Who Invented the Kickflip? And the Origin of Other Skateboarding Tricks

The origins of skateboarding go back to the 1940s when kids in California tried to mimic the feeling of surfing by throwing roller skates on the bottom of a piece of wood. These rudimentary skateboards often came with a wood crate on the nose to provide something for the skater to hold on to but also preventing almost every trick we know today from being invented.

Once the crate was removed… skateboarding was put on a direct path to becoming a worldwide sport.

The Ollie – Alan Gelfand

The most basic of skateboarding moves. Alan most notably pictured performing the move throughout the 1970’s in a skateboarding magazine “Skateboarder”. While it’s debated whether a frontside or backside ollie was done first, Alan’s ollie was only performed while skating in a bowl and it wasn’t until years later that it was adapted into the more common use today: the flatland or freestyle ollie.

The Shove-It – Ty Page

One of the “Lords of Dogtown“, Ty invented the 180 and 360 shove it in the early 1970s. Initially performing the moves at competitions, judges weren’t familiar with the trick and often didn’t reward his innovations accordingly because they weren’t the typical tricks seen at that time. The shove-it is often seen as the first board rotational trick successfully performed without the aid of rails or edges.

The Kickflip – Rodney Mullen

Prior to the kickflip we see today, skaters would often utilize a rail or edge to assist in a board flip. So while these earlier flips don’t have an origin story, the “ollie flip” or “kickflip” was first seen as a magical skill. in 1982, many skaters would watch Mullen perform his trick at competitions and be unable to replicate his feat let alone explain how he was performing it.

Today, the kickflip is a standard move for beginners and yelled by Tony Hawk to random skaters to perform.

360 Flip – Rodney Mullen

Combining the shove it and kickflip is the basis for the 360 flip. The board rotates 360 degrees horizontally to the ground while also rotating like a kickflip. As one can imagine, it’s one of the most difficult flatland skateboarding tricks. — A year after inventing the kickflip, Rodney landed the first 360 flip. Along with the “impossible” and “heelflip” Rodney is now known as the “godfather of skateboarding tricks”.

The 900 – Tony Hawk

For nearly 15 years, it was thought physically impossible to be able to rotate 2.5 times coming off a half-pipe on a skateboard. The primary reason being that the landing is BLIND, meaning the skateboarder cannot identify their landing point with their lead foot because they are facing in the opposite direction of rotation.

This article is an off-shoot of Coach Jay’s “Most Difficult Sport” conversation, in which part 4 he will review Action Sports including skateboarding.

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