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As a skater aspiring to be the best, you will often go through phases as you learn the tricks of the trade. You’ll go through the struggle period where every single fundamental skill is a challenge to learn. You’ll probably have a period where you try out old-school skating or freestyle skating. Then you might have a period where you skate nothing but flat ground and add some tricks to your arsenal. Then comes the inevitable period where you skate transition and learn some stalls. However, we would argue that the part of skateboarding that is more than just a phase and will consistently enthrall you is learning how to grind.
Grinding ledges, curbs, handrails, and just about any surface with a flat edge is the foundation upon which street skating was built on. The rush that a skater gets when they get up onto a rail and glide along as if floating on air is something that just cannot be replicated anywhere else within skating. Hence why so many skaters aim to grind down the biggest handrails and tweak, flip-in, and flip out of grinds to showcase their technical brilliance (and their huge cajones). Well, before you hit those huge handrails, you will need to learn how to grind, and the first grind that most skaters learn is the 50-50.
The 50-50 is the most straightforward grind in the world of skating, perhaps tied with the boardslide, depending on your preference for skating ledges and rails. It is the rite of passage that allows skaters to add another layer to their skating lines and allows skaters to get a feel for grinds in the most stable position possible. However, you may be wondering how you can make this one of your next learns. Well, allow us to help you out. This is our comprehensive guide on how to 50-50.
What is a 50-50?
The 50-50 Grind is one of, if not the most straightforward grinds that a skater can attempt. This grind sees the skater ollie up onto a rail, ledge, etc. They can either do this by jumping on at the beginning of the platform or jumping on from either side. The skater then lands directly on the platform facing forward, with both of their trucks firmly planted on the ledge or rail. The skater then grinds along with the distance of this platform and then ollies off the platform, landing on the ground and rolling away. The best way to describe this grind would be a train traveling directly along the tracks. Except instead of wheels on a track, it’s grinding steel against a rail or ledge, which means more friction. So wax up that ledge before you hop on!
Who Invented the 50-50?
This is a very tough question as this is essentially asking who was the first skater to ever perform a grind. If we were to hazard a guess, we would say that this would have been in the late sixties and early seventies, around the time that the Z-boys were tearing up abandoned pools in the So-Cal area. However, these grinds wouldn’t have been like the 50-50s that we see today, as the trucks those guys used to ride on were nothing more than repurposed rollerblading gear. So the amount of contact and grind time that they would have managed would have been minimal. Plus, without coping and skate wax, this would have also made things tricky.
The 1990s was the era where mainstream street skating really took off, and skaters were grinding and defacing just about every ledge, bench, or curb in sight. So it is very hard to pin down the skater who definitively created the 50-50. However, we can tell you who was the first skater to popularize skating handrails, a staple of skate culture today. This was Mark ‘The Gonz’ Gonzales who managed to grind the first handrail ever in 1986 and changed the landscape of skating forever.
Are There Any Variations of the 50-50?
Just like any other trick out there within skating, there are tricks that are variations, tweaks, and similar movements to others, and the 50-50 grind is no different. This trick can be messed around with to offer much more complex and aesthetically pleasing results. Here are the most popular variations of the 50-50 grind:
Firstly, there is the way that you approach the rail/ledge that determines if you are performing your 50-50 frontside or backside. Presuming you skate goofy like me (If not, just reverse this). If you hop on the rail from the right-hand side, that is frontside, and if you hop on from the left, that is backside. This will come down to a matter of preference, but in general, backside tricks tend to be a little trickier to master as you cannot see what you are doing as clearly.
Then if you want to mix it up further, you can alter your stance before you hop up on the rail. You can ride up to this platform in the fakie or switch stance, or you could even pop a nollie to get up there, too, adding layers to this trick.
50-50 out to fakie
This is a great way to add some extra style points to your trick by adding a little bit of flair right at the end. When you pop off the ledge, you can try and pop an FS/BS 180, rotating to allow you to ride away fakie.
Flip-in/ Flip Out
This is a variation we had to be quite general with because, honestly, there are endless combinations that you could relate to this. This is essentially performing a trick before you make contact with the rail, doing a trick after you pop off the rail, or if you are super talented, perhaps both.
The 5-0 is a very similar trick to the 50-50 and combines the core principles of this grind with a standard manual to offer a completely new grind. This grind is basically a 50-50 only the skater applies pressure to the tail, allowing their front trucks to rise off the rail and hang in the air.
Then the nosegrind is the antithesis to the entry above. This is when the skater hops onto a rail and applies pressure to the nose of the board, allowing the back trucks to rise off the rail and hang in the air. This one is significantly harder, especially if you are grinding on a decline.
What Tricks Should I Know Before I 50-50?
As with most tricks you can do on a skateboard, there are some tricks that will serve you well when learning how to 50-50. There are some fundamental skills and some tricks that will help you on your quest to nail your first grind, and there are some essential tricks and skills that are 100% required if you want to add ’50-50s to your tracklist.
The good news is that in reality, you only really need to have a very solid ollie if you want to learn how to 50-50. However, we would also argue that manuals and curb stalls are also essential to learn as skaters should know the mechanics of a manual to pop out of the 50-50 and know how to curb stall to understand the feeling of locking into a grind. Here is a full list of all the tricks you will need to 50-50:
Essential Tricks for a 50-50
How To 50-50: A Guide
Can you ollie? Check. Can you ollie high? Check again. Well, in that case, we are ready to learn how to 50-50. For learning this trick, we would urge skaters to try and find a suitable curb or box ledge with some coping. Basically, something that isn’t too high and won’t cause too much damage to you if you bail. Grinding is a tricky skill to learn, and therefore, in the initial stages of learning, it is best to take precautions.
However, with all that admin out of the way, let’s get into it. This is our handy step-by-step guide on how to 50-50.
The first thing that the skater should do is scout the ledge that you intend to grind. You should skate parallel to the ledge and pop an ollie. While doing this, try and gauge if your ollie will allow you to get above the ledge and get your back trucks on the platform. If you think this is the case, skate up to the ledge and shuffle in close. Then try to pop an ollie and stall both your trucks on the ledge. If you can confidently do this, then you can go about using this spot as the place to learn your first 50-50.
Next, you will want to decide if you want to approach the ledge frontside or backside. We would recommend that all beginner skaters try to learn this trick frontside first, as this will allow the skater to keep an eye on what they are doing at all times. Once you have established what angle you will be approaching the ledge from, skate up to the ledge and pop an ollie. When you do so, you will want to jump slightly forward towards the ledge so that you land on the platform and not simply jump alongside it. This is why practicing stalls from the previous step is an important practice.
Now that you are in the air and in line with the ledge, you will want to make contact and lock in the grind. You want to make first contact with your back trucks and then lower your front trucks, meanwhile trying to push your outer wheel into the ledge as much as possible. This is what holds the board on track and is known as ‘locking in’ a grind. Once you have done this, let momentum glide you along the surface of the ledge. An important tip is to push your heels down as much as possible to keep in contact with the ledge. If you put weight on the front of your foot, the board will give way from under you.
Then finally, as you reach the end of the grind, it’s time for the dismount. You may think this is as simple as letting nature take its course, but you still need to be present and ready for this. You see, when you reach the end of the ledge, you will need to pop your tail slightly, not unlike a manual, allowing your board to pop off the end without any restrictions. Failing to do so will stop you from dismounting cleanly. So pop the tail right at the end and then land as if it were an ollie with your knees bending to absorb the shock of the fall. If all has gone to plan, you’ll ride off with your clenched fists raised, as seen in the video above.
Common Mistakes When Learning to 50-50
Every trick has its pressure points and hidden obstacles to overcome. Honestly, most of these are mental hurdles that we create for ourselves. However, there are some common technical issues that can be the difference between a perfect execution and a brutal slam. Rails and ledges are very unforgiving. So with that in mind, we have highlighted the main issues that skaters have when learning to 50-50, and we will document them below so that you can avoid making the same mistakes. Check it out:
A common issue that a lot of skaters have when learning to 50-50 is their weight distribution. Getting up on the ledge is the easy part if you have a decent ollie; it’s staying on the damn thing that can be challenging. This is because it requires balance and accurate weight distribution. If a skater leans forward or does not apply pressure with their heels when doing a 50-50, the chances are that they will either fall forward off the board, or the board will simply slip out from under them. So when you get up there, be mindful of what you are doing with your weight and try to focus all your energy on keeping contact with the ledge.
Another common issue is not necessarily doing an ollie high enough to get onto the ledge, but rather doing an ollie that lines your trucks up with the direction of the ledge. A common problem is that skaters will approach the ledge side-on, ollie up onto the ledge, not turn to meet the ledge and, best case scenario, do a messy boardslide, and at worst, hang up their board and sail over the ledge for a tasty slam.
No one wants that, and this is why we would suggest that you ride up to the ledge and practice hopping up and stalling with both trucks on the ledge. This will replicate the movement you will want to do when putting all of the pieces together. Failing that, you could just start right at the beginning of the ledge and grind the whole thing, but it’s better to learn the easier way first.
Forgetting to Pop Out
Then lastly, we cannot stress enough how important it is to pop out of this grind. If you don’t, the trucks will catch, the board will hang up, and when the board stops moving, you will keep going. To avoid this, we would advise that you get comfortable with flat ground manuals and then replicate this when on the ledge.
A 100% Chance of Learning How to 50-50!
As you can see from the information above, a 50-50 is a really fun trick to learn, a gateway to just about every other grind that a skater can learn, and best of all, as long as you have a strong ollie, you can attempt this and potentially nail it. This is a beginner grind, but when you break this one out in front of non-skaters, their jaw will drop. So be sure to use this guide, work through the steps, and when you finally get this trick. Be sure to shred every flat surface for us!
Answer: A 50-50 grind is a grind that has the skater face toward, following the direction of the ledge or rail, with both trucks firmly planted and grinding the rail. A 5-0 is very similar but differs slightly as the skater will pop their tail, raising the nose of the board into the air and allowing the trucks to rise up off the ledge. To paint a picture, it’s like a standard manual in the form of a grind.
Answer: This is going to be a rather subjective answer as different skaters struggle with different things. However, speaking from a personal point of view, my dream grind would be either a Nosebluntslide or a Bluntslide. This is when you approach the rail from one side and completely clear the rail, aside from your nose or tail, which catches on the other side of the rail and allows you to descend down. Other popular answers would be an Overcrook grind, a Feeble grind, or a Hurricane grind.
Answer: Tweaking a grind is a term that refers to a skater who begins by grinding in one way and then alters their position to maneuver into another type of grind. For example, if the skater is doing a 50-50 grind and then they raise their nose halfway through the grind, this is a tweak to make this a 5-0 grind.
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