August 17, 2019 6 min read
“How to Ollie” is one of the first questions any new skater should be asking. This is the first major skateboard trick and is the base of nearly every other trick in flat ground street skateboarding. Being one of the first it can be extremely frustrating and give a person so much trouble.
My task here is to simplify this trick so that you can learn it well and progress through it. So you can move into the rest of the skateboard tricks that you want to learn.
First off, a little history lesson. The Ollie was originally done by Allan “Ollie” Gelfand in 1976. The first ollie was actually on transitions and ramps, and used it to get above the coping by popping his back foot.
Street skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen was the first to bring it to the streets in 1982. He would do an ollie, but land on his back tail and go into another freestyle trick. Because he applied science and physics to skateboarding, he was able to turn that into the ollie that we know and love today. In fact, most of the skateboarding tricks that we know really did derive from this. If you want to know more, we made a video about it.
The Ollie is done by a series of movements that require coordination and lots of practice. One way I like people to think about it is as a separate series of movements. Each of these steps you can practice on their own and then put it all together.
If you watch some Ollie’s and then you try the whole series of motions all at once, it’s very difficult to develop the muscle memory necessary to learning each separate motion. It’s this style of learning that makes Braille’s “Skateboarding Made Simple” tutorial series so extremely effective along with learning the tricks in the proper order. I will list out the series of motions and how to best put them all together but before you get started on this trick there is an earlier step.
Before you get to the ollie, you have to learn to ride your board really well. In my opinion this is the most skipped step for new skateboarders and with this step not properly learned it gives them the most trouble in all of their future tricks. So ride your board to school to the store and to your grandmas house. Spend a good amount of time just riding your board. No tricks yet, just simply riding and pushing your board.
Good so now that all the warnings are out of the way let’s get to the Ollie
These are the steps to the ollie. Make sure you spend enough time on all of these. They’re all very important, and each step is there to put enough emphasis. Here’s a list of all the steps:
Put your feet in this position with your front foot straight on the board just down from those front bolts on the skateboard. Your back foot is on the tail with the ball of your foot on the center edge of the tail. While you’re on the board, your shoulders should be square with the board and not turned and your head looking straight forward. Your legs generally follow your upper body so being aware of what your upper body is doing can help a lot in learning the proper techniques.
Bend your front knee and push down on your back leg. Your back ankle bends and the ball of your foot pushes the tail of your board to the ground. You have the most speed and power in the motion of your ankle so repeating this motion with your ankle rather then your whole leg is important to learn well here. Push your tail down repeatedly until you feel very comfortable with this step. If you don’t get this step down well, like all the steps in this tutorial, you won’t be able to move on and actually learn the trick.
Now with your tail to the ground and all of your weight on your back foot we are going to work on the motion of your front foot. This is the hardest and most uncomfortable step for a new skater. This practice step right here is the make break of your Ollie. It’s an unnatural movement for your ankle which is why I think it’s the hardest for new skaters to learn. Your front ankle rolls forward putting the sole of your foot vertical on the board.
The front top of your foot will be in contact with the grip tape and that part of your foot is going to then drag up the grip tape. It’s important to understand which part of your foot slides on the grip tape and how to quickly move your foot to get it into this position.
It’s a fast roll of the ankle on the board dragging it up the grip tape. This step is where the magic of the Ollie comes in. Your front foot drags up the board pulling your board into the air. Repeat this practice step many, many times.
If you ever have trouble on later steps always come back to this step and practice the movement of your leg and foot. By doing this, you are building the muscle memory necessary to putting all these steps together.
There is one key step after dragging your foot up the board to create the lift and that is to push your front foot forward. You can do this step standing still just to get the motion down but as this is a coordinated piece between your front and back legs you cannot truly learn it until you are popping your board in the air.
So drag your front foot up and push it forward over the nose. Now let’s get to the coordination of putting this masterpiece together.
After those first 2 steps are mastered, you essentially are putting those steps together. This is all about timing and coordination. Drop your back leg and ankle, popping your tail on the ground with the ball of your back foot while you simultaneously bend your front knee, lifting your front leg up and rolling your front ankle so the front part of your foot can grab that grip tape and pull the board into the air.
Your back foot jumps up off the ground as soon as the board pops and your front foot begins the drag up the grip tape. Once your board has reached the peak of the Ollie, keep your back foot moving up while you push your front foot forward and this will level out your Ollie in the air. Getting that step down well will greatly increase the height of your Ollie.
Now that you are magically floating above the earth ready your landing gear by extending your knees slightly more. You don’t want to land with your knees fully extended or bent but in between. Your feet should be in a relatively similar position to the starting point with the exception of your front foot being possibly closer to the nose at this point. Bring your feet down and let your wheels roll.
Now get extremely excited, scream yell and shout as you just landed your first Ollie! Film it and post on Instagram tagging @brailleskate and #brailleskate. Let me know what step on here helped you the most so I can highlight that and we can get more people skating.
I hope this helped you and that all the rest of your skateboarding tricks will come easier from here out.
Here are some of the most common problems you might run into when attempting the Ollie.
Your front foot needs to actually roll up the board. Your front foot isn’t supposed to be sliding flat. It has to roll to the side of where your pinky toe should be in your shoe. If the front side of your shoe isn’t getting teared up, then you’re not rolling it right.
When popping with your back foot, you can’t just stomp it down and leave it there, otherwise the board doesn’t go anywhere! When popping, the action is actually in your ankle. And it actually leaves the board for a split second so the tail can come off the ground.
Take a look at the photo above. You see you how my foot rolls on the ankle, and then blasts off the tail? That’s what gets the height and allows you to really have a successful ollie.
Thank you very much for reading! We hope this helps you master the Ollie so you can keep progressing and learning on your skateboard.
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