What are rail and box tricks?
Skateboarders use boxes and rails to perform tricks on. These tricks can include: ollying onto a box and riding across the top, manualing across the top, using your trucks to grind the edge or “coping” of a box, grinding a metal rail that is elevated off of the ground, or boardsliding a rail. That’s just a basic list of tricks; they get more complicated as skateboarders tweak the angle at which they are performed, or add tricks to the beginning or end, the options are truly limitless. Check out the video below to see some examples!
As an aspiring skateboarder, you’re most likely eager to learn some rail and box tricks. These tricks are very cool looking and definitely bump of your skate cred. After dedicating many hours to skateboarding, I’ve learned a few simple secrets that will help you stick these tricks in no time.
Get the basics down first
Before you can move on to grinding boxes and rails, you must master the basics. But don’t worry, there’s only a couple basic tricks you must absolutely know, so don’t let that discourage you. Chances are if you’re reading this you can already perform the tricks you need to know.
The three tricks you must already know are the ollie, the 180, and the manual. The ollie is important to have down pat, as boxes and rails are elevated off of the ground and you must know how to hop or “ollie” on to them in order to get into position for your trick. The 180 is also important because you must know how to manipulate your board into the correct angle of the trick. The boardslide for instance, is a rail trick that requires you to ollie, turn 90 degrees in the air, and then slide across the rail with the middle of your board. Lastly, the skill that you get from learning manual is used for tricks in which only the front trucks or the back trucks are used. A nose grind for instance, is when you ollie on to a box or rail and press on the nose of your board in order to lift your back trucks up in the air, causing only your front trucks to grind out the trick. If you have these three basic tricks down, you’re well on your way to learning box and rail tricks. Time to learn the next secret.
Speed Speed Speed!
Something that I didn’t realize for a very long time is that speed is so important when performing flat land tricks, but even more so for grinds. Often times skaters will try to perform tricks at a slow speed because they’re afraid to fall. Going slow is actually more of a hindrance than a help. This is largely due to the fact that speed helps with balance. Think of it like riding a bike. The slower you’re riding, the more you have to move the front wheel back and forth to keep balance. Whereas when you’re going faster the momentum of the bike keeps that wheel in line. Same holds true for skateboarding. The faster you’re rolling, the less you have to focus on keeping your board moving straight, and the more you can focus on the details of the trick. This is even truer for grinding because it involves balance on a smaller surface area. If you’re having trouble grinding, pick up your speed, and I guarantee you’ll find success.
"But I'm afraid of falling!"
A side note
If fear is holding you back, re-read the last paragraph. In case you missed it, an increase in speed makes it easier to balance which reduces the risk of falling. Therefore, you’re hurting yourself more, and falling more, when riding at a slower speed. Additionally, just like anything else in life, if you want to master something you must not be afraid to fall or fail. No one is perfect, and it takes failure to get better. Finally and most importantly, wear a helmet and pads if you want. They greatly reduce the risk of injury and add confidence to your riding.
Do the whole thing!
Another major mistake beginner’s make when trying to grind a rail or do some type of box trick is that they will only do the last portion of the rail or box. This leads me to my last tip: do the whole thing! Too many riders wimp out when it comes to grinding an entire rail because, once again, they’re afraid of falling. Little do they know that grinding the end of a rail (or “kissing” a rail) is only making things harder and increasing the chances of falling. This is primarily because it shortens your time to set up for dismounting the rail. Think about it, if you’re only grinding the last foot of the rail, and moving at a quick speed, you literally have about one second to ollie on the rail, grind it, set up to push off the rail, and land back on the board. It’s too much for you to process at once, and you’re most likely going to trip up and fall. By grinding the entire rail you allow yourself more time to prepare for the dismount, increase the time you have to focus on each part of the trick, and increase your odds of successfully dismounting. Additionally, the increase in speed required to grind the entire rail will help with balancing during the trick, as previously mentioned. Next time you’re practicing your rail or box tricks, try the whole thing, and see what happens!
Put simply, the three secrets of performing rail and box tricks are: know the basics first, increase your speed, and do the whole thing. If you stick to these three secrets you will greatly increase your odds of landing new tricks. So go out, practice, and as always, have fun!