Skating switch will be awkward and stiff at first, but the only way to progress is to practice. There is no secret sauce, but there is one thing that will help you get started with being comfortable faster. That is cruising your city while riding switch footed for an hour or two at a time.
Anyway, let’s just dive into it.
What Is Riding Switch?
To non-skaters, this sounds a bit strange. Switch? Like the Nintendo Switch?
Skateboarding switch refers to your changing your foot placement. If you normally have a regular stance with your left foot forward, then your switch stance is goofy. If you normally have a goofy stance with your right foot forward, then your switch stance is regular. Otherwise, all the tricks you can do as the same except you add “switch” to the name, such as “switch ollie”.
Switch is important to recognize in games such as SKATE because it adds a level of difficulty to the trick itself. Many skaters can’t do any tricks switch unless they’ve taken the time to relearn their tricks in that stance. Doing a switch kickflip is much more difficult for most people than a regular kickflip.
If you’re a solo skater and want to get the most out of a session, check out 9 tips for skating alone here.
Why Learn To Skate Switch?
Someone might wonder why you would want to relearn tricks you already know in switch position. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re back on square one with a trick you already mastered. Struggling with a switch ollie is a bummer after learning flip tricks for instance.
Riding switch has many benefits that including becoming more comfortable on your board and allowing you to learn transition skating. Learning to skate switch can also help you smoothly land and 180 spin tricks so there is more than enough reason to learn. Virtually all professional skateboarders are comfortable riding switch.
So let’s quickly go over each reason on its own.
Becoming More Comfortable On Your Board
The more comfortable you are riding your skateboard the better. Learning to ride around and cruise switch greatly increases how comfortable you are with your skateboard and how dextrous you will be while you skate.
You don’t want to do a frontside 180 with style and then stiffly ride away because you’re not comfortable riding switch. You should try to at least be comfortable riding, pushing, and turning while switch. Otherwise, it can ruin even a simple line.
Learn Transition Skating
Skating transition refers to skating bowls, halfpipes, and quarterpipes. While it is possible to skate transition in a way that you never ride switch, most of the time you will need to skate back down or up in the switch position. This creates a little barrier to entry for transition skating. Not only do you need to learn to drop in and ride transition, you also need to learn how to ride transition switch.
This is pretty rough for someone who has never ridden switch before. I learned to do a simple rock n’ roll on a mini ramp and riding back down was the hardest part for me. I ate it hard a couple of times because of this.
Riding back down was the hardest part because I had never practiced riding switch.
How To Start Skating Switch
Ultimately, the only way to start learning switch skating is to spend time practicing it. That’s really it. There are no secret tricks.
But, I’ll go over what helped me
1. Start With Cruising Switch
For me, I would skate around in a session like normal and then try and skate around switch for a little bit. I did this for maybe 5 minutes at the end of the session if I felt like it.
It was boring and often skipped doing it because I couldn’t really do anything switch. I wasn’t really getting any better at riding switch.
Then, I had an idea. When you first start skateboarding you cruise around to get comfortable, so why don’t I start cruising switch?
I had been and still cruise around the city with a buddy of mine about once a week, and I’ve started to cruise entirely switch during this time. We cruise around for a good hour or two each time and the amount of comfort I’ve gained riding switch has been crazy.
Though I still have issues bombing steep hills and smoothly coming to a stop while riding switch, I’ve been improving way more than I was before just rolling around switch for 5 minutes.
You just have to get over the hump of pushing awkwardly and riding stiffly for the first couple of cruising sessions and then just keep at it. It’s really making a huge difference for me.
ACTION STEP: Go cruise at least once this week and only skate switch the entire time.
2. Practice KickTurns and Lifting the Board Up Switch
It can be frustrating how stiff and uncomfortable you are when starting to ride switch for the first time. One thing I took for granted while skating was being able to kick turn and lift my board up smoothly for a manual or whatever really.
Yet, as I’m learning to skate switch now, this is not the case when riding switch. I feel like I can barely control the board and kick turns are hard. This is a problem when you need to make a sharp turn in the street and you need to do a kick turn.
I’m finding that I need to specifically practice kick turns while riding switch which is pretty humbling, but whatever. Start off with tictacs and move on to doing a kick turn on quarter pipes. The good news is that these simple moves come much faster when you already can do them regular-footed.
ACTION STEP: Begin warming up your normal sessions with switch tictacs and simple kickturns.
3. Begin Relearning Tricks Switch
Only after you have gotten comfortable riding your board should you begin relearning tricks switch.
This is just like when you first started skateboarding. Did you immediately start to learn to ollie or did you ride around first and get comfortable turning and stopping?
Hopefully, you took the time to get comfortable with your board first. Once you are comfortable riding switch, then it is time to learn tricks.
The process here is exactly the same as learning a new trick in your regular stance. Just practice and practice until you can consistently land the trick. I would start with an ollie as this is the most useful trick to have and other tricks are based on the ollie.
ACTION STEP: Attempt a switch ollie 50 times in your next session. Take a video of at least one attempt even if you don’t land it.
Best Skaters Who Ride Switch
Most pro skaters can ride switch extremely well and the idea that someone is best at riding switch is silly. That being said, I’m absolutely going to mention a couple of skaters who are so talented that I was shocked to learn they were skating switch.
Andy Anderson participated in the 2020 Olympics in the street skating category, but he more often competes in freestyle competitions. He is an absolute beast of a skater and does wild freestyle routines that would make Rodney Mullen proud.
There’s one video I remember watching recently where Andy visits the 9 Club skaters and tries to teach some tricks to Chris Roberts. About 3 minutes into the video Andy starts teaching him in regular footing which is switch for Andy. Andy is killing it and Chris is struggling only to find out this is all switch footed for Andy, and Chris mutters “Who the f*** is this guy?”.
Check out that video here.
There are so many people that I could have put here, but I decided to put Nyjah here because he recently competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and he is generally a beast. You can’t really tell at all that he is skating switch unless you know that his natural stance is goofy.
Here’s a video of him teaching switch heelflips and honestly the tutorial isn’t great, but you can see how natural skating switch is to him.
I think that skateboarding is the most difficult hobby, or at least has the steepest learning curve. Check out the reasons why here.
Why Is Skating Switch So Hard?
Learning to skate switch really isn’t any harder than learning a new trick on your skateboard. It just seems frustrating and can seem like you regressed in ability when really, you’re learning a new skill.
Skateboarding switch is so hard because you’ve never exercised your muscles in this way before. Essentially, you need to retrain your muscles to do even the most simple motions of pushing, turning, and stopping on your skateboard. This can make learning switch skating seem difficult or frustrating because you spent so much time learning to skate in your normal stance and now need to relearn everything.
So that’s really it. People don’t realize that you’re learning so many new motions like pushing, turning, and stopping switch that they just feel like they’ve regressed and are suddenly bad again. The reality is that you’re learning a ton of new motions so don’t be so hard on yourself.
Skating switch isn’t insanely difficult. It can just seem that way.
There are loads of great guides to help you get started with riding switch so I’m going to link a few more resources that will hopefully help you get started. Most of these guides go over the same things I went over here in this article.
- Braille Switch Guide
- Jonny Giger Guide (This is less a tutorial and just a comparison of regular and switch tricks)
- George Poulos Guide (He is a very chilled out guy and fun to watch his videos)
So that’s it.
Riding switch is important for transition and any tricks with a 180 spin. It also can open up a whole new back of tricks for you to learn so at least get comfortable pushing and cruising switch to start with.
It will be awkward and stiff at first, but the only way to progress is to practice. There is no secret sauce. Start by cruising around switch on a cruiser set-up if you have one.
Most pro skaters can ride switch comfortably and some seem completely ambidextrous. For example, Andy Anderson and Jonny Giger are so good at riding switch that you can’t tell from just watching them.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.