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5 Secrets on How to Varial Heelflip

Varial Heelflip Definition

Varial Heelfips are achieved by combining the Frontside Pop Shove-it and Heelflip together as one spin/flip trick. To some skateboarders this trick is also known as the frontside shove-it heelflip.

“Who would ever call it that?!” you ask? For example, professional skateboarder and legend of the sport,  Andrew Reynolds, refers to varial heelflips as shove-it heelflips. The reason why is more technical than you think.

In a 2015 interview, Tony Hawk explained that the word “varial” implies grabbing your board and turning 180 degrees. It’s because of this distinction that you’ll find some skateboarders referring to the varial heelflip as the frontside shove-it heelflip. 

In an attempt to keep things as simple and consistent as possible, we will be calling it the varial heellflip. Varial Heel, Shove-Heel, Heel-Varial, Heel-Shove, whatever you may call the trick, Braille Skateboarding and Skateboarding Made Simple can help you master it!

How to Varial Heelflip

It is recommended that you have both your frontside pop shove-its and heelflips at a decent level of consistency before attempting the varial heelflip. Having these two tricks dialed in will help you get used to the motions required for landing clean varial heelflips FIRST TRY. EVERY TRY.

Reviewing these 5 crucial steps will help you with your varial heelflips:

  1.  Foot position
  2. Body position
  3. Back foot popping
  4. Front foot flicking
  5. Landing

1. Foot Position

For this trick your front foot will be positioned for a heelflip while your back foot is in the same position it would be for a frontside pop shove it. Place your front foot somewhere around the middle of the board before your front bolts, with your big toe just slightly hanging off the edge of the board. Think of how you’d place your front foot if you were trying to pop your biggest ollie, then just move it up slightly so that big toe is off the board but the ball of your foot is still on it.

Your back foot should be placed on the heelside pocket of the tail, with pressure being applied using the ball of your foot while your heel hangs off the board. Angle your back foot diagonally so that the heel is pointing more towards your front foot than behind you.

As you work on this trick, you’ll find yourself adjusting your feet slightly to compensate for any over or under rotating/flipping that the board may be doing. 

Now that you’ve found the best foot position, it’s important to pay attention to how the rest your body is positioned. 

2. Body Position

Posture is an often over-looked aspect of learning a new trick that can have a huge impact on your success. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to your body position with varial heelflips. 

When you are bending down to pop this trick, you shouldn’t be hunched over and or leaning over your toes. This is setting you up for failure. When you bend over and lean too much on the toe side of the board, you will end up jumping in front of your board after you pop. This of course will cause the board to land behind you.

You may have experienced the same issue when learning regular heelflips. Fixing this issue for varial heelflips is no different. Instead of leaning over your toes when you bend down to pop, keep your back straight and shoulders in line with the bolts of your skateboard. Think of it the same way you’d safely lift something heavy off the ground. Don’t lift with your back, lift with your legs!

Apply this same mentality to popping your varial heel. Your chest should be facing forwards as you pop instead of facing down towards your griptape. This, along with the proper foot position, will keep the board under you instead of behind you.

3. Back foot popping

While it’s true that your board must do a frontside shove-it during this trick, you shouldn’t put too much focus into popping the board like you would for a frontside shove-it. With the varial heelflip, the purpose of your back foot is to pop the board almost straight up and around 45 degrees frontside.

As the board moves up vertically and begins the rotation, that is when your other foot would flick off on the right spot to complete the full rotation and flip. This differs from a frontside pop shove-it since your back foot and front foot are working together to flip the board correctly instead of the back foot fully controlling the board’s rotation.  It’s similar to popping a hardflip, as the board pops more straight up and relies on the other foot to help it around.

With your back foot in the proper pocket, you won’t require as much scoop as you might think. Remember after you’ve popped to bring both your knees up so you don’t land the trick with only one foot.

4. Front foot flicking

Do you believe in magic? You better because, this is where the magic happens! The front foot plays a huge role in the varial heelflip. Where your front foot makes contact with the board after you’ve popped it is what makes or breaks this trick. 

As your back foot pops the board up and turns it slightly frontside, your front foot will slide up like an ollie then flick out on the toe-side, at the pocket on the nose of your skateboard. Your “heel” shouldn’t exactly be the part of your foot that flicks off the board and causes the rotation. In reality, it is your pinky toe flicking off the toe-side pocket of the nose that makes the board flip and finish rotating.

Your foot should kick out similarly to a regular heelflip, then remember to bring your knees up to allow the flip to happen and to ensure your foot finds itself back on the board for the landing.

5. Landing

Landing this trick takes confidence. Hesitating or second guessing will have you landing one footed, or with the board behind you. For the board to complete the full frontside 180 rotation and to finish flipping you’re going to have to give it a moment.  Before you stomp down the landing gear, give the board the space it needs to finish the varial heelflip.

This trick can be a notorious “slow-flipper” so pop, flick, and suck those knees up! You may have to land quite a few slow flipping floaters before you’re able to catch this trick in the air. If the board is flipping too slow and hitting the ground before completing the varial heelflip, adjust your foot position. Bringing your feet closer together or further apart, hanging your toes off barely or hanging them off quite a bit…

All of these things will change how the board rotates for you. Find your sweet spot and commit yourself to popping, flicking, bringing both your knees up as you jump, spotting your landing and rolling away clean. Bolts. FIRST TRY.

We’ve included a tutorial below that will help you see all of the above in action. Keep in mind that the best way to learn varial heelflips is to get out there and practice them!

Braille Skateboarding wants to see YOUR varial heelflips! Film your best one and post it on instagram tagging @brailleskate and #brailleskate.  Let us know which of these step helped you the most so we can highlight that and get more people landing varial heelflips. Most importantly, have fun learning and mastering this classic trick!

Varial Heelflip Tutorial

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