Building Tricks - Step by Step

    Tricks are all techniques. All of these techniques are simply a sequence of steps, whether they look like it or not. Just as a tricking combo is a sequence of coherent tricks put together (each trick could be thought of as a step, relative to the combo), each tricking technique is a series of motions done in a certain way at a certain time to create the final product. There are definite technical principles behind tricking, and we do them all the time, even if we don't think we are...or even if we think we're not!
    The general concepts of foundational steps of execution are the same across almost all trick techniques. Neat! Some people don't realize this, and they turn certain tricks into being a lot harder than they need to be. Especially when they can do one certain trick pretty well, but aren't good at doing another significantly different one, when in fact they could be applying the same basic principles to both and achieving great results for both.
    Thesis: this article will describe a few main concepts steps present in the majority of tricking techniques, and detail more specific aspects of them and how these are put together sequentially to form an entire trick. It will discuss how certain principles can be applied globally or specifically, and try to make practical application of all.
Who This Article is Meant For
    This article gets a little more into certain aspects of the science of tricking. Therefore, ones just entering tricking may not want to try to apply all the tips found herein. You should already have your feet wet in tricking. A knowledge of basic techniques from each genre (kick, flip, twist) and the ability to do something from each one is what you need to take anything significant away from this article. Subsequently, this article will be of most benefit to upper novice trickers to even advanced trickers, with the most benefit probably being to intermediate trickers. Although, ones who may not be in that demographic are still encouraged to try to glean a little knowledge here or there from this article.
    Still, for beginning trickers, it is infinitely more essential just to be out trying tricks, and getting a feel for them. That way your mind and body will be able to relate what you're already doing to what you're going to read here, and if you don't have anything to relate to it, then you're not going to get much out of it. For beginners, it's much more important to be getting the ideas behind the specific basic tricks they practice before trying to learn how to apply global principles. Also, this article isn't the end all to tricking. Why? This ties into my next point...
Supplementary Knowledge
    The knowledge in this article is stuff I've meditated on quite a bit, so you can trust it. However, it's not the end all. People won't need this article to be good at tricking. I stand by everything I say in this article, however, think of all the completely awesome trickers who get amazing without the use of articles like this and tutorials and such. You see, they get good without knowing all this stuff. So this stuff is just knowledge to be used with what you're already feeling so to speak with your tricks. This is meant to supplement what you already know, not replace it. Lots of people don't progress like pro trickers though, so thankfully they have articles and such to read. :) Keep in mind though, this doesn't mean that every pro tricker knows the exact mechanics or "science" behind every technique they're doing, far from it in fact. So remember, you don't necessarily need a bunch of knowledge to be good at tricks. However, it will almost always help you, and some people may need it to improve faster. So just take what you need. Yay! Let's get started.
For some reason, people seem to be under the impression that style and technique in Tricking are two opposing forces which simply can't get along and agree...hmm where have a heard of a debate this stupid before...haha. Anyways, not by any means the case. First of all style is the, well, style of execution of the entire technique. It's the way it's done, with all the small variations or idiosyncrasies in one's performance of it. It doesn't by any means mean that style is a compromise of technique, or an excuse for bull. It's like walking. Every fairly normal-bodied person shares the basic technique walking. But, there's always the little differences or style factors that you can easily notice but not always put your finger on as to the exact technical reasons why it's that way haha. You can ask a group of people to do the exact same technique, and they can all do it quite right, but you can also bet that there's going to be a lot of small yet noticeable differences in how each one "looks". It's just the way someones body chemistry works, it's quite natural. If you just practice doing good tricking techniques, you're going to have a style whether you like it or not haha. Even if you're following a technique, your body has to do it some way, period! So, it's going to do it in whatever way your body decides for you to do it, even within the technical guidelines. Neat, huh? Some people are stuck with crappy looking styles because of this haha, but who cares! If it's a trick, and it's done right, it looks awesome no matter what!
Yeno what the moonwalk looks like, right? Can you do it. Doesn't matter, either way you'll get the illustration. Anyways, the moonwalk is one very smooth looking motion when done by someone who's good at it. It doesn't look like they're trying to do anything too specific, they're just, moonwalking!
    Now, what happens, if you can't moonwalk, if you go out onto your smoothest floor and say "ok self, I wanna try the moonwalk, let's do it!" You probably end up just walking backwards awkwardly haha. Why? Because the moonwalk is a series of steps! They're not trying to just do the "moonwalk," they're trying to do the sequence of steps which, when put together correctly, create the entire moonwalk technique! And only then are they doing it, woo!
    In fact, this is true of lots of popping moves. You can see pro pop-n-lockers doing all kinds of crazy looking things and waves throughout their body. Now what, you think they're actually waving parts of their body around? Haha no. It looks very fluid to the onlooker (which is one reason it's so great), but in the mind of the popper, they're doing a sequence of motions/techniques with their body, which all come together to make it look like they're doing whatever arm waves or body waves or whatever. Basically, what the dancer is feeling or actually doing is one thing, but what it looks like is another thing (the desired product). Interesting, huh?
    The same is true with tricks. Now, tricks are a little more straight forward than dance moves when it comes to what they look like being more similar to what they feel like haha, but one should still remember that tricks are all steps put together. Most people know this, even if they don't refer to this concept in that manner. You may do a Back Flip, but what are you really doing. You're digging, jumping, setting, tucking, holding, opening, and landing. When you're first learning these, those are the steps you do in your mind. But once you get used to them, you just tell yourself, "self, Back Flip", and bam there you go haha. Ok, I've sorta beat this concept to death.

Step 1: Setup

The Setup (Set Up) is the sequence of body motions does prior to the general takeoff of a trick, prior to the main execution, though the Setup is still a part of the entire execution of a technique. Can be stationary or moving, there are usually specific setups for particular families of tricks.
The purpose of a Setup in each trick is to get the body, and it's respective parts, into the position to actually begin the main execution of the technique. Many setups also build momentum in a certain direction or around a certain axis to help a specific part of the technique used in whatever specific trick. Remember, setups prepare us to be able to actually perform a technique, therefore, when it comes to improving the quality of one's specific tricks, one should observe the technique of the setup greatly, and make sure it's doing that: preparing one to perform the beginning of the execution (Takeoff) of a trick in the most effective way possible.
Principles in Practice
  • Dig

    Notice that the Center of Gravity remains vertically above where the generation of jumping force is going to come from. This is because we want to have the entire body elevated into the air with the force of the jump.
        The dig is a bending of the legs and lowering of the body in preparation to leave the ground upwards, or jump. A dig can take any form, so long as the above credentials are accomplished. Both legs can be "dug", or only one, depending on if the trick jumps off of one or two. The dig can come very naturally to many, but may not to some.
        Every single setup for every single trick out there accomplishes a dig, in one fashion or another. The only exception to this is the roundoff, which instead of using the dig and extend (jumping) technique, uses the blocking (momentum changing) technique. We won't deal with that much, since it's not too complex and it only applies to roundoff.
        In just about any trick, if someone's not going up, or they're just falling after they start the execution of the trick, one thing to check for is if there is actually any digging going on. This is actually a recurring problem for many newbies, who don't realizes that all tricks consist of basically a dig and a jump. Like a spring. Does the spring stand there straight, then just bounce up. No, it coils down, and then springs up. Your body is a coil, dig down before jumping up. For any trick in which you friggin leave the ground.
        Generally, the arms are swung or put in a position during the dig in which they can swing around and/or up during the takeoff. However, the most important concept to learn from this is this: whenever you do a jump, like a long jump, or a high jump, you bend down, then you takeoff. Tricks are no different. The only difference is, you bend down while doing whatever other motions of the setup. Note, the dig includes the lowering of the chest and leveling of the head and such, the body sorta folds, so that the center of gravity is still in a straight vertical line over the point on the ground we're going to jump off of.
  • Dip
        The dip is not a part of all tricks, and not required for all (many, actually). But it is a part of the setup technique for many tricks. Such as the Aerial.
        What does a dip do? It's not just the way the body bends while digging down for a jump. The dip involves actually dipping the upper body, head, and/or chest outwards (and subsequently, lower). What does this do? If the dip is done during the setup, and the body doesn't re-elevate back to a relatively upright position during the Takeoff, the trick will stay in about the same spot in the air during the Execution. This is good, for things like Aerials, low Raizes, and certain specific other tricks.
        You see, when you dig down but keep your body generally upright during this, your center of gravity remains in a straight vertical line from your feet on the ground (where the force of the jump is going to come from) up to the center of gravity. Which means when you jump, the jump will carry your entire body into the air. This is one reason while the dip should always be done during the Setup, and NEVER during the Takeoff. The only time you do it during the Takeoff is when you're actually trying to touch the ground with a hand or something.
        So if you lean down/out, your center of gravity moves out from under the force of your jump, which means basically your hips are going to go up, but your center of gravity is going to remain at generally the same height, while your hips move around your center of gravity.
        What do we learn from this? Well, if we have trouble going up one a move we want to, but still want to flip (Raiz is a perfect example), what should we do? Should we really dip out or down during the Setup? No, if you're trying to get your whole body to go upwards, try to keep your center of gravity (and everything above it) vertically over your feet(foot), where the force of your jump is going to flow up from. Ahh, but this also means that by dipping and tilting out our center of gravity out during certain tricks, we can make them more horizontal. Excellent!

    When the upper body dips during a Setup, the Center of Gravity is shifted outwards past the point where the force of the jump comes from. Therefore, the force of the jump doesn't push the COG directly upwards. Instead, almost all the force of the jump goes to pushing the lower body up, therefore, the trick is done at an almost neutral level, which should be the proper technique per whatever trick. This means dipping can be beneficial for certain techniques, but detrimental for others.
Main Setup Concepts
In some of the following steps, I'm going to be building lists of specific motion concepts used commonly in the respective components of the tricks. However, for the setups, instead of exact motions or whatever, I'm going to be building a list of specific setups used for most tricks. Each of these setups is a sequence of motions of course, and there can be little differences in them. However, as long as the setups accomplish the main principles above, we can just refer to them in our dealings with "building tricks" as their own indpendent setups. Note, some of these names are official, but some of them I just made up to try to describe some of the concepts. The made up one's will be in italics, do not take these as official nomenclature.
I implore you to specifically look into each of these setups independently and observe them. I've only given you little descriptions, well, basically to make listing them not useless. But also to point out some misconceptions or little known facts or whatever. Note: each of these setup can rely on the same foundational principles in a combo, but parts of them can change heavily. These are just to get a basic grasp of the single execution setups, and so we have a foundation to build tricks from later...
What about Hook kicks? Hook kicks are usually just precursors to a certain setup, or in the case of a Butterfly Setup, they simply replace one small aspect of the setup.

True or False: Since your Center of Gravity remains about at your navel, you should try to keep your navel vertically aligned with your jumping foot(feet).
+ Answer: ...False. The statement is flawed; your COG does not always remain at your navel. Your COG can in fact, shift outside your body, and your body will still rotate around it. Depending on the position of your body, it can even shift up high onto your chest (though you may be upside down), see the Aerial example above. Also, if you don't want your entire body to go up, but rather want to stay lower to the ground, you don't need to keep your COG vertically aligned over your jumping foot(feet) at all.
[Critical Thinking] True or False: When digging for any trick, the further you dig down, the more your have to extend your legs to jump, therefore, the more force you can generate upwards, subsequently resulting in more height.
+ Answer: ...False. Just because you're guiding your muscles through a fuller range of motion, does not mean you're generating more force. In fact, bending down too far means you need to expend extra energy to reach full extension upwards, making the jump less efficient, more strenuous, and less powerful. Also, it would not take advantage of the stretch reflex, something you may want to research a little...

Step 2: Takeoff

The Takeoff (Take Off) are the motions after the set up, almost always including a jump, initiating the Set into the trick, and setting one up into the air with momentum in certain directions and the body in a certain position, relative to the technique being performed. During the jump, the legs are fully extended, pushing the body off the ground.
The purpose of the Takeoff is to initiate the Execution of the technique and get ones body and it's limbs moving in a fashion which allows the body to perform the rest of the technique. Pretty straight forwards. The Takeoff causes the body to leave the ground too, which is essential for techniques to work properly. Often times, people will try to execute an entire trick with an incomplete Takeoff, without fully extending the leg(s) that they're jumping off of. This means that the motion of the jump is not completed, which means absolutely no part of the body goes upwards. However, the body needs to leave the ground because the force of the jump. If it leaves the ground by your body twisting or by the leg(s) simply being consciously lifted off the ground in whatever fashion, there is no upwards force. So if you're in the air with no velocity traveling upwards, what do you do? You FALL. So if the jump is not fully executed, you fall to the ground, making completing the trick almost impossible, and destroys the technique. Gravity is constantly pulling you down, even when you're standing. So if you leave the ground, but you're not going up, you just drop.
    However, if one properly completes the jumping motion, then they have upwards velocity. This means, you won't start falling until you've decelerated to a point where your velocity goes from up (away from the ground/Earth), to down (towards the ground). Basically, if you go up, it takes time to come down. And in this time, all tricking techniques are executed. Not to mention the fact that the upwards momentum helps drive lots of motions used a little later in the Execution of a technique.
Building off the Setup
Remember, the Setup which is performed before the Takeoff is a series of motions and getting your body into a position for the Takeoff. So lots of the ways you set your body up in the Setup need to now be complimented in the takeoff. Do you pull your arms back in the Setup? I guess it's time to swing them around for the Takeoff! Do you shift your weight onto one leg during the Setup so you can lift the other one up and jump off one foot? I guess it's time to swing that leg up! This is all rather self-explanatory, but I'm just emphasizing this. The way you Setup is all in preparation for the Takeoff.
Principles In Practice
There are few common motions that take place throughout the vast array of trick techniques we have during the Takeoff. It may not seem like it, but lots of seemingly unrelated techniques share some of the common motions in the setup.
Remember, steps in a Takeoff don't all have to happen simultaneously, though they all need to occur before the body leaves the ground (again, something you don't really have to think about).
  • Jump: Yes, the crucial jump that I've probably already mentioned about five million times in this article. JUMP! You do this in the Takeoff of virtually every single tricking technique.
    Keep in mind however, the pictures brought out in the above Setup section. Do you notice how the during the jump, and extension of the body, it keeps it's center basically in a straight vertical line from the feet up perpendicular to the ground? Straight up basically? That's what you want to try to do, focus the energy straight upwards, without tilting too much. And the jump should be fast, not muscled.
  • Leg Lifts
    • Back / Side Swing: This is the sort of lift of the leg in which the leg is swung backwards off the ground (or from an Axe/Carry-Thru, or Miss Leg). In certain tricks, the leg can bend when swinging up (Butterfly Twist, etc), however in most that involve a certain straight-legged aesthetic, it should remain as straight as possible. (Aerial, Raiz, Butterfly Kick)
    • Lateral Lift: This is when the leg is lifted up, but not with the intent of giving the body any "flipping" momentum. The leg can be straight or bent, and is lifted up and trails along as the body turns. Imagine the kind of leg lift in a 540, Cheat 720, Cheat 900, etc. Even though the leg is lifted to the front, it's lifted from the ground (or a Missleg, C/T, etc) instead of being swung forward to drive the body around a certain axis.
    • Forward Swings: This is the sort of lift of the leg in which the leg is swung from behind the body to in front of the body and up, such as one would kick a football or something. Of course, forward swings of the leg usually are to pull the hips upwards as the Takeoff moves into the Execution, so the leg is used to guide the hips and body, instead of just being kicked forwards independently. The main purpose of the forward swing is in fact, to get the connected hips to flip up. This is aided by swinging the leg straight, although swinging the leg bent can work as well if one still synchronizes their hip motions properly. One can also swing the leg straight up or slightly from side to side as it comes up. It's open to experimentation and to what the practitioner feels is most comfortable for them. Gainers, Corkscrews, etc.
  • Arm Swings
    • Swing Up: Pretty standard to good vertical jump for. The arms swing from the back/bottom all the way around and drive up. The arms should be relatively straight during the swing, and as they come to the end of the swing, as the body is just leaving the ground, they can bend if one so desires. Back Flips, Flash Kicks, Fulltwists.
    • Lateral Swing: Standard swing for any spin/twist that takes place around the vertical axis. The arms swing around sideways, along with the body, and pull the shoulders along with them. Note, this is still the takeoff, so the arms should not by any means wrap before we leave the ground. This is also a component of flat spin. 540s, Pop 720s, Cheat 900s, etc etc etc.

    Let's look at all these Takeoff concepts that are happening during this Raiz. Can you tell what they are by examining how the body has moved in between frames? Each body parts that's moved has been highlighted, and the color it's highlighted in corresponds to the color of the label of the particular concept, incase you need a pointer.
  • Flat Spin: (Pivoting) Flat spin is a vital element to almost any trick reliant on spinning. Many people may do this and be unaware. Flat spin is rotational momentum, or basically "spin", coming off of the ground. If ones body turns while on the ground, while jumping, the body will rotate a certain amount in the air based on the force of the spin on the ground. As long as the body is connected to the ground (with a foot) during the jump, any laterally spinning rotation done in the ground will still be present in the air. Flat spin is generally done by swinging the arms open (not wrapping in) while turning the head and generally turning the entire body sideways while on the ground, while jumping. If one tries to spin, twist, or wrap (all mean the same thing, and all should be done after the Takeoff in the Execution) too early, then the twist simply goes to the Flat spin. So the Flat spin is essential, but it should be done during the takeoff, and after the body has left the ground, then the actaul torquing twist should begin. A better Flat spin will still make the actual twist much more effective. Many tricks have flat spin, not all of them use it for rotation. 540s and Pop 360s have flat spin, but don't use it to spin before kicking. Cheat 720s, Pop 720s, and their advanced variations all use flat spin coming off the ground in combination with a spin done in the air. Even things like Raizes, Sideswipes, Butterfly Twists, and Corkscrews have flat spin, even though the body may be horizontal or inverted as the body is taking off, they still have rotation going around the same vertical axis.
    Although flat spin is a principle most used in lateral, or side to side, spins (Z Axis), it can still be present around the "flipping" axis (X Axis), and even the sideways axis (Y Axis), such as in Butterfly Kicks and Slant Gainers.
  • Arch: An Arch is only used in specific techniques where the aesthetic Arch is trying to be created, and when it helps the technique. This is done, not by leaning the back down, but by tilting the head back, shifting the visionary focus to behind oneself. Arching during the jump of a Takeoff (without the aid of a momentum building Roundoff) will have the same effect as dipping during the Setup. Ones head will generally stay in about the same spot throughout the duration of the technique, and the body is still able to land in a standing position if the jump was extended straight up while arching. However, if one wishes to have the entire body elevated up into the air, instead of seemingly rotating around the head, no arch should be performed (the arch is usually specific to certain techniques, but can still be done in others). Flash Kick, Whip Back, Gainer Flash, etc.
  • Spot: Simply enough, this is spotting the target to which one later kicks at during the setup. Sometimes, one can spot even when they're not kicking at the target immediately. Hmm, interesting!
  • Dip: Commonly Misapplied. The only time the upper body should dip towards the ground during the Takeoff (as opposed to before, during the setup) is when one is intentionally trying to get their head or hands closer to the ground, or touch the ground. Many think that dipping or swinging down during the Takeoff will flip them over, like when trying Front Flips or Aerials, but this isn't the case. Dipping towards the ground while jumping is the same as throwing oneself at the ground. Thus, it should only be done when trying to touch the ground. In all other cases, in tricks that even need a dip, the dip should always come distinguishably before the Takeoff, during the Setup. Examples of appropriate tricks to dip during the takeoff: Touchdown Raiz, Back Handspring, etc.

True or False: So long as one is experienced enough with a technique, swinging their arms (and one leg, depending on the trick) up will gain sufficient height, and jumping extension of the legs is not necessary.
+ Answer: ...False. Obviously haha. Swinging the arms and a leg up is irrelevant, the ONLY thing that gets your body to have momentum moving away from the ground is the jumping motion of whatever trick. A Challenger Appears! Haha. Well it seems the above statement by me was challenged by a few individuals. But it's quite true. Stand there, lock your knees, tighten your glutes, contract your calves, and madly swing your arms up to try to get yourself moving away from the ground. It doesn't work, does it? Maybe if you cheat a little you're getting an inch off the ground. But the thing is it doesn't work, it's not a part of proper technique. I'm teaching principles to use in good, working tricking technique. And the technical principle I just laid out is true. If you disagree that much, go out and have a tricking session, and do every single trick and combo with your legs, hips, and ankles locked the whole time. Have fun!
True or False: If there is no flat spin generated for a vertical spinning technique, the technique will simply not be able to be done properly, regardless of how forceful actually twist/wrap in the air is.
+ Answer: ...True. It may seem like it could be compensated with a very forceful and fast spin in the air, but it can't. Flat spinning (around the vertical spinning [Z] axis) is a part of proper technique for more than a few techniques. It's not only helpful, but it's necessary. And it's not really that hard of a concept, lots of people do it without even having the think about it.
[Critical Thinking] Observation: Jumps generally go as straight up as possibly, regardless of the technique, unless of course one is specifically trying to travel, or has a lot of momentum moving in one direction from a jog or run or whatever. To use the power of the jump to it's fullest potential, what is noteworthy about the position of the jumping foot(feet), hips, head, and Center of Gravity.
+ Answer: ...The closer the angle between the jumping foot and the hips (the more vertically aligned they are), the more the force of the Takeoff gets applied upwards, basically giving more fuel to the technique. In terms of utilizing the force of the jump, the COG position is actually somewhat irrelevant, ha! It's position only has special application in the cases (dipping) talked about before. As for the head, if it is neutral, the force up the jump should flow straight upwards. If the head is tilted back, creating an arch in the back, the jump will flow in the arch of the jump, in general. Interesting indeed.

Step 3: Execution

The Execution as I'm calling it is the motions your body performs while in the air, generally from the time your feet leave the ground until at least one of them comes down for the landing. You get the general idea. Of course, the entire trick from Setup to Landing is still technically executing an entire trick, but I'm using the term Execution to detail the technical in-air part of a trick, just because!
Hmm, what purpose could there possibly be? To BE FRIGGIN AWESOME! Ahah, the point of the Execution is to DO whatever the heck trick you want to do! In some cases, the Execution may be hardly anything, just a small extension off the Takeoff. In some cases, there may be a bunch of timing and technique involved. This is the most volatile and plain FUN part of the trick. Feel the rush!
    Keep in mind though, that a proper Setup, and much more importantly, a proper Takeoff are the most important parts of the entire trick technique. If these are done properly, and their respective aspects are not compromised, the rest of the technique within the Execution becomes much easier. So now, it comes down to how well you can actually do each part of whatever trick you're doing...heheh.
Principles In Practice
Now this is the fun part of the trick. What you do here is all completely dependent on the trick, though you can usually find some common threads between different tricks. But there are different amounts of timing, order of techniques...blah blah blah it's not nearly as cut and dry as the other parts. But, we can still derive a list of many different and common motions present in many different tricks after the body has left the ground. Let's go!
  • Kick: Ahh, this is a pretty common one! Kicks are always thrown in tricks. The kicks can come right after the jump, or they can come after a twist or a flip, or anything! Very versatile, and I'm not going to go over the variety of kick details and such, so I'll just say, you can kick! Ha! You can kick to the outside or the inside. Kicks are based on kicking techniques that are done on the ground. However, there's a few sub-concepts to be made aware of.
    • Chamber: A chamber precedes the majority of kicks, and if one can do the kicking technique on the ground well, sometimes happens "automatically" preceeding a kick. The chamber speeds up the kicking technique, and sometimes makes it so the technique is even possible. A chamber is a part of the kick, and flows right into the kick, however I'm bringing it out as it's own concept, just because we can break down the "Kick" concept even further in our definition.
      • Pump: Ho ho, thought we were done? Anyways, the Pump isn't used very often. Only in a few moves, but it's still there! Who knows, maybe you could try squeezing it into other techniques, just for the sake of fun! Anyways, the pump is chambering the non-kicking leg, bending the calf all the way in to the thigh, and usually "pumping" it towards the target. Watch good Cheat 720s, you get the idea.
  • Leg Tuck: Quite simply, this is chambering the non-kicking leg, pulling/tucking it back, for aesthetic and technical purposes. Is this important for you to know? You decide.
  • Swipe: A Swipe isn't a component of a kick as much as it's a sliiight variation. Perhaps it should be it's own concept instead of listed under the Kick, but it basically is a kick. The thing is that swipes are kicks, but don't follow any of the standard basic kick techniques. It's just swiping ones leg firmly and quickly at the ground. Fun stuff, a very natural motion.
  • Hyper: Dealing with Kicks, not Twists This is sort of like swiping a kick, only it's done with one of the basic MA kicks, not just with the swipe style kick. Hypering a kick is basically taking it through a full arch, instead of the kick just hitting the target and recoiling, the kick extends all the way past and through the target and is driven to the ground. Ahhh, such a simple description for something that just isn't always that easy. What could assist in hypering a difficult kick? Using the "Twist" principle as the kick peaks? Perhaps trying to make use of the "Switch" or "Swipe" principles? Tehehe, hypering is not quite that easy to just do all the time, which makes it just that much more fun!
  • Spot: This could also possibly be it's own concept, however I'm grouping it with the kick. Since spotting the target with your visionary focus (and therefore, establishing it's location in your mind and body) is very much a part of almost all trick kicking technique. Spotting involves just that, spotting where you want to kick, and usually ending a rotation if you've done one before the kick. Easy breezy!
  • Switch : Although this is very similar to a swipe as detailed above, I'm putting it as it's own concept, switching the legs is not done as a kick, even a swiping kick. It's just uhh, switching the legs! It's pretty easy to tell when someone is trying to swipe to create the aesthetic of a kick, and when it's just switching the legs to perform a certain technique. Nothing wrong with switching though, very useful! It's just switching the leg you land on in the air (note this happens during the Execution, not really a part of the landing itself, though it happens towards the end of the Execution of the technique, in general).
    • Step Out: Sometimes you do the leg switching motion with one leg...but it doesn't really switch past the other, and it isn't really a kick. So, here we have step out! Just taking whatever desired landing leg (usually the dominant one) and pulling it down straight as the technique moves into the landing. Simple.
  • Pike : (Double Legging) This could fall under the category of kicks, or it could be part of a flip. Or anything, so I'm going to list it as it's own concept. Typically, piking is bringing both legs together, with both legs straight. Often times they're brought at a 90 degree angle with the upper body, or something like that. An example of using this with kicking relations would be like the Double Leg it self or a Parafuso, or perhaps Corkscrew Doubleleg. Flipping would be stuff like the Back Pike and such. Piking the legs looks cool!
  • Twist: (Wrap, Spin, etc) Yet another common one! When we talk about twists we talk about spinning side to side, wrapping in and tightening for the spin, which rotates around the vertical (Z) axis. Fun stuff! A twist is usually done by wrapping the arms in, pulling the shoulders, hips, and turning the head in direction of desired rotation. Often times, it's done by just saying "self, TWIST HARD." But it's a technique that can be practiced on the ground to an extent, and by simply doing tricks like 720s and 900s (then 1080s, etc), which are (in my opinion) solid techniques for practicing twisting form. Even moreso than things which are labeled as "twists" instead of "kicks" such as Corkscrews and Butterfly Twists. Those are both twists yes, but often times people are focusing on various other aspects of the trick when doing those moves, whereas in Pop spinning tricks like the 720, it is a straight up vertical twist to practice. Don't fall under the illusion that 720s, 900s, and the likearen't twisting techniques.
        Why else can we say this? Well, something people also don't realize is that with things like Fulltwists, Butterfly Twists, Corks (any of those major twist techniques which are generally categorized as "Twists"), are still just vertical spins. Just like a 720. It just so happens, that they're vertically spinning while the body is horizontal or flipping. Ahh yes, it's all making sense huh? This is why some people may struggle with horizontal twisting moves or the like. Because they're NOT horizontal twisting. There is no horizontal twist technique, there is no flip twist technique. There is only the vertical twist technique, and this can be done while the body is horizontal or flipping. Interesting.
        What does this mean for us? It means we can quite effectively simplify the way a trick is done in our mind. Our method of visualization changes. Visualizing the execution of a technique in your mind simpler can be infinitely beneficial when it comes to making a trick work. What does this mean for us? We use the parts of the Setup and Takeoff (and sometimes, parts of the execution) that we described before to get us into whatever desired position (horizontal, flipping, etc), and then we simply add a spin to the equation. We just use our base spinning technique, no matter what position we're in. (Note, the spin should usually build off of a Flat Spin, which is detailed in the Takeoff section. The exceptions are delayed twists and such).
  • Flip: This is very general, haha. This is refering to the body actually flipping! Flipping around the X axis, backwards or forwards. Note, sometimes the body can be flipped (by which I mean, inverted, the head below the hips), without having to perform one of the flipping motions. (Example, Aerial, Raiz). This is because these are flipped by the motions of their Setups and Takeoffs, which put them in a inverted position. What we're going to talk about is techniques in which the performer consciously causes themselves to flip.
    • Tuck: A tuck can be, basically, forcefully curling up either forwards or backwards.
      It's important to note, that a tuck isn't just the legs bending up. While they should, the important motion, and the force that actually causes the flip, is the motion of either the hips and entire lower body (for backwards flips), or the motion of the hips and entire upper body (for forwards flips).
          For example, with the Back Tuck, the hips need to come up up up with the folding of the legs. This is done with the abdominal muscles, with ones core. And the core houses the center of rotation. So if you're just folding your leg up and bringing them up, that's not going to do a thing. The hips need to be curled upwards towards the upper body to initiate rotation. This is why people can flip without tucking, which I'll bring out now.
    • Whip: A probably need a better label for this. Anyways, this is just flipping without tucking. It's done by using the whole lower body or the whole upper body to initiate the rotation. I'm not going to describe it in too much detail, since it's often times something you just "do", usually after being able to do the flip tucked. This is used in things like Stretched Back Flips, Flash Kicks, Whip Backs, and Back Layouts. Or, and in Front Layouts and such, but nobody really does those much.
    • Arch: Ha! We can do this both in the Takeoff, and in the Execution! No explanation needed for what this does.
  • Stall : Commonly Misapplied. First, let's clarify something: stalling doesn't help tricks get higher. Setting does. What is setting? Your Takeoff, and what I detailed in it. Jumping, and leaving the ground in the position to Execute the trick. You should not stall in any trick where the technique of the trick itself does not falicitate a stall, or delay. The exception to this is one is trying to slightly variate the trick and "style" it, create a certain aesthetic look to it.
        So when do we properly use the stall? How about when delaying is a part of the trick? Haha. Snapuswipes, Flash Fulls, etc. Though in some of these there is still some other motion happening during the "stall", you're still delaying a certain aspect of the trick, like a twist.
These are not nearly the end all. These are just somewhat vague yet meaningful basic descriptions of some of the more common motions in tricking techniques. In many tricks there are very specific things you might need to feel and to think about. But, simplifying a technique into it's root concepts can very much simplify it's execution for you, and for it's advanced variations.
    And to be honest, these concepts aren't as important as the Takeoff concepts, and the Setup concepts (seeings as that's what the Takeoff builds off) haha. Those are the foundation of your trick, I'm just listing these out so we can, as I said before, simplify the steps of our trick, find similarities between tricking techniques, and then build the entire technical execution in our minds.

True or False: During the Execution, any time even an instant after your feet leave the ground, you can compliment the force of the jump with Tucking or Kicking motion to add a subtle boost onto your height.
+ Answer: ...False. On object in motion stays in motion, unless acted on by an outside force. The outside force to get us high into the air is the force of the legs pushing against the ground. Once the execution begins, the outside force acting on us is gravity. Is it possible for any Tuck or Kick or any motion in the air to generate enough force to oppose the gravity that is now pulling us down towards the earth? No. Therefore, stalling, tucking, kicking, and anything else will have no effect on your height after the jump. Only the force of the jump (and the technique of the Takeoff of course, but that's not the issue here) will determine how much height you get. This is good for us in that we don't have to worry about stalling or whatever bs to gain height, so we can begin Execution immediately after the jumping motion is complete and we've left the ground. This also means, no matter what we do in the air, it won't make us hit the ground faster. Yay!
[Critical Thinking] True or False: What would happen if we began the components of the Execution before the Takeoff was complete?
+ Answer: ...As I've stressed many times, and incomplete Takeoff means an incomplete jump, which means no upwards momentum. It usually also means momentum in other directions (flipping momentum, or flat spinning momentum) is also incomplete. This means two things for us: 1) If our body does leave the ground complete by twisting ourselves so our foot(feet) is(are) pulled off the ground, or if we kick our jumping foot up when the Takeoff isn't complete, the lack of upwards momentum means gravity will simply pull us back towards the ground. 2) The momentum of the jump causing us to leave the ground which allows us to perform motions in the air will be gone, therefore our ability to perform parts of the technique will be non-existent. Complete the Takeoff first, and complete it fast! Shazam!

Step 4: Landing

Yeno what guys, I'm not going to waste your time trying to make this utterly redundant part of the trick sound more complication than it is haha. You freaking HIT THE GROUND again, that's what the Landing is, baby.
The purpose is TO LAND. Additionally, the way you land can effect both your cool factor and combo ability. Let's say you want to Swing Through into another trick, or Carry Through into another trick, or Missleg into another trick, Wrap into another trick, stick the landing and do a Hook after, Pop out of it, etc. The way you land determines whether or not you'll be able to do all these things, and more! So the landing also, if we desire, is to get us into a position to do another specific technique.
Building off the Execution
The landing is usually directly related to the Execution of the technique, seeings as that's where all the motions of the Execution flow directly into the landing. So let's not overcomplicate this: the landing itself isn't that important. The Execution is where our Landing comes from in reality. And the quality of the Execution is partly dependent on the effectiveness of the Takeoff, which is itself put into play by the Setup. So you see? From beginning to end, the entire execution of the technique relies on it's previous steps. This tells us that we can A) Practice only the first however many steps of a technique to get a feel for doing them well, or even just parts of those steps, and B) a good landing will result from what you do while your body is executing the meat of the trick in the air.
Learn for Yourself
Although there's always little tiny idiosyncrasies and such with the techniques, when it comes to landing a trick, not only is it obvious, but when you want to land a certain way, you just have to do it. You have to position yourself coming out of the Execution of the trick to do whatever you want to do when you land.
So there is no cut and try way to try to detail aspects of the landing to you. Or perhaps there is, but this article is so long and I'm not even finished so I don't feel like typing them haha. No really, with good technique comes a good landing, and with a good landing, comes your own ability to figure out what you need to do to land however you want, to achieve whatever goal. So that's all I have to say about this part, yay!
Linking after Landing
Even though I just told you that the landing of a trick is quite dependent on the technique which is executed, each landing puts you in a certain position, with a certain amount of momentum in a certain direction. Generally, you want to get all your momentum to flow in a straight line. But anyways, this now ventures from the range of single tricks into linking them to others, which of course, is quite more awesome. So now, I'll detail a list of different landings common throughout tricking techniques, the momentum they usually carry, and what they almost naturally link into.
Note: almost all the landings I'm about to list are NOT a part of general tricking nomenclature. They're merely relatively descriptive titles that I'm assigning to different landings for the purpose of being able to understand them in this article.
  • Vertical Landing: A typical landing, almost as one would land a vertical jump. Usually no flat spin.
    • Backwards: (Back Flip, Brandy) Generic Vertical Landing, with momentum flowing behind you.
      • Resulting Setups: Jump Setup.
    • Forwards: (Front Flip) Generic Vertical Landing, with momentum flowing in front of you.
      • Resulting Setups: Jump Setup.
    • Sideways: (Side Flip) Generic Vertical Landing, with momentum flowing, GUESS WHERE. Sideways.
      • Resulting Setups: Jump Setup.
  • Stepout: Landing with possible flat spin, but on one foot. This creates the possibility of pivoting upon landing, therefore optionally creating flat spin on landing if there is none.
    • Inside: ([Straight] Gainer Flash, Flash Kick) Single foot landing, on the "inside" kicking leg. Momentum going backwards.
      • Resulting Setups: (Pivot) Step Out, Butterfly Setup, Backside Setup, (Pivot) Carry-Thru, Wrap Thru
    • Outside: ([Straight] Gainer Switch, Corkscrew, B-Twist) Single foot landing, on the "outside" kicking leg.
      • Resulting Setups: Swing Thru [Gainer Setup], (Pivot) Cheat Setup, Axe
    • These principle can also be applied to forwards flipping moves, though those are less common.
  • Kick: Landing on while performing a kick (non-hypered, meaning the non-kicking leg touches the ground during the kick). Flat spinning momentum flowing laterally in the direction of the kick, body "traveling" momentum flowing in direction 90 degrees past target (in general).
    • Inside: (Tornado, Cheat 900) Inside Crescent, Round Kick finishing upon landing.
      • Resulting Setups: Cheat Setup, Backside Setup, Axe, (Pivot) Swing Thru, MissLeg
    • Outside: (720, Jacknife) Outisde Crescent, Wheel, Hook Kick finishing upon landing.
      • Resulting Setups: Pop Setup, Carry-Thru, Butterfly Setup
  • Hyper: Two options: 1) Landing on "inside kicking" leg by overotation, swipe, or kick (with no outside kick) or 2) Landing on kicking leg.
    • Inside: (540, Hypertwist) Flat spinning momentum flowing laterally, travel momentum maintained in direction trick was traveling.
      • Resulting Setups: Butterfly Setup, Step Out, Carry Thru, Backside Setup
    • Outside: (Hyper 360, Hyper 720) Flat spinning momentum flowing laterally, travel momentum maintained in direction trick was traveling.
      • Resulting Setups: Cheat Setup, Step In, Axe, Swing Thru, Pop Setup

Think: What if you want to link one trick to another trick, but the landing of the first one doesn't flow naturally into the landing of the second one.
+ Answer: ...Well first of all, sometimes it simply isn't possible. For example: 540 > Back Flip. Ahaha. That's not happening, the landing position and momentum flow simply won't allow for it, without you pausing and letting all your momentum die. But yea, let's talk more about actually comboable tricks.
    Anyways, the list above is just talking about Landings that flow seamlessly (to a certain extent) into another Setup. If you want to link the landing to another Setup, you can do lots of things. Sometimes, you can simply pivot your body around and get into whatever Setup, and still make it look smooth, cool, and seamless. Simply add in another little motion between the Landing and Setup that gets you from the Landing position of the first trick into the Setup of a second. It's common sense really, I'm just telling you this so you don't think the above list is the definitive trick linking guide, because it's not.

Well well well, look at all that text up there! My my, what are we gonna do with that? Well, we can try to apply it to what we already know, or what we can already do. We can break down techniques into steps that we can practice sequentially and progressively. By that I mean, we can practice just the first step if we need to get a feel for that. Then, the first two. Then the first three. Etc etc. The fact that tricks are series of steps let's us break them apart so we can better our own technique on specific parts, each part effecting the whole. So let's put some together.
No, not at all.
In fact, it's interesting to note that by breaking the trick down into steps, we allow for more ways to perform the proper technique. How do I figure?
    Well, you can have two people with two totally different styles of whatever move, let's say, a (good) Jacknife. Let's say one person does it with a Crescent then a Hook, and one person does it with a Round then a Hook. One persons hips are slightly higher, and the other persons body is aligned vertically. You'll notice many people look different when doing Jacknives. But, are they all performing different steps in their execution? No! They're not performing different technical steps, they're performing the same technical steps, differently! Ha! Really, are they all digging and jumping? Yes. All spotting as they come up for the kick, swinging their arms and turning their bodies? Yup. Kicking inside? Yayuh. Wrapping around, spotting, and throwing out another kick? You betcha! You see, in general all tricks follow the same sequence of steps, no matter how "styled" someone does a trick. Isn't that neat?
Of course, there are a few tricks in which you can actually perform a different sequence of steps in your mind and come out with the same thing, neat! Regardless, tricks are all just series of steps, that's the whole point of this article! Even if you and someone else execute the same series of steps, you can still do the parts differently, visualize them in your head differently, and still get it done! Sweet!

Building Techniques

You may still be a little skeptical of all the information that I've spewed out in this article. And that's good! Questioning things is good, even things you already know are correct! By asking questions, you look for answers, and when we get answers, we gain more knowledge! Obviously, this applies not only in tricking, but quite greatly in the real world. Anyways, now to hopefully ease your mind, let's take some common tricks and break them into steps using the aforementioned mentioned global principles. You'll notice we can take certain concepts and break them down even further.

Reading These: The four main steps are color coded and listed sequentially from top to bottom. Within the steps, namely the Execution, different steps within the main step are divided side to side in groups. Each "block" of technique are executed at the same time.
    You may notice that some "step rectangles" are grouped with a slim horizontal bar, with an arrow on one end. The bar indicates that the steps work in conjunction, mainly for the benefit of the step box to which the arrow is pointing. Other than that, in the landing box, the type of landing per each trick is listed, based on the list I made up in the box above.


This is the basic sequence of steps for the 540. Cool! Notice that, somewhat obviously, the arm swing and leg lift are synergists of the flat spin. Guess this means you need to do those things (among the general flat spin pivoting motions) to get it the flat spin to work well, huh? But you don't need too much for a 540, since right after you get off the ground, it's time to chamber and kick! Easy breezy. Don't forget to jump!
B-Twist Round

This is just slightly more complex. We go through the Setup yes...and then comes the takeoff. We do a bunch of different motions during the Takeoff, all at the same time. Huh, maybe to get used to this trick, we could practice just the Setup and the Takeoff at first ya? But wait, there's twisting (lateral) Flat Spin going on in a B-Twist. Should we do that if we're only practicing the Setup and Takeoff? Probably not, you'll fall! Haha. So what do we learn from this? Sometimes if we're practicing just the technique for certain beginning steps of the trick, we may have to leave certain components out.

Flash Kick

This is a nice, simple example of the sequence of steps in a Flash Kick. Isn't that easy? It's a pretty easy trick conceptually, but sometimes people struggle with it. But just do these simple things! You dig down for the Setup, JUMP up into an arch, then just swipe your leg down. Simple! Perhaps people are abusing the arch concept? Maybe they're leaning backwards, instead of just arching backwards! Oh dang! What does this teach us? Simple concepts can sometimes be abused when our bodies don't do exactly what we want it to, or when we're telling it to do something wrong, unintentionally or not. Observe how skilled performers do whatever select aspect or step in a technique, and apply that to how you do it.
Pop 720 Double

I decided to throw a more complex technique in here. Notice though, it's a complex technique, but the only thing that gets that much more complex is the Execution. Think about it: the Takeoff section here is the exact same you'd use for a 360 Crescent! Isn't it? What does this teach us? Complex moves aren't completely independent tricks (usually), they're just extensions of other techniques. In this one, you're basically doing the steps for a 360 Crescent, and then adding on the last three segments in the Execution above. This also teaches us that a solid prerequisite will make the advanced variation that much easier, and that the advanced move can be made simpler to our bodies if we simply either extend or append to the technique of it's prerequisite, instead of trying to treat the move as it's entirely own technique with it's own secret code of execution or whatever.
One more thing though. Notice how I say the first kick is a Hyper? But, it doesn't even hit the ground then! It swings back around for the other kick. What does this mean? It means that sometimes you'll be doing the equivalent of what would be a hypered or a swipe kick in the air, but there will still be parts of the trick to execute after it. What a useless piece of information! Yet, awesome.


Have fun trying to make sense of all of this, haha. No, it's really easy to grasp! The only thing is, sometimes when we're new to tricks, or even start becoming more advanced, we trick ourselves into thinking that each trick is it's own big intimidating complex technique of niggdom. And sometimes, it is! Haha. But it's a big intimidating complex technique of niggdom which we can breakdown, and DIGEST THE PROTEIN of. And then do it. I'm not going to make much sense now, since all my formal uhh long typing is finished haha. I think I've covered a bunch of points over and over, so I can't be bothered to surmise all the keypoint I made in here now. Feel free to take a look back after a while and see if I've updated anything. Alright, have fun! Go do some tricks! Have a nice day. - October 3, 2008. Approximate Word Count: 11,000.