Now, I might not be able to skate to save my life, but I can do a little physics. So here's a thought - maybe I can use physics to learn how to do an ollie. Here's the plan. I'm going to open up the above video of skateboarder Adam Shomsky doing an ollie, filmed in glorious 1000 frames-per-second slow motion, and analyze it in the open source physics video analysis tool Tracker.
My problem is that my board always lands crooked when I Ollie. The worst thing is that I even tell myself to “keep your shoulders straight” while I’m doing the Ollie and I still land crooked. I think it’s just hard for people to grasp the simple fact that everything on a skateboard has to be done horizontally which is odd because people don’t walk sideways. We walk straight. Like roller blading for example…. it’s easier for me to roller blade because I’m used to walking and running obviously except with a skateboard everything is as if you were hopping over a fence sideways. Skateboarding is tough.
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Just before a skater performs an ollie, there are three forces acting on the skateboard. One of these forces is the weight of the rider, shown here with two red arrows. Another is the force of gravity on the board itself, shown with a small black arrow. Finally, blue arrows show the force of the ground pushing up on the skateboard. These three forces balance out to zero. With no net force, the skateboard doesn't accelerate, but rolls along at a constant speed.
Pull your knees up into your chest – How far you actually want to pull your legs up is totally up to you, but the higher your feet go, the higher your board will go too. By the way, the highest recorded preferred stance ollie-pop is 45 inches, done by Aldrin Garcia, and the highest switch stance ollie-pop is 40.125 inches, by Gavin Caperton. And if you’re going for endurance rather than height, the record for most consecutive hops is held by Rob Dyrdek, who did 215 of them in a row on his TV show Rob and Big. So those give you something to shoot for.
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Smile and wave – Feel free to look around at all the other people at the skatepark that stood by and marveled at your new-found accomplishments (all one of them). I’m sure by this point you’ll be picking up roses that are being thrown at your feet, and taking a well-deserved bow as they begin to chant your name. Take it all in, thank the crowd for their undying affection, and then go get a snow-cone. You deserve it, champ.