Take Off in Tricks: Foundational Principles

    One of the most important parts of any trick which determines the speed, height, efficiency, and ease of expandability of any trick is the takeoff. I define the takeoff as whatever is involved in launching into the move, the motion(s) that make you leave the ground and enter into the trick, the technique that goes along with jump.
    Of great importance in line with the setup. This is whatever gets you in position to do the takeoff, the way you literally set yourself up to execute the trick. There are many different types of setups for many different tricks. In this article, I'll mostly be using the term setup to denote the general preparation for whatever takeoff into whatever trick, the the part preparation for the takeoff that is of consequence.
    Now we have those two important parts of almost all tricks right? So how can we understand them enough to make efficent and practical use of them in our tricks? Well, hopefully this article will help you do just so. There are many common principles which apply to the setups and takeoffs, the digs and jumps, of most tricks. When there's exceptions to the principle, they will be detailed as well. These are not difficult concepts.
    One trap to avoid falling into is that there is some sort of secret technique for tricks, or that you need to have a specifically detailed guide to be able to fix a problem in a trick. Don't fall into the misconception that there is some secret storehouse of Tricking knowledge somewhere that can magically teach you to do things you had so much trouble with before. All these tricks and skills are just based off logic, solid logical principles. Many people, including myself at first, start thinking of tricks as special motions, with their own set of physics and rules. It's not like that, obvious logical principles, things and motions that just make sense when you think about it, can be applied to tricks.
    To that end, it's best to avoid gimmicky tutorials, or generally advice that doesn't seem that logical. Many times people may say "oh just do this and you'll get this result." First, think of why doing that would cause that result. If no logical answer can be derived from it, you may want to think twice before thinking it the truth. Remember though, there's many ways to go about tricks, even if these different methods work around the same principles.

    So, let us begin.

Setting Up: Dig
Basically: The dig, the dip, the coil, the bend: all basically the same thing, although sometimes the wording can be applied better to the motions of certain tricks. This is effectively lowering the body down by however much, not too much, by bending the legs at the knee (extension of the quads), and usually extension of the glutes, as well as extension of the calves. This puts one into a position where they can then take their leg(s) and jump the heck off of them by using the power generated by contracting or flexion of the extended muscles.

Exceptions:
    Roundoff Tricks: This applies mostly to tumbling passes, where you use a roundoff (or a back handspring) for momentum and then launch yourself into an air, doing a Back Flip or Full or Flash or whatever ever the heck else. Do you want to dig down before jumping into these moves? Not really. You gain momentum needed for height in these tumbling combinations by blocking out of the roundoff, as opposed to from the power generated from your major leg muscles. Of course, you're still going to need some power generated from things like your calves to direct you up, but you do not by any means try to bend yourself towards the ground coming out of a roundoff or back handspring if you plan to launch up into a trick. If your legs happen to be just sliiightly bent when you come out of the roundoff, that's fine if you can still direct the energy upwards. But you don't want to try to coil towards the ground, as you would for a regular jump or whatever.
    Gainer Tricks (some): For most running tricks that involve swinging up and jumping off one leg, which I will now refer to as "Gainer tricks" (Gainers, Corkscrews, whatever variations and whatever else), you rely somewhat on blocking to help your momentum flow upwards. Swinging your leg upwards also creates some nice upwards force, as well as lessens the weight your jump must carry into the air. Your leg muscles still have to direct the energy for the jump upwards though. However, when running or jogging with a lot of momentum into a gainer trick, one should be focused on getting their jumping leg out further, instead of getting their body lower. I was gonna go into a lot of theory explaining why you don't need to worry about digging and bending down in Gainer tricks like most other tricks, but then I realize it doesn't matter, because the natural of running/jogging Gainer setups all accomplish the dig for you without having to think about it, so there's no need to worry.
    What about Gainer tricks from a stand, or only one step and a pivot, or gainer tricks that I'm swinging into from another move, or whatever likeness? Basically, Gainer tricks that don't have much horizontal momentum at all? In that case, you still want your leg to bend somewhat to be able to do this (observe people good at these moves to see the degree they do it to). Most people don't have a problem with this either do to the nature of the setup, so don't worry about digging down much for this, either.

Details: So why is this important? Quite simply cause, it's impossible to jump off a straight leg. Really, get up and try jumping as high as you can. But do this with your legs entirely straight. Even if you use only your calves to jump, you are going to be going almost nowhere. In cases where you have no momentum to block, you must always rely on the power of the muscles in your legs to jump.
    They create this power by contracting rapidly. How can they contract if they're not extended? Ahh, they can't! That's why we bend at the knee for vertical jumps, and most tricks. Also, our thighs usually get shifted forward somewhere during any dig, so we can use power in our glutes too. All of this, combined with the direction of the calf muscle, give us a vertical jump! I'm being very basic, there's a lot more theory to this by vertical jump experts and crap, but forget that haha.
    Above you can see many different digs, used for many different tricks, by many different trickers. The first three are my own examples, and the practioners to follow are Crazy Asian, Mogwai, Ott, Anis, and Gary Ip.
    So you see, a form of dig is required for the greater majority of tricks. You need to have your leg(s) bent to be able to jump off of. Got it? Sweet!
    One problem that comes about sometimes: bending the leg, then extending before it touches the ground. This is one digging problem many newbies have. Either they don't bend their leg much at all, or they bend it a lot, by picking it up bent into the air, and then they put their foot back on the ground. This is rather redundant. This is one greater scheme of mistakes that people do, by copying what someone looks like, instead of copying what they're doing. But that's another subject. Anyways, you don't want to bend your leg, then extend it again to have it touch the ground. You want to have your leg bent, and you want it to still be bent when your foot(feet) is(are) on the ground again.
    This means that as you bend down, you want to do just that: go down. You want your entire anatomy to drop a few inches. As you do this, your legs (or just leg, if it's a trick which jumps off one leg) bend, and you basically coil down, similiar to a spring or a slinky (hehe), ready to extend back up. Let's look at two examples.
    HAHAH! YES JUJI! THAT IS YOUR VIDEO WHICH I DECIDED TO USE FOR THIS PICTURE! MWAHAHA!
    At any rate, do you notice how in both examples above, during the setup we get lowered down as we bend, just like a spring coils down, and that allows us to push back UP into a jump. Beautifuly eh?
    However, be careful. You don't want to think that simply by lowering your head or upper body, that you're somehow going to be able to jump. You don't want to just dip your upper body down and expect to be able to jump out of that. Sometimes people may feel like they're dipping just because their head is lowered, even if their legs are hardly bent.
    This is best illustrated by the example of these two exersices: Squats, and Good-Mornings. In both of these, your head gets lowered down in the descent portion of the exercise, however, in only the Squats do the legs get bent. (Squats are also quite similar to the form a regular jump, think of getting your body to mimic the squats coiled position [not bent quite as much though] in the setup of a jump, though the position will be modified for different setups of different tricks.) So, lower yourself by bending down, only then will you be able to jump back up.
    However, do not neglect the fact that in some trick setups that you're going to have to both bend your legs down, as well as lean your upper body out like in the Good Morning example, things like Aerial variations and Butterfly Twist variations are like this, as well as highly inverted Raizes. But usually in tricks in which going up is the emphasis, you're going to not want to lean your upper body out as much (leaning your upper body outwards [and downwards subsequently] is equivalent to dipping your upper body down.) Use discernment to decide when it applies.
    Random notice: Usually when one lowers their upper body down while digging, the dig/bend/all that is then refered to as a dip usually. While dig and dip and all that basically mean the same thing, the nomenclature that seems to have developed is that dipping the upper body down, or leaning it out, is called dipping, while keeping the body more uprightish while bending down is commonly termed digging. You'll see me use them interchangeably sometimes.

    Now the question is, how much should I bend/dig/dip and all that? Not too much actually. Bending a whole lot, especially past a 90 degree angle, is actually going to give you less power suprisingly. You might think it'd be the opposite, huh? But it's not! Obviously if your legs are too straight, you can't jump at all, or you can do a very minimal jump if they're just slightly bent. But if you bend them too much, sure you can jump, but not with as much power, so it's not as high. To be honest, just quickly bending down a bit is sufficient. I'll go into more detail into a related concept in the next heading, however for now let's look at someone like Frank Yang. This beasty man has a 40 inch vertical, from standing. Let's observe how much he digs for his jump:
    AHHH IT'S CRAZY! What a huge vertical. Now in most tricks, we don't even want to travel upwards nearly as high as Yang is there, however the power from the jump is very useful to us. So we gain maximum power. So, how much should we bend as part of gaining this power? Check out Frank there, he doesn't bend much more than most of the examples I used in the first image (the one with all the trick setups and colorful lightsaber arrows) of this article. See? You don't need a huge massive dig to jump high. Although, Frank Yang has had years of training the power and strength of his jump. So remember: this is about technique, not about strength. Through technique, you can utilize as much power as you have at your disposal. It probably isn't as much as Frank Yang, but it will be enough to boost you into the air as much as you need for many tricks to come!

Setting Up and Taking Off: Dig Fast, Jump Faster
Basically: This is one little trick that I first picked up in Jujimufu's article Universal Tricking Tactics. He talks about jumping FAST for added height and more importantly power in one's tricks. I'm going to take it a step further and tell you to do this with your dig (focusing on the bending of the legs in this case really) as well when you bend your legs. Why? Let's explore the reasons for both.

Exceptions: When it comes to digging fast, obviously the exceptions would be the same exceptions for the heading above. If you shouldn't try to dig for a move at all, why would you dig for it fast. Even if you're doing a trick where you shouldn't try to dig much at all, you should always try to make your setups fast. However, do not make them fast before you are extremely comfortable for them. First, concentrate on being able to do them consistently, then focus on speed. Technique always comes before power.
    Also, there are some tricks in which the setups make it just plain hard to dig fast. If you find it strenuous or impratical to do the dipping/digging part of the setup fast, don't worry about it too much.
    Regardless of whehter you're doing a move without a distinct dig, or if you're not digging that fast, JUMPING fast (taking off into the move fast in general, but especially with emphasis on jumping off the planted leg(s)) is applicable in almost anyyyy situation. So try that with any trick!

Dig Fast: First of all, let me tell you that bending down pretty fast for the jump (in whatever fashion that suits the setup for the trick you're doing) is useless unless you also jump fast as well, so my reason for digging fast applies if you're taking the advice to jump fast.
    Anyways, this is one little thing that a respectable man named Munks from TricksTutorials helped me understand. Thanks Munks! At any rate, what's the point of digging fast? Well other than just getting the whole "gotta work fast" mindset in your head, it gives a true physical benefit. That is, taking advantage of the stretch reflex.
    What is this stretch reflex? Well there's a whole lot of theory and reserach behind it, none of which I care to explain or which is necessay haha. But basically here's what happens: When you bend down in hmm, let's just use the vertical jump example in this case. But anyways, when you bend down for this jump, you're stretching some of your muscles out huh? Your calf stretches out as your knee comes down forwards a bit, your quads stretch out as you bend at the knee, and your glutes stretch out as your thigh pivots forwards (making the angle between your thighs and your stomach less, is what I mean). Now what the stretch reflex is, is the fact that when you stretch out a muscle, especially rapidly, the muscle automatically contracts as a reflex to prevent tearing and whatever other damage can come of stretching a muscle too fast. And guess what? All those muscles that you stretched out during the dig/dip/how-many-times-am-i-gonna-list-all-the-terms are some of the major the muscles you use to jump too! Good deal!
    So when you bend down fast, the stretch reflex is acting on those muscles, creating a quick firm tension within them. Awesome! This contraction will provide a lot of force that we can put into the jump when we jump fast. However, this tension from the stretch reflex will go away after not too long. This is why I'm telling you to dig fast, and jump fast. You build a lot of tension thanks to the stretch reflex by bending down fast, but to keep that tension and be able to do anything with it, you're going to have to launch yourself up by jumping fast immediately digging.
    Now, not all tricks are like vertical jumps. In fact, many of them involve jumping off of one leg. So it's easy to say "oh go bend down fast when you do a vertical jump", but not as easy when you're going an actual trick huh? Well it's not that hard. Hopefully this tip will encourage you to speed up your setups, but remember the main part which relies as speed is when it comes to the dig. For example, the Butterfly Kick/Twist setup is a big huge looking setup, but the only part you're really going to have to try to speed up is when you're bending your leg down, ok?
    Remember, as said in exceptions, there are some cases in which digging extremely fast just isn't as easy, or isn't as possible. In those cases, don't worry about trying to dig as fast. Just don't do it too slow, and then, try to concentrate on jumping fast, which you can do in almost any trick.

Jump Fast: Just jump fast haha, it's so smart. Why? Because in Tricking power comes from speed. In fact, by many definitions power basically has to do with how fast you can do something with a certain force. So jump FAST FAST FAST. Do not try to "force" your jumps. Do not try to force them and muscle the jumps and push through the ground with as much strength as possible. Don't do it strong, do it fast. By doing it fast, the jump will be much stronger, that is to say much more powerful, than if you try to put as much muscle into it as you can. Remember: strength is resistance, power is speed. (Don't get technical with the definitions haha, you know what I mean.)
    Keep in mind (this applies to the last tip about digging fast too): this isn't a video game. You can't just muscle a jump with all your force and expect to go high. Also, you can't bend down, and then bend down hecka low and just sit there trying to charge up your jump or some crap. Haha. In fact, it's the exact opposite of a video game. Instead of trying to bend down haaard and chaaaarge up a jump them muuuuuscle the jump out, you do everything as fast as possible, and the results are much better. Hurray! Man I'm typing so much, I'm just going to get ahead on to the next point now.

Taking Off: Set
Basically: Probably one of the most important concepts in this article, other than to dig. It's to set! What does set mean to the average man? Hmm, there's a few ways to explain it. You could just say it's jumping. It's the motion you do to get into the air. You power your leg muscles and extend them rapidly into the ground to make yourself leave the ground.
More than this though, a set involves the motions you do to get into a position to execute whatever part of the trick is done in the air. I'll talk more about that in just a minute...keep in mind, you need to be able to jump to use the principle of setting. This means you better have a bent leg to jump off of, or be blocking momentum...

Exceptions: Hmm, almost none. The only moves that you hardly set are things like Front Handspring and Back Handspring, moves in which you intentionally put your hands on the ground, and are trying to go low.

Details: Back to what I was saying before, setting involves jumping obviously coupled with the motions needed for the execution of a trick after takeoff. In some cases, like a Raiz, Aerial, or Webster, the set may make the entire move, and after that you just guide yourself to the landing. But anyways, setting is extremely important. Remember: tricks do not follow some sort of special laws of physics. They are just bodily motions. To that end, do you think you can stay in the air much if you don't fully jump off the ground. In the case of say, a 540, you jump off one leg: the same leg you kick with, correct?
    Now, thinking logically about this, what would happen if you tried to kick your leg into the air before you have finished fully extending the jump off the ground? Think about it......got an answer? Yes, you won't jump! You simply won't go up, you will stay in the same place. This means, instead of jumping and kicking off the ground, you're only kicking off the ground. This means you have no upwards velocity, which means you are only going to fall, meaning you won't be able to complete the trick properly. Tricks depend on setting.
    Also, by kicking before you have completed the jump, it is going to be very strainful because your other leg is no longer on the ground, meaning you have nothing keeping you stable, and nothing to keep you up as you try to kick up. This means you're trying to kick with a force pulling down on yourself.
    So remember, JUMP JUMP JUMP (fast, hehe). Set that mess up! Do not begin kicking, twisting, or flipping before your legs have completed the entire motion of the jump, and your feet have just left the ground. If you feet are still planted on the ground when you begin executing steps that are supposed to come after the step, you will fall, and die. This is another reason why jumping fast is good. Focus. Do not do anything until you have left the ground, only the motions required for setting the trick you need to perform.
I also said that more motion are involved in setting (taking off, basically) for different tricks. Some examples:
  • 540: Jump up off one leg, while lifting the non-kicking leg up and out, and turning the body and head towards the target, while swinging the arms towards the target.
    • After the set: You see, after you've set yourself up like this, all you do is throw your kick out and across, and then land, and such. Keep in mind your set may very depending on if you're throwing a crescent or a round, or whatever in between.
  • Butterfly Twist: Jump off one leg, swing back leg behind you, lift body up, prep arms for a regular twist.
    • After the set: Now after you've set this up and your foot isn't planted on the ground, you can just wrap into the twist! There are many different ways that people set their B-Twists, but you must set it regardless!
  • Cheat 720: Jump off one leg, lift non-kicking leg up, turn whole body towards target, swing arms around while still remaining somewhat open, pulling past the target as you jump.
    • After the set: The takeoff/set of a Cheat 720 gets you in a position to execute the technique, as well as generates lot's of flatspin (the spin you have coming off the ground), which helps out Cheat 720's a lot. So now that you're in the air, wrap into the twist, hard, then finisht he technique.
  • Pop 720/900/Any Spin: Jump off two legs fast, turn body and visionary focus in the direction of the target, pull arms around fast and open towards and past the target quickly.
    • After the set: Like the Cheat 720, the takeoff for Pop tricks generates lots of flat spin, the more the better. After you've set the trick, wrap and spin HARD baby.
  • Back Flip: Jump off two legs fast, swing arms up fast, tilt body back slightly.
    • After the set: A common newbie problem is not to set a Back Flip all the way up. If you set it all the way, and emphasize a powerful jump during the set, you will be able to do a powerful tuck, and not have to worry about falling as you flip backwards.
  • Roundoff Back Flip: Push momentum back into the ground, focus the jump energy straight up.
    • After the set: A set out of a roundoff (or back handspring) move provides lots of power, thanks to blocking. So just direct all that energy upwards, pretend that in the block, you are jumping straight up like you would for a regular Back Flip. So after you've left the ground, just like any other trick, finish the execution: do the tuck!
  • Cheat 720 Twist: Jump off one leg, tilt outwards, pull leading leg/knee upwards hard, jump upwards, turn towards the rotational direction hard and fast, pull arms towards rotational direction forcefully, while still leaving them open.
    • After the set: Just wrap into the spin. The Cheat 720 Twist is one of the moves in which people set the least, which is why many people need help with them. It's very habitual to start twisting before one has even jumped off the ground. No, SET the entire thing way up into the sky, and give yourself lots of flatspin by yanking in the direction you're going to spin. After you've jumped, and you have all that lovely flat spin, you can simply wrap into the spin like any other spin, and then bam, easy. It's really not that hard.
    Those are a few examples, I probably should have included one's dealing with Gainers or Corks, but you hopefully get the idea by now. SET, EVERYTHING. Do not start the execution of a trick before you set/takeoff/JUMP. Ok, the set is actually a part of the execution of a trick, but you know what I mean: don't execute the components of a trick which come after the set with an incomplete set. The set gets you in the air, it keeps you from falling as you try to do a trick. Use it.

Misconceptions: Stall a lot? Does this give me more height? No! Stalling does nothing for you. The only purpose for stalling whatsoever is aesthetic purposes. Maybe you wanna do a really stalled Back Flip, or a stalled Full Twist, or a stalled B-Twist. Those look cool, but stalling does not aid the technical value of any trick, when it comes to stalling right after the set. Some people say stall until you reach the peak of your jump, well that's true if you interpret it correctly. You don't want to wait until you're up in the air at the peak of your jump before you start falling, that fails. You want to stall until your jump is peaked in that you want to wait to start the further execution of the trick until you have peaked the jumping action, and you've subsequently finished the jumping motion, and you're in the air: which is basically the set, I've already described it. This goes into the next misconception...
    Does what I do after the set effect my height? Not a chance. This isn't a video game, you can't double jump. Tucking doesn't boost you up, kicking doesn't boost you up, nothing does. It's impossible for you to generate enough force to conteract gravity to that degree while in the air. So the only thing that gives you height, or a lack thereof, is the set. If you set powerfully and quickly, fully extending your jump, then say hello height. If you cut your set short and start trying to do the rest of the trick before you've left the ground, you're going to fall.
    When you jump, you are exerting a certain upwards force on yourself. This is because you're putting force into the ground, this directs you upwards. When you jump into the air, you have a set velocity, which starts decreasing thanks to gravity, until you return to Earth. Nothing you do while you're in the air is going to effect your velocity or acceleration back towards the ground. Sure, there's stuff like air resistance based on different positions, but that's absolutely negligible in this case.
    Remember, in some cases, you don't really want that much height. Like say, if you want to do a good swing out of a Corkscrew or Butterfly Twist. Does this mean you should under-commit the jumping power for tricks in tricks? Not at all. You just want to channel your jump into the spin (because most any trick you're going to want to keep low has a spin or a turn in one form or another), isntead of into the height.
    Also, what you do with the rest of your body may effect the height you get out of the set. Like, when you jump up and arch into a Flash Kick, the arching motion basically sets you up so your head will stay in that same position throughout the duration of the move, if you have good technique anyways. So in this case, the higher you position the head during the set, the higher the Flash Kick. But in a regular Back Flip, where you keep your back relatively straight and head forward, you can pump your head and subsequently the rest of your body up with a simple jump. It's more like a vertical jump with the Back Flip, where you jump up and flip, as opposed to the Flash Kick, where you jump up and set into the arch. It's sorta hard to explain, so hopefully you've already grasped this concept.
    Is stalling every advisable? Other than in the showy cases I described before, when you're doing it just for style/looks, only if you're not setting enough. If you just aren't finishing your jump, and you're not setting, then yes, stall the heck out of it. By telling yourself to stall, you're going to force yourself to finish the set. After you get used to that, just try not stalling as much, while maintaining the set. In fact...
    So, how much time should there be between me setting my trick and me continuing the execution of the trick? Unless you're trying to create a certain look, it should be almost instantaneous, almost seamless. You want to go immediately from set to finishing the execution. The sooner you do it, the more power you'll have for the trick. Finishing the execution sooner will not make it worse, in fact it will probably make it better, but only if you've completed the motions for the set, and your foot(feet) are no longer planted on the ground. Set that shizzle up, then power on with the rest of the move. This takes practice, so just practice doing it, haha.
Setting: It's important. Use it well. Just jump dang it! JUMP! Moving on.

Setting Up and Taking Off: Bodily Position for Different Results
Basically: During the set/takeoff which I just went on and on about, you can position your body in various ways. After all, there are many different types of tricks! This means we're going to have many takeoffs. And for each trick, different takeoff modifications can reap different results.

Exceptions: None really, this is a case by case basis.

Details: A good example to use for this is the Raiz. Some people like higher floatier Raizes for some things, some like lower quicker Raizes for others. How do we differntiate between the two when it comes to execution?
    We set up our bodies in different ways, and do different things when we take off. In a lower Raizes, you obviously want to keep your upper body lower during the setup, and leave it down during the takeoff. In higher floating Raizes, you want to keep your upper body and head up during the setup, and then focus on jumping up, keeping your chest head and back elevated, while doing the same technique. In this case, the way you position your upper body seperates the two.
    If I want to do a low Raiz, I dip my upper body down towards my leg during the setup, tucking my chin down during the setup, then just do the takeoff and all that. If I want to float, I focus on keeping my chest up, my chin up, keeping my head at a higher level, then doing the takeoff and all that with emphasis on everything going up.
    What about trying to force our bodies into a certain position during the takeoff? If we wanna invert the Raiz, do we throw our bodies at the ground as we jump? In a Back Flip, do we start throwing ourselves back as we jump? No, you do not want to throw yourself, or any part of yourself down towards the ground as you're doing the jump/takeoff/set. The exception for this is tricks in which you are intentionally trying to touch something like your hand or head to the ground, IE Touchdown Raiz.
    Anyways, think about that. If you're throwing a part of your body down as you're leaving the ground, where the heck is it going to go? It's going to be driven straight into the ground, haha. That's what happens to many newbies learning Aerials. They run up and takeoff and all that, but as they do that, they throw themselves at the ground. They think that by throwing their head and chest towards the ground, that it's going to magically flip them around. This is another case of imitating what others look like, instead of imitating what they're actually doing.
    In reality, you want to dip down before you jump. Any time you do a takeoff for any trick, don't throw anything at the ground, or else that's exactly where you're going.
    Now let's say, in the case of an Aerial or a heavily inverted (flipped) Raiz, you want to stay flipped, but you can't throw yourself at the ground, right? So how do we get inverted? By dipping before you jump. Simply, ahah. Just position your upper body down low before you jump, then when you jump just keep it there, it basically does it by yourself. But anytime you lean for the ground during your takeoff, you're going to be throwing yourself at the ground. Lower yourself towards the ground before you jump, then do whatever. Good deal!
    How else does this effect us? I talk up this in my article entitled "Using Proper Foot Positioning to Your Advantage." Let's steal that diagram:
    Eww, non-lightsaber arrows. Anyways, the angle between your hip and your foot makes a big difference. This is because, since your leg(s) are accountable for almost all of your jumping force, the angle at which your leg extends into the ground is the angle at which your momentum is going to be pushed. In most cases, we want to push it directly up, as shown on the right. If you find yourself traveling too much, or in the wrong direction, take note of the direction your leg is facing during your takeoff.
    In some cases, though, we may want to travel. This is useful for certain things like Raizes or Touchdown Raizes, where you want lots of horizontal momentum to shift into a swing through. In those cases, you may want to try to push yourself away from your foot as you jump, so the angle of your jumping power is shifting more outwards and less upwards.
    To effect either of these, just take note of the way your jump foot(feet) is(are) planted in the ground, and where. If you want to have your jump go straight up, you can try bringing your foot (in the case of a move which jumps off one foot) more towards a vertical line under your hips/body, or you can focus on bringing your hips/body in a vertical line over your foot, your choice. Hurray! You may not even have to worry about this, many people don't, but if you've had trouble with this, try it out.

Setting Up and Taking Off: Visualization
Details: Sometimes you just gotta think something in your head and make it work. Visualization! You need to visualize the way your body is doing something, that can make a suprisingly different. Sometiems this is only applicable in cases where you're used to a move and want to improve it, and sometimes visualizing something a certain way may help you land a trick in the first place.
    One thing I like to do is visualize myself jumping straight up. As I jump, I imagine a vertical line between my foot and my hip, and I try to focus my jumping energy along that line, going straight up. I try to emphasize the jump going straight up. And yeno what? It works! Sometimes you need to stop thinking "ok I should do this with my arms and legs and turn like this and that and crap" and all that and just tell yourself "DO IT LIKE THIS." Committing the mental process of doing something can have a suprisingly big impact. You may think of doing a motion in an entirely different way than you have been, and it can make a huge difference. And yeno what? Sometimes you may compare it side by side on film with something you've done before, and it can look exactly the same in terms of motions, but still somehow be better. Funny how that works, huh?
    It can help sometimes, after you've gotten used to a move, to just tell yourself "DO IT GOOD." It may not even look different, but what's important is how it feels. It may look the same as all your other cracks at the move, but it may feel much better. Awesome! Visualize things simply in your head. A Butterfly Twist? It's just a regular vertical spin while your body is horizontal, stop trying to treat it like a magical horizontal spin. See, visualize yourself doing a regular vertical spin like you would on the ground while doing a Butterfly Twist. It may not even look differnet, but it might feel much better. Sweet!
    "Think of this like this," that can always help. It usually works differently for different people. Some people think of a Cheat 720 Twist as a horizontal C9 without a kick (which it basically is, in essence), and that may work for them and help them land it. With some people that approach may not work. Maybe they just have to visualize it as it's own technique, unrelated to all others. Just remember, if you're having trouble with a move, you can't go around hucking the same thing over and over and expecting results. You need to make changes, especially changes to the way you're approaching it in you mind. Of course, pay attention to technique, and pay close attention to some of the other principles I've mentioned in this article.
    The mind is a powerful tool, it has control over all your voluntary muscles. So use that control, tell yourself to do it right. This, going hand in hand with knowing proper technique, knowing just what to do, and making an effort to do it, can benefit you greatly. Hopefully.

In Conclusion
    Good lord this is probably the longest article I've ever written. I'm so tired of typing that I'm not even going to try to think of a clever conclusion. But hey: the stuff in this article is good stuff. No gimmicks, no hearsay, just stuff that has been tried and tested and proven to work. If you think about these, they're all very logical. "Oh, bend down in order to jump up? Duh!" "Don't try kicking and twisting before I've finished jumping off the ground, why didn't I think of that before?" Blah blah blah, etc etc etc.
    Test this knowledge out for yourself of course, try to prove it to yourself. Think logically and critically about these things. Yeno what though? The thing that makes or breaks most tricks is all what you do with the setup and the takeoff, and how you think about it in your mind. This is what I've tried to cover in this article. And if you can master these principles, you won't have many problems learning to do tricks for yourself. Writing specific trick tutorials becomes somewhat vein after a while, because the biggest part of most tricking techniques are some of these principles: Dig > Set > Finish. You just do them in different ways for different tricks, but doing these steps efficiently is what leads to doing tricks efficiently. If you understand these, you won't have to force tricks, you won't have to worry if there's some "secret" to performing whatever trick. Most Tricking "secrets" are just based off logical conclusion formed by analysis of tricking techniques, it's just that people fall under the misconception of thinking that tricks are special moves that require a very specific unique technique for each one.
    But they don't, just about every trick shares common threads with all other tricks. I've discussed some of the most important of these threads in this article, so I hope you picked up a thing or too. This may help advanced users boost their tricks efficiency, and this may help newbies figure out how they can use basic principles to get all their basic tricks down. I may modify this article in the future with clarifications and more information and all that if need be, but for now, here it is. Huge props if you actually read all this stuff, ahaha.
Also, I just realized that my main thesis of this article had to due primarily with the takeoff itself. I guess I expanded on that a bit, but oh well! YAY!