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If you're a new skateboarder, it's tempting to initially gravitate towards learning basic flip tricks like ollies, kickflips, and heelflips, but there's one skateboard trick that's more beneficial to learn first: a manual. Learning how to manual is a fantastic way to get a feel for your skateboard and improve your overall balance while skating.

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What Is a Manual in Skateboarding?

A manual is a freestyle skateboarding trick where the skateboarder shifts their weight to the back or front of the board in order to lift the front or back wheels into the air without the tail or nose of the board touching the ground. Think of a manual as the skateboarding version of popping a wheelie on a bicycle. Lifting the front wheels into the air is a standard manual, while lifting the back wheels into the air is called a nose manual.

How to Manual on a Skateboard in 6 Steps

When learning how to manual, remember that any new trick takes practice. There’s a good chance you’ll scrape up the tail of your board before you get the hang of it, so consider practicing with an older deck.

  1. Choose the right location. Find a location with smooth, flat ground, and make sure there aren't any obstacles that will get in your way. Parking lots, skate parks, or empty sidewalks are good options.
  2. Start in your normal stance. Skate forward until you've picked up a moderate amount of speed.
  3. Move your back foot to the tail of the board. Your foot should cover the tail’s edge. Position your front foot over your front trucks and bend your knees slightly.
  4. Gradually reallocate your weight towards your back foot. Simultaneously, lean forward with your upper body. A common mistake is to lean backward as you put extra weight on your back foot, but you must keep your center of gravity over the middle of your board in order to prevent yourself from falling. If you do this correctly, your front wheels will lift into the air as you ride.
  5. Stay balanced. Continue to control your balance while you roll forward, making minor adjustments to your weight distribution when necessary. Remember that the tail end of your board should not touch the ground. It's completely normal if you can only balance for a couple seconds at first, but as you continue to practice you'll be able to travel longer distances.
  6. Lower your front wheels to the ground. Reallocate your weight back to your front foot while simultaneously returning your upper body to a regular position. This will cause the front of the board to fall back down to the ground.
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8 Variations of the Manual in Skateboarding

Once you've mastered the regular manual, try challenging yourself by learning one or more of these variations.

  1. Nose manual: Shift your weight to the front of the board in order to lift the back wheels into the air.
  2. English manual: Execute an English manual by placing your back foot over the back truck and your front foot underneath the nose of the board. Then, use your front toes to push the nose up off the ground into the manual position.
  3. Swedish manual: The opposite of an English manual, a Swedish manual involves placing your forward-pointing front foot over the front truck, your back foot underneath the tail of the board, and using your back toes to hook your board up into the nose manual position.
  4. Hang ten manual: Place both of your feet next to each other on the nose of the board and balance only on the front wheels.
  5. Heelie: The opposite of a hang ten manual, a heelie is when you place both your feet next to each other on the tail end of the board and balance only on the back wheels.
  6. Fakie manual: Perform a manual while riding fakie.
  7. One-foot manual: Perform a manual while balancing on one foot with your other foot floating in the air parallel to the board.
  8. One-wheel manual: Execute a regular manual, but balance on only one of the back wheels.

Want to Learn More About Skateboarding?

Whether you’re just learning how to ollie or ready to tackle a Madonna (the vert trick, not the singer), the MasterClass Annual Membership can help you find confidence on your board with exclusive instructional videos from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, street skater Riley Hawk, and Olympic hopeful Lizzie Armanto.

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