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Friday, August 13, 2010

Updated Animal-Friendly Skate Shoes post

I've updated the animal-friendly skate shoes post. Find it here.


  1. Hey there... I was wondering how you find the Softrucks for practicing tricks - specifically, how does learning a trick on Softrucks translate to learning it while moving. Like you - almost exactly like you - I skated back in the day & have come back to it, & I'm looking for training/practice tools to get my feet back (& to learn new tricks.) Thanks for the input & keep skating!

  2. Hey Andrew, thanks for commenting. I find the Softrucks make the board have the feel of a moving board. It teaches you precision in foot placement.
    I'll try to explain further . When I'm standing still on a normal skateboard, the board feels kind of "loose" on its axes of movement, like it is easy to change the direction of it in any direction. There is no real inertia. And when I do an ollie not rolling, the board goes back first and the ollie feels different. When I'm on a moving board, there are various inertial vectors kind of keeping the board going a certain direction, there's more resistance when going along any axis of movement not consistent with the forward momentum. When I do an ollie while rolling, there is resistance side to side and up and down on the tail fulcrum. If my feet aren't right, the inertia of the board against the angle of my feet as the wheels leave the ground may make the board turn while in the air. Ditto for too much body lean in the wrong direction. This physical effect is what causes ollies to turn 90 degrees when you're first learning them moving. So, that's with a normal board. The Softrucks imitate very closely the dynamic feel of a rolling skateboard. Your feet positions change the attitude of the airborne Softruck-equipped skateboard in much the same way as they would a normal skateboard. But everything feels amplified in a way, like the Softruck-equipped board is actually more sensitive to feet positioning. Sticking a landing is actually harder on a Softruck-equipped board, so Softrucks teach you proper landing stance and foot positioning as well.

    Final words: Softrucks improve my foot positioning for both takeoff and landing. They also improve my body attitude because any lean or tweak of your body is translated to the board when it becomes airborne. My ollies have seriously improved, as has my overall confidence with technical tricks. I am currently using the Softrucks on a daily basis for these three weeks (1 down, 2 to go) to get my kickflips back on lock. I am also using the Grip Tape Tutor on the Softruck-equipped deck, and that is really helping a lot, too. I'm learning really good technique for kickflips - different than the technique I've been using, and much better and more reliable.

  3. Thank you for such an in-depth response. I think you've sold me on incorporating these as an element of training (god, that sounds so weird when talking about skating...)

    My real concern was that something like this would not translate well to a real world situation. Being older, I feel as if I can visualize & pick apart tricks & their mechanics in a way that I couldn't as a kid. Marc Johnson was talking, I forget in which video - maybe Lakai or the Hot Chocolate vid - about this in passing, basically stressing the importance of visualization - if you can imagine yourself doing the trick, you can do it... the body just needs to catch up. As I live in the Northeast & the weather is bad for a significant part of the year, something like Softrucks, I feel, might be a handy thing to have around to have under my feet. So I'm glad to here that you've found this to be a really good learning tool & that it in fact does translate well into doing the tricks in real time. If you think of anything else along these lines I'd love to know your thoughts. Thanks again - & so glad to know I'm not the only one coming back to skating at 35!

  4. Good to hear, Andrew, that I'm not alone. This morning I was doing flatland - my favorite - and realized that my Softruck training was working well. Specifically, I gave all my ollies, nollies, and shove-its one extra push to find the same pop I'd been getting from my Softrucks. So, faster = more familiar = better pop, all because of the Softruck training.
    On a similar note, I've decided to give up on the kickflip training for the very reason you mentioned in your post: I cannot visualize myself landing the trick. I used to be able to kickflip, and I even have myself on video landing kickflips as late as last year. But my body is older now. I find that if I spend time on kickflips, everything else suffers. EVERYTHING else. It is frustrating. I start to lose all my other tricks one by one the more time I put into relearning or perfecting kickflips.
    I also wanted to mention that there are two ways I learn tricks. One way is the way you mentioned, visualizing the trick and picking it apart into its components and then working each of the components separately. The other way I learn tricks is by accident. Sometimes, when I'm perfecting another trick, like ollies or rail slides or rail flips, there will be a part of the trick that feels like I could change it just a bit and get a different trick out of it. For example, when I nollie, I bail out of it sometimes and as my feet come off the board it flips in a nollie heelflip. Another example is when I was doing rail stands a lot my back foot, which usually mounts second in order onto the rail, would mount onto the curve of the tail, and the board would come up like a kickturn, but I was on the rail. I had the idea then that I could "ollie" off the rail, but when I tried it, the board flipped under me. Hence, I turned it into a rail flip. That's what I mean by learning tricks by accident. Keep me posted, though, it is good to hear from you!

  5. I remember the "trying one trick & inadvertently landing another one" thing from when I was skating a lot. It was always a pleasant surprise, an unexpected bonus.

    So I'm wondering/thinking about a couple different things. I'm thinking mostly about kick-flips lately. It always seems to be the trick that everyone, universally, has problems with. I'm not saying they came easy for me at all - I struggled just like everyone else - but it always seems to me that the problem really is to be found in 1) speed & 20 committing your feet to the trick. I agree with you 100% - speed helps in ALL aspects of skating. I always found that the faster I was going, the easier the trick seemed to be. I remember watching videos & thinking that everyone in the video was skating - usually - at a really decent clip. I think it's a way of tricking the body into reacting faster while giving it less time to think about the awful consequences if the trick isn't stuck. So I think that when we go to learn kick-flips, most people learn them somewhat stationary or rolling very slowly - I say crank it up. One of the harsh realities, and also one of the things that makes skating so great is that yes, you can get tore up doing this. But what's more life-affirming then eating some concrete from time to time? It reminds us of the SOLID things in this world. Yes, it hurts, and as we get older we have to consider things like insurance, work, etc. But skating is a lifestyle. At least that was how I always thought of it. Maybe I'm wired wrong. I realize that the natural progression of time has made certain things tougher, recovery times longer... but we skate - we are skateboarders - because there is something in us that doesn't conform. So slams go with the territory. & I've had my fair share of pretty gnarly, gnarly injuries...

    Sorry to be rambling here, I'll try to tie it back...

    All this leads me to another thing I was wondering about: do people still street skate the way we did growing up. I mean, we had spots - spots we hit everyday - but where I grew up in Southern Vermont a large part of our skating day was spent simply doing lines through town, hitting curbs, bumps, hills - everything we could find. And maybe that has informed my outlook on skating. I love parks and the ease that they provide. But I also wonder about having to constantly adapt to new terrain and if that element has been lost, and if that subsequently ties into how we learn tricks. The great thing about flatland is that it can be done in a relatively small, smooth space. But to translate those tricks I really think they need to be done as one moves through a changing landscape.

    Don't give up on those kick-flips. Commit your feet as much as you can, but just try to integrate them into the overall scheme of your skating. If you give them too much focus, sometimes that can do more harm than good. Maybe for every ollie or nollie, try a kick-flip in between, whether you stick it or not. The worse that will happen is road rash!

    Thanks for the insightful conversation. It's great to hear from another skater in their 30's.

    I wonder, have you been trying any of the other kinds of flip tricks? Have you tried them with the softrucks? Have you attempted any switch stance stuff?

    1. Hey Andrew, I just wanted to let you know that, thanks to your encouragement, I did not give up on kickflips and I can now land them pretty consistently on concrete. In the end, I did just focus on kickflips, but not during my sessions. From November 2011 - present, I have destroyed a pair of shoes doing 30-40 kickflips every night on a thick rug in my garage. I'm working on doing them rolling now.
      Thanks for the motivation!

  6. I hear you about the speed thing. That's where the Softrucks really help out.
    Yes, I can do heelflips regular and I'm learning them switch. The Softrucks helped me learn them. I've always kind of "got" heelflips, whereas kickflips always seemed awkward. I try to do all tricks regular and switch, once again the Softrucks come in handy for that.
    It's hard to pull lines through town like we used to. I mainly don't have time for that.

  7. I've been thinking about how we used to pull lines through the streets. I used to get great joy from using the skateboard as transportation. Pulling lines was fun, yes, and necessary sometimes, like ollieing up the curb. There was this one curb on a sidewalk next to a building; the curb got narrower and narrower as I rolled along it, and I had to exit it somehow and get on the street. But I had to limit my time on the street because of traffic, I was really only getting off the curb and ollieing back onto the next curb about 15 feet further on. This was on the left side of the road so the building was at my back. Regular footed. The sidewalk got too narrow to swing wide and acid drop or pop an ollie off the curb, so I used to just do a backside truck grind on it to get down the curb. This evolved into a backside 5-0 because this way there was much less chance of hanging up and eating crete. And, yeah, speed was everything. I was moving fast fast fast down a hill when I hit this curb. I didn't know about wax then, but even if I did I never would have waxed the curb. At that speed there was no need. I probably never ground the curb more than a few feet, but it was enough that I would rotate my trucks every 2-3 weeks and in 6-7 months I would be down to the axle.

    Now I visit skateparks with their metal or ceramic coping that is so slick you actually speed up when you truck grind on it. I try to pull lines in the parks, but there are often too many people there. Lines are not to be had most days. So sad.

  8. Marc Johnson quote from Modus Operandi Transworld video.

    Please post more reviews soon. New Venture 5.8 wides and Indy Hollow Forged in 149.

    1. Your request has been granted:
      Thanks for the idea!