the tail. Try to keep this difference in mind.

Step2 Popping

Common problem of popping

When you jump while standing on the ground, your both feet leave the ground at the same height. Your body floats in the air by pulling up your feet.

In an Ollie, you have to keep the pressure on your back foot after elevating your body.

If you loosen the pressure on your back foot when the pressure on your front foot decreases, you won't be able to transfer enough energy to the tail.

Keep your backfoot low before popping

Practice lifting your body while keeping your backfoot low. Once your body reaches high enough and your back leg starts to extend, use your calf and ankle and pop down the tail. Keep in mind that popping is the work of your calf, and jumping is that of thighs.

How strongly should you pop?

From this angle, you can see that my back foot's toe doesn't touch the ground. It proves a human's calf generates enough energy to pop the tail and lifts the nose high enough.

So a snap of your ankle is all you need. You don't have to stomp down the tail with your whole leg.

Step0 Foot placement

Is there a correct foot placement?

Putting the tip of your back toe on the tail allows you to transfer energy to the tail effectively. Place your front foot 1~2 inch behind the front bolts.

Some people put their back foot in the center of the tail, while others put theirs slightly to the side. Place them wherever you feel comfortable. Being able to approach stablly is more important.

Step3 Slide up front foot

Mechanics that elevates your board

Why does sliding up your front foot lift your board?

As you pop the tail, the nose goes up in a form of an arc and pushes your front foot back. If you slide up your front foot parallel to your board, this arc-shaped energy and the force of your slide combine and form a vertical upward momentum. Focus on sliding up your front foot parallel to your board.

Note you don't have to raise your front foot intentionally. The vertical force that lifts your board is a product of your front foot sliding up your board and the board pushing it back.

Should you roll your ankle?

Your front ankle rolls due to the arc-shaped force mentioned above. You don't have to roll it intentionally.

Also, rolling ankle alone doesn't mean anything if your body holds down your board. So practice jumping, popping, and sliding up your front foot. And your front foot will eventually roll. Once again, your goal here is NOT to roll your ankle but to cause friction between your front foot and your board.

Frame of mind

Don't be consumed by Ollie

Some people leave skateboarding just because they can't Ollie. There are many different ways to enjoy skateboarding; sliding, skating on transitions, etc. Have fun. That's the key. If practicing Ollie is not fun, do something else and return to Ollies anytime.


Let's study the trick further in detail.

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Physiologically effective timing of Ollie

Timing matters. When your Ollie becomes rocketed or low, that could be because of timing rather than a lack of muscles.

Think about it; you can pop the tail while standing on the ground. So if it becomes incredibly harder in an Ollie, there must be hidden science behind it. This time, we will study the timing of an Ollie from a scientific and physiological point of view. Trust me, what we will discuss today applies to many other tricks, too, whether it's a treflip or 360 pop shove-it or noseslide, or what so ever.

Directon of front foot in Ollie in skateboarding

This content focuses on theories of an Ollie and mainly uses a physics engine. If you want more real-life-based skate content, please return next time.

This experiment mainly aims to verify the effect of an immediate impact. Please note that the actual physics may differ from this result because the front foot continuously applies force in reality.

How to lift the tail in Ollie with science

Your front foot and body goes up as you pop the tail. So sliding the nose forward brings the nose diagonally upward & forward when these energy combine. So what should you do when you want to push the nose horizontally forward? Let's scientifically break it down.

Why does your Ollie turn? Let's scientifically break it down

Why does my Ollie turn?

There are more than 5 reasons including the use of shoulders. Weight distribution could be a major factor, too.

Last time, we went over the basics of an Ollie. As a common problem, you might have hard time keeping your board parallel to the direction you are going. But is that really your shoulders that make your Ollie turn? I mean, it could be but is that all because of that? If it is, you shouldn't be able to Ollie with your shoulders open or front side 180 with your shoulders closed. But in reality, they are possible. This would probably mean that we are missing something radical.

Science of leveling an Ollie

How do I level my Ollie?

Leveling Ollie needs push of your front foot, weight distribution and the use of upper body.

Leveling Ollie requires much more than a simple pop of your back foot.

"Push the nose with your front foot." The action sounds simple, so why is it so hard? In fact, you can't simply push your front foot forward without paying attention to other elements of this trick, such as the movement of your back foot and weight distribution.

Let's scientifically break down the elements needed to level the board.

Trouble Shooting

Let's study the trick further in detail.

Proceed from the links below.