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The beginning of the skating journey is always a testing one. The beginning months are tedious and are usually filled with skate sessions where you will focus on simply riding confidently on a board, nailing your fundamental skills, and getting some height on your ollie. Then over time, the fundamentals will become second nature, and your impetus will change as you try to land some flip tricks.
You will wrestle with kickflips, heelflips, and shove-its for some time, and truthfully, this will be an uphill battle. However, once you climb this mountain, the world of skating and all of its possibilities really begin to open up, and one trick that tends to be everyone’s first stop on this journey to skateboarding mastery is the varial flip.
The varial flip or Varial Kickflip is a lot of skaters’ first intermediate trick and is a signal to your fellow skaters that you know a thing or two about nailing flip tricks. This trick is a combination of a backside pop-shove it and a kickflip. The two motions are combined to create a trick that flips and rotates on two axes and is a really aesthetically pleasing trick if done well.
However, you may be wondering what this trick looks like, what tricks you should have locked down before you try this one, and what steps you should take to add this to your trick list. Well, we aim to help you understand all there is to know about this flip trick and ensure that you learn this one as quickly as possible. So without further delay, here is our comprehensive guide on how to varial flip.
What is a Varial Flip?
A varial flip is a natural progression of both the backside pop-shove-it and the kickflip. The skater will place their foot on the toeside pocket of the tail and their front foot in the normal kickflip position. Then they will pop the board, naturally starting the shove-it rotation and simultaneously flick the kickflip. This will cause the board to flip 360 degrees and rotate 180 degrees before the skater catches the board and rides off feeling all kinds of accomplished. Here is an example courtesy of yours truly for your viewing pleasure:
Who Invented The Varial Flip?
If you’ve read any of our other wonderful skate trick tutorials, this question is probably becoming easier and easier for you to answer yourself. This is simply because, in most cases, Rodney Mullen created the trick in question, and this one is no different. Rodney created the kickflip back in the early eighties, and while we don’t have a set date for when he created the varial flip, we would imagine it wasn’t too far behind. Rodney is responsible for so many of the mainstream flip tricks present in skating today, and the varial flip is just another to add to this laundry list of innovative accomplishments.
What Variations of The Varial Flip are There?
The varial flip is a trick that is rather similar to other tricks, and equally, it is a trick that makes up a lot of the core principles found in other more complex tricks. So we thought it would be a good idea to run through these and give you a rundown of the tricks that would be considered Varial Flip variations. Check them out below:
Varial with Rotation
Firstly, you have a varial flip with a rotation. This is when the skater flips a varial but also rotates 180 degrees, 360 degrees or more backside or frontside.
Then you can alter the trick by doing the trick in a new stance. You can ride fakie or switch and do this trick, or you can pop the board from the nose and flick the tail to do a nollie varial.
This is a very similar trick in principle but requires a very different set of movements. The skater will flick a heelflip while simultaneously popping the board with the ball of the foot in the heelside pocket of the tail to create the rotation similar to a frontside shove-it. This is slightly trickier than the varial kickflip as the frontside shove-it motion is a little harder to master, and the skater is unsighted for a portion of this trick.
This one is a real step up from the standard varial flip. What’s better than one varial flip? Well, two, of course. A nightmare flip is a double varial kickflip and requires the skater to have mastery of the standard trick as well as the ability to float in the air while the board does its magic.
Arguably the most beautiful of all skate tricks and certainly my personal favorite. The tre-flip requires the skater to kick a kickflip, but instead of a 180-degree rotation, the skater will also need to do a 360 shove-it rotation.
This one is a very impressive-looking trick that doesn’t stray too far from a varial in terms of execution. This is somewhere between a varial kickflip and a hospital flip. The skater will flick a standard kickflip but will flick the board downwards, almost asking the board to do a frontflip motion before landing back on the board.
Then lastly, we have a hardflip. This is similar to a varial kickflip, but the key difference is that instead of the rotating backside, the skater will rotate the board frontside and flick the kickflip. This is a really tricky one as the skater will need to perform the flip directly under their legs and perform a scissor-like shape with their legs, but boy, doesn’t it look amazing?
What Tricks Should I Know Before I Learn To Varial Flip?
If you are someone that can step onto a board and throw out a varial kickflip for the onlooking crowd to enjoy, let me tell you, you are an anomaly, my friend. Skating is a process, and you will need to work hard at progressively climbing the ladder to mastery one trick at a time. So when it comes to varial kickflips, there are naturally some things you will need to know before you even think about taking them on. However, you may be wondering which tricks you need in your arsenal. So here is a quick rundown.
In terms of essential tricks, you will need to be able to ollie, kickflip, and backside pop-shove-it. These are the three core movements that combine to make a varial flip, so without a firm understanding of these tricks, getting a varial will be a real struggle. However, there are a number of other helpful tricks that you could learn which might help you learn a varial kickflip. Here is a complete list of all the tricks that you should know before you varial kickflip
Essential Tricks to Know
Other Helpful Tricks to Know
- Hospital Flips
How to Varial Flip: A Guide
Here it is, the main event. You’ve worked hard to meet the requirements for this trick, and now it’s time to learn this killer flip trick. Below we have created a guide that breaks this trick down and allows you to follow a simple step-by-step process, meaning you’ll have this trick before you know it. Plus, here is a standard and fakie varial demonstration to help you picture what you need to do when you step on the board. Check it out below:
Before you go about trying this trick properly, you should take the time to get the flip rotation down on its own before worrying about landing on the board. To do this, we would urge skaters to roll slowly to build some momentum, put their back foot in the toeside tail pocket and their front foot in the standard kickflip position. Then try to flick this trick, stepping off the board with your back foot after you pop the board and then try to catch the board with one foot after it has completed the full rotation. The goal of this exercise is to gain an understanding of the flip motion, to get an understanding of what the back foot’s role in the trick is and to master the flip without losing control of the board.
Now that you have an understanding of the trick, it’s time to put this theory into practice. Begin this trick by rolling forward and making sure your foot position is as described in step one. Then pop the board straight down while sliding and flicking your front foot out at the heelside nose pocket, much like a standard kickflip. Remember to avoid scooping this trick. As long as your foot is in the right position, the board will come around enough to do this trick. Any more scoop, and you’ll end up doing something closer to a Tre-flip.
Now that the board is in motion, you want to make sure you let the board rotate. Try to follow through with your front foot and keep it out in front of you. Watch the board as it makes its rotation and when it has completed its journey, bring your front foot back in to make the catch.
Once your front foot has made the catch and stabilised the board, bring your back foot into contact and then prepare for landing. Try to make sure that your feet are on the two sets of truck bolts and when you make contact with the ground, bend your knees to absorb the landing. If all goes well, you will have just landed your first varial kickflip. Congrats!
Common Mistakes When Learning to Varial Flip
As with any trick in the skating catalogue, there are certain pressure points and pitfalls that many beginner skaters fall into. However, we wouldn’t be doing our job right if we just let you fall into these traps. We have documented a few common issues below, along with some quick fixes to help you overcome them and land your first varial kickflip. Check them out below:
We cannot stress this enough when referring to varial kickflips; you do not need to scoop this trick. The key to success and not overrotating this trick is using your foot position to do all the work. If you ensure that your back foot is in the toeside tail pocket, the board will rotate naturally, allowing you to purely focus on the kickflip rotation. So don’t work hard, work smart!
Another common issue with this trick is losing control of the board and the board flying ahead of you. This is a problem that occurs quite a lot when learning to kickflip, but you know what they say, old habits die hard. To avoid this one, make sure that you are flicking out when you reach the heelside nose pocket, rather than forcefully kicking your foot out. We know it’s called a kickflip, but there isn’t an actual kick involved.
Then lastly, there is a tendency with this trick to lean back upon landing, causing the board to fly forward and leave you with a sore behind. In fact, this is a great time to break out one from my personal blooper reel to showcase the error:
This is usually caused by weak posture upon landing or landing without pulling the board directly below you first. The former is an easy fix. All you have to do is focus on keeping your head held high and your shoulders back. This should do the trick. Then as for the latter, if this trick gets slightly ahead of you in the air, be sure to use your front foot to catch the board and then drag it back under your control. If you can do this, you should have no further problems.
Get Aerial With a Varial!
As you can see from the information above, a varial kickflip is a great trick to build on your beginner skills and push your overall skating ability into the realms of intermediate. The varial kickflip is a stunning trick, a very attainable one for beginner skaters and provides key learnings that will help you learn how to do more complex tricks like tre-flips, for example. We hope that our guide serves you well in your quest to learn this trick and, as always, thank you for reading.
Answer: The varial kickflip is generally considered an easier trick to learn. This is mainly because the front-side shove motion required for the varial heelflip is a little harder to master than the back-side shove-it motion. However, it also depends on your preference for kickflips or heelflips. If you learn kickflips first, then the chances are that you will learn varial kickflips first, and vice versa.
Answer: The simple answer is no. Instead of scooping this trick, you will want to make sure that the ball of your foot is tucked into the toeside pocket. Then when you pop the tail, the board will naturally make its way around in the natural pop-shove-it motion. Scooping the board will over-rotate the board, but if you are going for a tre-flip, this is exactly what you want.
Answer: We think this is a strong statement, but we certainly believe that this trick is underrated. We think contributing factors are that many skaters will skip this trick in an attempt to learn a tre-flip. Plus, if you do these tricks awkwardly, they have a tendency to look a little ugly. However, if done with height and not rocketed, these tricks can look stunning.
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