I recently learned how to Frontside 180 and I also probably discovered every possible way to mess it up in the process. The good news is that I have lots of video clips and first-hand advice to help you identify your issue and tell you what helped me.
There are only so many ways to mess up a trick. I go over the most common Frontside 180 problems with visual examples in this post and give solutions.
Keep in mind that sometimes you’ll fix one issue only for another one to pop up. Such is the nature of skateboarding. You have to keep fixing your form until you have the trick.
So anyway, let’s dive into it.
Not Turning Your Shoulders Enough
This is a big issue and the most common problem for FS 180s. The issue is that either you haven’t learned to jump and turn fully while popping your board yet, or that you unconsciously aren’t committing to fully turning. It is most likely that you simply aren’t committing to turning your shoulders completely so that you can land and ride away.
It is also very possible that you land the FS 180 and still aren’t turning your shoulders enough. You would be forcing your board to turn either with your legs or with a scooping pop shove-it motion. If this is the case, your FS 180s will look awkward with your arms and shoulders turning only after you land.
The solution here is to focus on your shoulders and in particular your front shoulder. Your front shoulder should completely turn and face back towards you the tail of your board. You can think of this as “opening your shoulders” while you turn.
Personally, it was much easier for me to focus on where my front shoulder was pointing rather than think about where my chest was facing. In other words, my chest could completely turn, but I was still not completely turning my shoulders.
Focus on your front shoulder and completely turning it towards the tail of the board as you jump in place. There is no need to force the motion with your legs.
If you want to know how long it takes to learn a Frontside 180, check out my data-driven guide. It probably takes much longer than you think.
Not Popping Your Board
This can be tricky when you first start, but for most people isn’t such a common problem. It can also happen when you’re lazy or simply tired.
If you don’t pop your board, you won’t catch and level out your board with your sliding front foot and your board will often not follow your body. This isn’t always the case and it is often very possible to turn your board with no pop at all with a motion similar to a shove-it. This is bad form though and undesirable.
Focus on flicking down your back foot as you start to jump and turn your shoulders. The board should have good snapping pop and catch your front foot. If you aren’t popping as well because you are tired, go home and come back another day.
It can also help to reset yourself by doing a couple of tricks you have down before trying again to FS 180. For instance, try and reset by popping a couple of ollies.
Not Keeping Your Shoulders Level
This can happen when you only focus on one shoulder or are unconsciously leaning back from the direction of motion. This will cause you to put your board down way too quickly and have no air. While it is normal to put the back wheels down slightly before your front wheels, unlevel shoulders will make this much more pronounced.
It can also cause you to have difficulties catching your board as you ollie. This is because you might be leaning back as you jump and pulling away from the board.
Set up so your shoulders are level with the ground and keep them this way as you pop and turn your shoulders. Try and be aware if one shoulder is rising up and shifting your weight.
I needed to focus on keeping my front shoulder down with my back shoulder as I did this trick. At first, I would lean back and my front shoulder would come up. This was really an issue of preparing to fall or bail and not committing.
Fixing this and keeping my shoulders level was the biggest problem I had. Fixing this got me almost there with my FS 180s, but not quite. Still, it made it so I actually landed them most of the time.
Not Jumping Straight Up
A little bit of shifting over as you jump is pretty common and not too bad, but you want to at least try to jump straight up. This will give you better board control and stop bad habits in their tracks.
Jumping to the side can happen when your balance isn’t perfect and you try the trick while leaning to one side. Sometimes, when you lean too far, the board will start to move away from you and you won’t land the trick or will awkwardly force the board down with your legs.
What helped me the most was imagine spinning in place right over the back tail of the board. This helped me not only stay centered above my board but learn to also not spend too much energy jumping and twisting the board. The FS 180 should and can be a smooth little motion.
Focus on adding height and steeze later. For now, just get a good centered and controlled pop and turn.
Turning Your Board With Your Legs
Most of these problems sort of overlap and can be symptoms of one another. For instance, turning your board with your feet can be developed from not committing to fully turning your shoulders.
This is a particularly bad habit as it makes your FS 180s look awkward and makes landing and rolling away quite difficult. You also end up spending way more energy than needed to land the trick. The trick will also just feel wrong, forced, and unsatisfying.
This problem really stems from a shoulder issue. You are compensating for not turning your shoulders by using your legs. It’s a bad habit that can be fixed ironically, by not focusing on your legs, but on completely turning your shoulders.
Once you fix your shoulders so that they completely turn, then you will naturally correct from using your legs to twist the board. Notice in the gif above how my shoulders are never fully turning and I’m landing with my chest facing almost completely forward.
Not Being Able to Roll Away
This one is tricky and could be from a number of different problems already mentioned in this post.
For me, the biggest two reasons I couldn’t roll away were from turning the board with my legs and from not jumping straight up. In both cases, there is a lot of momentum that isn’t in the direction of motion. One coming from my body still spinning to catch up to my lower body, and the other from literally jumping off towards the side.
There could be other small reasons for this so it will take you videoing yourself or asking a friend for advice if you really are clueless. Note that knowing what’s wrong and training your body to do a new motion are very different things. It takes time to correct something even if you know exactly how to do so.
First, evaluate why you aren’t able to roll away. This is a symptom of a bigger problem. Do this by videoing yourself or asking a friend.
Once you know why you can’t roll away, find the appropriate section in this article and follow that advice. It is very likely that you aren’t jumping straight up or aren’t fully turning your shoulders.
Is a Frontside 180 Easier Than a Backside 180?
Most people will tell you to learn a Frontside 180 before a Backside 180. But why is that? Is there really any difference in the two tricks?
Generally, a Frontside 180 is easier to learn and land than a Backside 180. The motion of turning your board to face the direction of motion comes more naturally for almost everyone. Your body wants to turn and face the direction of motion so you likely have practiced the Frontside 180 turning motion without knowing it. The Backside 180 is often something that skaters have never practiced unconsciously and muscle memory will need to be built from nothing.
Otherwise, there is no other difference in difficulty except maybe the mental factor. Your body doesn’t want to turn its back on perceived danger so actually getting yourself to turn in this way can be hard for some people.
Really, it only seems harder because you’ve never practiced turning in that direction before. Whereas you’ve been practicing a Frontside turn probably since learning to ollie. Most people have to learn to not turn Frontside while doing other tricks.
How Can I Improve My FS 180?
Often people learn to land a trick, but the trick is sloppy and isn’t as steezy as they would hope.
You can improve your Frontside 180s by practicing them each time you skate. While you practice, try to correct and improve your form and style of the trick. If you practice the same bad habits again and again, you will only make them more difficult to change.
Honestly, changing a learned motion while you skate is incredibly difficult to do. Once you have muscle memory, changing it will take time and might result in some frustration. If you landed a sloppy and low FS 180 9 out of 10 times, it can be frustrating to not be able to land any steezy FS 180s as you begin to tweak your mechanics.
Stick with it and give it time. It’s better to relearn a trick than being stuck with a sloppy and improper form of that trick.
How Long Does It Take to Learn a Frontside 180?
I recorded all of my attempts to land the Frontside 180 and get to a point where I was consistently landing it 70%+ during my skate sessions. Note that I had landed the trick before I even started collecting data.
It takes about 16 to 20 hours of focusing on the trick to consistently land a Frontside 180. This constitutes roughly about 1,200-1,600 attempts of the trick. Some people will learn faster and others will learn slower depending on ability and other factors.
Personally, it took me about 15.5 hours of focusing on the trick exclusively and just about 1,112 attempts to land it 70%+ consistently. I might be slow, and it’s likely that other people will learn to land this trick much faster than I have.
If you’re wondering if you should or could skate every day, check out my pros and cons list and whether I think you should even try.
So that’s the gist of it all. These are the common problems with landing and learning the Frontside 180, and are problems that I personally dealt with. Remember that many of these problems will actually overlap and you could likely be doing more than one.
The processing of learning a skateboard trick isn’t about suddenly realizing something and then landing it every time. You will be consistently improving your form by focusing on different things and slowly training your body to do the correct motion. Knowing what to do to land a trick and actually landing it are very different things.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more content from Board and Wheels.