Varial Heelflip

Updated: Feb 8, 2018

There are few tricks in skateboarding as enigmatic as the varial heelflip. It is not only a strange looking trick, but it’s also one of the most elusive to master. There is no getting around it; varial heelflips are weird. But, they are not impossible.




Varial heelflips are combination tricks, and so it makes sense to learn the parts that make them up first. Once you have frontside pop shuvits and heelflips on lock, you can put them together to form varial heelflips. This is a trick for advanced skateboarders, so you should learn some basic flatground tricks before moving up to the big leagues if you’re a beginning skater.


Frontside Pop Shuvit


The pop shuvit is one of the basic tricks that every skater should learn. Frontside shuvits are a little trickier, but they’re really not that difficult. When you are beginning to learn them, it is only natural to scrape the tail across the pavement. This movement makes it easier to get the board spinning frontside, but you will need to get out of the habit. If you want to learn frontside heels, you will need height.



(GIF source: Riders.co)



Foot Placement


Front foot placement is not important for frontside shuvits, because you simply get it out of the way. The trick tends to look cooler without so much setup, so just keep the front foot where it naturally goes when you coast. Placing your back foot more to the backside (the left side of the tail for regular-footed skaters) will help give you leverage to spin the board frontside as you pop.


How to do it


The key to this trick is to jump and get your weight off your front foot at the time as you pop the tail off the ground. It doesn’t really matter if you’re doing it frontside or backside. Frontside pop shuvits are only more difficult to learn. Once you have them down, they are just as easy as backside pop shuvits.




It sometimes helps less-experienced skaters to think of pushing the board behind themselves and jumping backward to land on it. For some reason that a physicist could probably explain, the board just wants to go that way. You don’t even have to pop it to get it to do it. Once you get the hang of it, though, learn to pop the tail and catch the board in the air.


Heelflip


We will assume you can already do kickflips. Heelflips are just the mirror-image trick. But, if you’ve tried them, you know things are not quite that simple. Heelflips feel foreign and strange to everyone at first. The only way to learn them is to try them over and over again until the motion starts to feel natural.



(GIF source: Riders.co)


Foot Placement


When we kickflip, it helps to move the front foot over to the backside of the board a little. The opposite is true of heelflips, so we move the front foot to the frontside of the board, just behind the front truck bolts. When you feel your weight shift onto your heel, you’ll know it’s near the right place. Keep the back foot centered on the tail, just as you would for an ollie.





How to do it


This is where it gets simple... yet extremely complicated. To heelflip, you ollie first, then throw your front foot off the edge of the nose to flip the board as you level it. Do this with the side of your foot and heel. It’s possible to flip the board using the bottom of your foot, but that makes it really hard to catch it in the air. Using the side of your foot against the angle on the nose gets the board to flip while it’s rising. The result: It comes up to your feet.


Step 3 - Varial Heelflip


So, obviously you just need to do the first two steps at the same time. However, when trying to do that, you’ll quickly see the problem. Varial heels hardly feel like either pop shuvits or heelflips. It is an odd trick that takes some time and repetition before it starts to feel normal.




(GIF source: Riders.co)



Foot Placement


Notice that heelflips are all about where you put your front foot, while frontside shuvits are all about back foot placement. So, varial heels are simply a combination of the two. The back foot goes to the backside of the board, making it easier to throw it frontside. Slide the front foot over and get your weight on your heel, just like heelflips. You may find it easier to push the front foot over a little further for varial heel flips, even to the point where you hang your toes off the board.





What To Do


There is a distinct 1-2 rhythm to varial heelflips. First, the pop shuvit needs to be crisp and high; then comes the flick. You don’t really need to ollie as you do on a straight heel flip. Varial heels are definitely more of a shuvit trick. Just pop that shuvit high and leave your front foot in the same position, waiting until the board comes around 90 degrees to flick it. It will flip and spin the remaining 90 degrees on its own.


That momentary pause before the flick is key. It gives the board time to rotate under the front foot. You then simply flip it with the side of your foot like a regular heelflip, except you are flipping the board more across your line of travel than along it. Once you get it flipping and rising, the board will tend to bone out (go nose-down) as it completes the 180 and flip. So, suck your knees up to your chest right after you flick, and the board should rise up to meet you. Then, you just have to extend your knees to land it.


Conclusion


Varial heelflips are such a cool trick because they look so strange and difficult. Once you get the hang of their weirdness, though, you will be able to use them on all sorts of street obstacles. They are good gap tricks, because the extra time during a drop gives the board more time to do its thing. Over stairs, varial heels are clip material, and they are impressive out of 50-50s. Just don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to get them wired. No one gets varial heelflips without working for them.



(GIF source: Riders.co)