There is a simple process we can all follow to help us learn new tricks. This in depth guide is designed to help you learn new stuff in whatever sport you are pursuing, and furthermore reduce the chance of injury. By following these steps you will reduce the learning curve and help you learn the trick faster, it will also help teach you the building blocks of learning new tricks so you can progress faster.

Remember, always warm up! Check out our warm ups for each sport in our courses.

Take it Step by Step

So we have all heard the expression don’t walk before you can run right? Well the same applies for learning a new trick. All but the most basic tricks can be broken down into separate parts. For instance, a  frontside 360 in snowboarding is a frontside 180 and a backside 180 joined together, so to do a frontside 360 I need to know how to do a frontside 180 and also a backside 180.

We can then break this down even more, if we want to do this over a kicker, we need to be able to go over a kicker in the first place with enough confidence to then start spinning off it. If you want to try spinning over a kicker then you will want to try on the flat first to get used to the movements. Then you want to be able to Ollie before that.

You see, many people going over the small kickers and trying their first 180 and 360s but at least half of the people doing this are getting about 1 cm of air, or they are washing out on the landing or even before the kicker. This brings us back a step further, you need to be able to snowboard before you hit kickers! If you can’t control your speed, control your direction and make the board do what you want it to then you are never going to have a chance of getting a that nice frontside 360 you dream of.

So you start to see a pattern here and you can really break down the tricks you want to stomp. So let’s break down the frontside 360:

  1. Be able to snowboard
  2. Be able to Ollie
  3. Be able to frontside 180 on the flat
  4. Be able to backside 180 on the flat
  5. Be able to straight air the size kicker you want confidently
  6. Be able to frontside 180 the kicker confidently
  7. Be able to Backside 180 the kicker confidently

Then you have the tools you need to do the 360 that you want to do. You may be asking why we have to break it down so much, why do we have to do a backside 180 to do a frontside 360, they are completely different tricks! Well, yes they are different tricks but you are using different parts of the tricks to make the 360.

So for instance for a frontside 360 we need to be able to take off on our heels and rotate out shoulders, to spin that way, it is the same for a 360 exactly the same movements but with either more air time or more of an aggressive rotation. Then we look at the backside 180, when landing a frontside 360 we are landing like we are landing a backside 180 so we are landing blind. If we already can land a backside 180 then we know how to spot the landing early, land on our toe edge and how to stop ourselves from washing out.

So now we can see how breaking the trick down to smaller segments not only makes the challenge a whole lot less daunting but it also makes it a lot easier and quicker to learn the trick, resulting in less falling over and lowering the chance of injury

So now if you wanted to do a Backside 360 with a nose grab you can create a similar list of things to do like this:

  1. Be able to snowboard
  2. Be able to Ollie
  3. Be able to backside 180 on the flat
  4. Be able to frontside 180 on the flat
  5. Be able to straight air the size kicker you want confidently
  6. Be able to Backside 180 the kicker confidently
  7. Be able to frontside 180 the kicker confidently
  8. Be able to backside 360 confidently
  9. Be able to Nosegrab

So looking at this you can see that there is only two new things to learn out of all those steps, you already have the foundation tricks in the bag that will make learning the backside 360 really easy, then you just add the nose grab and you’re there.

Using this technique forces you to go back and learn the simple tricks and will really help you in the future progressing, instead of having just gone through the process of learning a 360 straight away you now can do all these other things that mean you have the building blocks to learn so many other tricks so much easier than if you jumped right in.

Now obviously you don’t have to get out a pen and paper and write down the building blocks of the trick for every trick you want to learn, you can easily just think about it. But it is taking this time to think about and break down the trick that will help reduce the risk of injury and also help you progress a lot quicker.

Now I have only talked about snowboarding so far but this process works for every sport. For instance say you want to learn a kickflip to manual on a skateboard, can you Ollie? Can you kickflip confidently? Can you manual confidently? Using the process above you can break it down and learn it quickly and well not easily but definitely make it easier.

Watch the Pros

The pros know how to do stuff pretty well so a great way of learning a new skill is to watch them.  Go take a look at some of the tutorials here on or if you can’t find what you are looking for have a look on YouTube and just watch what they do, try to visualise in your head what they are doing, this ties in with the next point so I will skip straight over to it….


Visualisation, this is a huge part of learning a new trick. They say that 80% of a trick is in your head, and I totally agree.  Whenever I learn a new trick, especially if it is for the first time then it is because beforehand I had it dialled in my head. I knew I was going to land it before even going for it.

It all comes down to confidence, if you are confident at anything whether it be passing your driving test or dropping into a mini ramp you are much more likely to succeed because you don’t have that mental block. If you have visualised a trick it means you can really focus your whole mind on the task at hand.

We talked about in the last point about watching the pros, before you try that new trick that has been on your mind think back to that video and recall exactly what they did, take yourself through the process of doing the trick step by step. Think about their body position before the trick, on the build up to the trick, during the trick and just after the landing.

Imagine yourself in each of those positions until you can see YOURself doing the trick as if you had done it before.  This can be a long process, for harder tricks it is often worth thinking about the trick way in advance, the night or even weeks in advance before you get to try it so that by the time you come to do it you have it all laid out in your head what you are going to do, and you can just focus on nailing it. This is especially important for tricks with more of a high risk like backflips where if you bail halfway or lose focus then consequences could be pretty bad.

You can go one step further than visualisation and actually do the movements as much as you can. If it is a simple trick like a 180 then you can visualise the 180 whilst doing an actual 180 on the ground, but remembering to visualise that you are on the equipment you will be doing it on whether it be a bike or a skateboard or whatever.

If it is a bigger trick which you can’t do on the ground then just do as much of it as you can, so say for a backflip, visualise yourself running up to the jump then as you go off tilt your head back as you would and think of yourself looking round, then spotting the landing and then stomping it. It may seem a bit stupid but that little movement can really trick your mind into helping visualise the trick and when you come to the trick the muscle memory is kind of already there.

Prepare to fail (determination)

Ok so prepare to fail, this doesn’t mean accept defeat but unfortunately landing stuff first time can be rare, even after all the preparation is done like visualisation and taking those baby steps. What I mean by prepare to fail is to accept beforehand that it could be a long process, sometimes tricks just don’t come to you, it may even be a simple trick that you’ve done before but are trying on a different feature and it just isn’t working.

Quite often you will identify what is wrong with how you are doing a trick and then correct that, but you still can’t get the trick because there was another thing you weren’t getting right as well. Or more commonly the thing you have done to correct the initial problem has caused another problem you need to eradicate and it keeps going sometimes quite a few times until you get the trick.

This can be quite demoralising but until all these things are sorted, you won’t land the trick, which sucks. The important thing is to just keep trying and not get bummed out by not landing it, which brings me onto my next two points…


Be Psyched!

You have got to be psyched to learn a new trick, if you aren’t really determined to get the trick it’s going to be much harder. A determined mind is a focused mind as a wise man once said. Learning a new trick can take a lot of mental and physical energy so unless you really want to learn that new trick then you are not going to put the energy into it that will help you learn it.

You never know you might be lucky and just get it without too much effort and if you do then well done (you probably did the first few points really well!!) but if you don’t then it will be a physiological nightmare.


Hike a feature keep trying

A lot of people try a trick on a feature and then move to the next features, waiting till the next time they are at that feature to try it again. This commonly happens when you are lapping a park for instance in a snowboard park, a BMX park, or anywhere where there is multiple hits in a row.

Because there is such a big gap in between hits you forget what you did wrong, you forget the feel of what happened and how to correct it. So next time you come round you end up making the same mistake over and over, or running out of time for all those laps of that feature.

You may try the same trick on each feature all the way through the park, I think this is counter intuitive.  Although you may get more attempts at the trick then unless each feature is very similar then you will trying to learn the same trick but in many different ways.

So for instance a rail, some you have to pop hard onto, some are flat, some are thicker, and some have kinks and so on. If you try the trick on all these different rails, although the trick is the same it will require maybe a different approach, or require you to land with your weight focused more forward or back. These small changes really can affect you when learning a new trick, it will stop you from getting that muscle memory so you can repeat the trick.

So what should you do? Hike the feature. Simple as that, if you get off and go back to that same feature straight away without too much of a break you can really focus in on what is going wrong and get the trick nailed a lot quicker.

Us humans don’t have a great short term memory so use that small window where you can really remember what went wrong, the feel of the trick and how to correct it,  then you can get rid of the problem straight away or move on to the next thing you are doing wrong!

Now you have nailed the trick on that feature you can then go to do it on all the other features in the park, because you will have the trick on lockdown you can then think about the differences in each feature without having to think about the actual trick too much. The less you have to think about, the less chance of it all going wrong. You can just visualise the difference for instance getting your weight more forward or ollieing higher.


Take a break

So I have just been taking about how you should keep trying and be persistent and that’s totally right, if you give up every time you fail at something you will never learn anything new. However we are only human, our bodies and minds tire easily and the more tired we are, the harder it is to do things. Think of it in two ways,

There is a saying, you may have heard of it “Practice makes Perfect”, well it doesn’t what really happens is “Practice makes Permanent”. If you keep trying something and making the same mistakes over and over, you will start to develop a muscle memory for it, unfortunately it will be for the wrong thing. You want to avoid this by making sure you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes dozens of times. This brings me nicely to my next point…


Filming to stop repeat failures

Can’t work out why the trick just isn’t working out? Video analysis is a great way to break down the trick and work out what is going on. We pretty much all have at least a phone that takes half decent video, or even better a video camera. Set it up, or get a mate to record you and then have a look at the footage straight after.

Try to remember what the trick felt like while you were doing it so that you can then relate that to the video. Then while you are watching the video think about the trick broken down. Say it was a frontside boardslide on a skateboard you were trying to do, was it the approach, did the pop onto the rail send you off balance? Maybe you should just getting on the rail nice and smooth and controlled by doing a load of 5050’s. Or did you not rotate properly, or your feet kept missing the board? Maybe you should practice some backside 180’s on the flat to get that control in the air, or even some slow backside 90’s, really concentrating on keeping that board and your weight where you want it to be on the rail.

Try to break the trick down like this and focus on what is going wrong, then work on that particular issue, once you have nailed it, try again with the trick. Hopefully you should get it down, if not have a look at the new footage and look at what else is going wrong, then break that down.  It is just a process of eliminating the faults till you get it perfect.

Use other sports like trampoline

They say the best way to train for a sport is by doing the sport in question, this is true for the most part, but sometimes it is easier and safer to use things outside the sport to train with.  For instance, one of the most powerful and accessible tools that I think can help with a lot of sports, mainly those that you end up in the air, is trampolining.

Trampolining really helps build spatial awareness and balance in the air. Trampolining is a great way to learn inverts, spinning without going off axis and grabs. Although it is not the same as being on a board or skis or whatever it takes the element of riding away so that you can purely focus on the trick. Check out our Trampolining for training series for more.

Nailed it? Do it again!!

Right so you nailed it! Now go and do it again. You may just want to go to the pub, tell people about the awesome new trick you just learned and hide all those bruises you have gained. But the truth is if you do that, the next day you may not land that trick again and have to start again, Well not start again, but our brains are very good at forgetting things, particularly how we have done things.

So just because you did a trick yesterday doesn’t mean you will land it again. You need to do the trick again straight away after you landed it so that you can imprint that muscle memory into your brain which will make it easier to repeat the trick time after time.  There is a rule going, you can’t claim a trick properly unless I have landed it three times in a row, now this may seem arbitrary and I can’t tell you the amount of times I have landed the first, landed the second then messed up the third and had to start over, to be honest its really annoying, but it really does help you get those tricks down, and not only on that feature but it will help you nail the same trick on different features and to learn variations of that trick.

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