The kickflip is a skateboarding trick, in which the rider flips their skateboard 360° along the axis that extends from the nose to the tail of the deck. When the rider is regular footed the board spins counter-clockwise if viewed from the side.
It was the first of many modern tricks to be invented by Rodney Mullen in the early 1980s, and it opened the door to contemporary concepts of board sports wherein the board and rider separate then re-join. In March 2011, Zoltan "The Magician" Torkos was credited to land the first kickflip on a surfboard.
In the 1970s freestyle skateboarders learned to flip the board over beneath them by lifting a rail edge of the board–and flipping it without any leverage of the tail. While the board flipped completely over, the technique employed no upward force, and the setup required the rider to stand with both feet facing the nose. Any connection to the contemporary kickflip is conceptual, since the two tricks employ radically different riding styles on boards that do not have comparable functional features.
In 1982 Rodney Mullen invented the modern form of the trick in Massachusetts, initially naming it the "Ollie Flip"; the term "Magic Flip" was popularized by other skaters who could not figure out how Mullen was flipping his board. The kickflip employs many of the same techniques that Alan Gelfand discovered when he created the technique for the ollie, but Gelfand's ollie unifies the board and rider using both feet in a single reaction of force and counterforce wherein board and rider bounce into the air and come back down in unison. Mullen's kickflip separates the board and rider using both feet in opposing reactions of force and counterforce wherein the rider flicks, the board flips, and the rider catches it only returning to unison in the downward arc of the trick.
This technique of separating the board and rider became a tremendous amount of the vernacular of street skaters–and later vert skaters–introducing skateboarding to the era of flip tricks, many of which Rodney Mullen also created. Many of the skaters credited with defining skate culture, and discovering how to use flip tricks in a contemporary manner–Daewon Song, Ronnie Creager, Kareem Campbell, Enrique Lorenzo, JB Gillet–were sponsored by Mullen's company World Industries.
To perform a kickflip, the rider ollies into the air, and lifts the back foot from the board while simultaneously sliding the front foot off the skateboard diagonally forward and towards the heel of the foot. This front foot motion, sometimes called "the flick", spins the board, flipping it completely over. Before landing, the rider stops the spin by returning the feet to the board as it nears its original position.
The board revolves around its longitudinal axis, like an aileron roll. To understand this motion and the direction of rotation, imagine stepping backwards off of a skateboard, leaving it in front of you, then rolling it over on the ground toward you; during the kickflip, the board spins similarly, but in mid-air beneath the rider. During a heelflip, a similar trick, where the riders front foot slides their heel toward the opposite side that they would with a kick flip resulting in a rotation of the board opposite to the kick flip.
Once a skateboarder masters the kickflip, many variations are possible: