Tricks That Win Freestyle Scooter Competitions

Tricks That Win Freestyle Scooter Competitions

Check out these tips and tricks for impressing the judges at your next freestyle scooter competition!

I might not be a scooter rider, but I've been around enough scooter competitions to know what kind of performances are successful. In fact, you can watch other sports, such as skateboarding, BMX, inline skating, and freestyle motocross and learn about things that score well with judges. I suspected that scootering was no different and, over the last 3 years, I've seen first-hand that my suspicions were correct from big competetions like CooterCon, the Razor Exposed Tour, and the Epic Jam to smaller competitions like our own NW Scoot events.

As we prepare for the RDM Summer Classic, I've been thinking about this a lot and talking to my scooter kid and his friends about the topic, so I thought I'd share some of those thoughts with our readers.

How can you put on an impressive performance at your next freestyle scooter competition? Some of these tips can be done on the day of the event and some of them need to be done in advance. While this article is specifically about competing, try to think about how these tips can improve your overall scooter riding and experience and try to apply them everyday. These ideas can even act as good positive-reinforcement topics for you and your friends.

Alright, that's enough preamble. It's time for the meat of this article!

Be Prepared! Be Prepared!

One of the most important things you can do before a competition is to get prepared. Usually, when I say "be prepared", I'm referring to having your scooter tuned up, having replacement parts and tools ready, having drinks to keep hydrated and shade to stay cool, getting a good night's sleep the night before, and so on. However, in the context of this article, I want to emphasize preparing your tricks for the competition. What I mean is, don't show up to the event thinking you can pull of a trick that you've just barely learned or can only land one out of ten tries. If you can't land it 75% of the time, it's not ready for a competition. If you're having trouble landing it at your local park when riding with friends, you're sure not going to land it under the pressure of a competition at a new park. Get your tricks ready and forget about those that are not ready just yet. Save them for your next video or event.

Another key factor in being prepared is learning the park as fast as possible. During your warm ups, try out all of the transitions, drop-ins, gaps, ledges, rails...anything you might want to throw into your run. You might have your run planned and realize that you're done with it in 30 seconds. "Oh no! I'm done with my planned run and I still have 30 seconds! What do I do now?!?!"  Now it's time to improvise, but if you don't know the park well, you may not have as many options. Learn the park. Learn it in both directions on each obstacle. Focus on mastering obstacles and building lines, not learning new tricks. If you need to practice your 360-bri-flips for an hour to get them dialed, then they aren't ready. Save them for the next event. Use the pre-competition time to create and practice your lines at the park.

The Air Up There

This one is pretty simple: you need more air. No matter how much air you are getting on your tricks, you need more. :) Well, maybe not, but probably. Unless you are clearing everything with tons of air, you need more air. For the people reading this article, I can almost guarantee that you need more air, unless you're having moderate success in the pro division at competitions.

To achieve big air, you need two things. First, you need the right body positioning for the type of air you're trying to catch. If your body is stiff, you'll follow the contour of the ramp (i.e. quarterpipes will kick you straight up for lots of height, but not much distance). If you want to go for distance, you need to work on conserving your forward momentum by trying to absorb the kick of the ramp. To do this, be loose, flexible, and let the scooter come "into" you as you move through the face of the jump so you project your momentum forward rather than straight up. It's easier said than done and someone else might be able to explain it better than I can and it's probably enough for it's own article. The second thing you need for big air is...

88 Miles Per Hour!!

SPEED! That's the other thing you need for big air. Actually, you need it for pretty much everything. Speed will help you get big air, clear gaps and make transfers, and grind smoother and farther. The faster you move during your run, the more time you have for more tricks! Even when you're moving from one trick to the next, don't just coast; push hard the entire time you're competing. You only have a 1 minute run (usually), so go as hard as you can the entire time. Don't waste time putzing around the course.

The other advantage speed gives you is that it shows the judges that you're serious and confident. You want to be out there. You want to use every second of your run to show them what you can do. Speed lets you hit more tricks and shows that you're aggressive.

"My Scooter is Dialed, I've Got Style for Miles"

This one is actually pretty difficult to write about because it's so intangible: style. Everyone has some kind of style, even if it's a...well, we'll say "less desirable style". You don't want to look like a fish that just landed on the deck of a boat, flopping around, gasping for air. Here are a few tips for presenting your best style to the judges:

  • The more you practice your tricks, the smoother you'll be and the more comfortable you will be. Spend time on your tricks so you look like you didn't just learn them yesterday.
     
  • Don't ride new parts that you aren't used to; your scooter should feel like a favorite hoody when you're at a competition. You don't want to be competing on new parts that feel awkward.
     
  • Speaking of hoodies, wear presentable, comfortable clothes and gear when you compete. If you're sponsored, wear the shirt or gear your sponsor wants you to wear. If you're not sponsored, try to wear a scooter-related shirt so you look like this isn't your first rodeo. Maybe you'll even be mistaken for a sponsored rider!
     
  • Smile! :) Your persona is a big part of your style. If you look like you're having a good time, that affects your style and impression on the judges. Don't hang your head like a grumpamus. Don't throw a fit if you fall on a trick. Your attitude is the biggest factor in your presentation to the judges; therefore, it's the most important part of your style.

Another good tip for working on your style is to video tape yourself and then analyze your recording. If you can't see how you look while executing your tricks, then it might be hard to work on your style. It's hard to define, but it's something that is uniquely YOU, so do your best to present good style to the judges.

Combination Nation

Now that you've got the air, speed, and style, start putting together some combos! They don't even have to be super complex combos or extremely difficult tricks. A 360-no-footer stands out more than just a 360. A feeble-to-270-out will make a much bigger impression on the judges than a feeble alone. Combinations are part of the creative mentality you need to have. Just be careful to find a balance between adding combos that you can land and trying to do too much. It's better to throw a trick you can land than try a trick you can't. Be consistent and land as many tricks as you can. Notice that I said "land" rather than "throw" in that last line.

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off...and Don't Repeat

A couple of years ago, in the beginner finals at an event, my scooter kid tried a trick he just learned. He didn't land it, so he kept trying over and over again. He got hung up on one failure and burned up his entire run trying to land a single big trick. This was a tough lesson to learn, but a very important one for his scooter competition career. If you fall, get up fast and keep going. Don't waste time feeling bad about your crash, just keep going. The idea is to be as consistent as possible; consistency scores high with judges.

Unless you are certain that you can land the trick you just missed, give it up. If you want to try it again, see if you can incorporate it into your run later. Unless it's the very last trick in your run, don't go immediately back and try to land it again. You'll end up burning time and, if you can't land it the second time, you'll start looking panicked and desperate. Shake it off and keep going with your run, doing your very best. The judges know that not everyone will land everything, but they don't want to see you waste your entire run on one trick.

Similarly, don't waste time by repeating the same trick over and over again, even if it's on different obstacles. I recently watched a kid who was really good, but he threw inward bri-flips on almost every obstacle. The first inward was impressive, but after the second, third, fourth, fifth...it became less impressive and I wanted to see something else. Try to throw a variety of tricks, as broad as you can, with very little, if any, repetition. This will help you look like you have a wide portfolio of tricks to draw from rather than just 3 or 4 that you have to repeat.

Attitude Is Everything

If you're a frequent reader of ScooterDad.com, you'll see a trend throughout many of my articles: attitude. Years ago, I had a Fox Racing hat that read "ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING"; Even as a kid I believed this and I still do to this day. It's hard to have a great attitude every day, but on competition day, you must have a good attitude, even if you have to fake it. Judges, sponsors, spectators, friends, family, teammates, everyone wants to see you perform while you're having a good time and acting professional. Treat the course, your equipment, fellow riders, spectators, event staff, and judges with respect and kindness during the event. While you're actually on the course competing, do your best to portray a good, positive, confident attitude and that will trickle on to the judges' score cards.

Putting It All Together

So now that you're going fast and throwing combos that you're landing with style, all while smiling and having a good time, well...you still might not win and that's just the nature of competing. You can't worry about other riders, but you can focus on doing the very best you can, and that's what is important. Do your best and have fun! Also, I heard that judges score riders higher if they are rocking a ScooterDad sticker or some ScooterDad Scoot Loot...but that might be just a rumor. ;)


Comments

hey im 13 years old and i can inward, bri air, triple whip, finger whip, and a bunch of grind combos. I have been riding for 6 months and I am unsponsored. My local skatepark, Allen Skatepark in Allen,TX, has a comp coming up and i wanna enter..... Which division should I enter in???

If they have beginner divided into age divisions, try to ride the older age division (usually divided at 12). They might bump you up. If it's just beginner, intermediate/am, pro, then you'll have to see how steep the competition is, but you're probably intermediate.

By Kenny

Scooter Dad, I want to shout out a Big Thank you from myself as a Scooter mom, my son picked up his first scooter nearly two yrs. ago after a hard transition in our lives, his father passed away, scootering brought him out of his isolation and Into meeting new friends and into the sport he has fallen in love with, his scooter is never far away from him. Your advice and direction will for sure be very helpful to myself and my son. He has won and placed in several near by comps. And placed 6th out of 15 riders during this yrs ISA comp at Ohio Dreams. He recently attended a wk at Ohio Dreams, he won best trick and most improved while at camp and was told he would be sponsored by Vault. What exactly will this mean and what can we expect in being sponsered. How do we find out about more comps. I have suscribed with ISA newsletter in hopes it will help. Thank you again for the awesome advice and article. FYI he is 13. Sincerely, A Scooter Mom

By Arlene K Nickless (not verified)

Hey Arlene,

I'm really happy to hear that scootering has helped your son and I'm terribly sorry to hear about your loss. I know how devastating it is to lose a parent far too early.

Congratulations to your son! That is all very exciting news. His hard work, dedication, and love for the sport are all paying off. Regarding the sponsorship deal with The Vault Pro Scooters, those kinds of deals all very. Some sponsors have multiple teams, like Pro and Flow (Amateur). Pro riders would get full parts deals, sometimes travel, and sometimes cash. Flow riders typically get parts or some parts and discounts. It's all up to the individual sponsor. I've spoken with Nicole at The Vault before via email (admin@thevaultproscooters.com), so maybe she can help you. You should definitley be in contact with the sponsor, as a parent, to know the details of the sponsorship including expectations on both ends of the deal. Scooter sponsorship is often informal and confusing to kids who don't fully understand the purpose of a sponsorship deal.

As for how to find more competitions, all I can say is follow as many scooter-related resources as you can on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and watch the blogs (I use RSS to keep up on the postings). The ISA is a great resource, but they don't always know about all comps that aren't ISA-sanctioned. It's just a matter of being plugged into the community, which can be tough.

Good luck! :)

Kenny

By Kenny

Hello Scooterdad, I am 14 years old and don't know if I should go to intermediate or beginners for a comp. My local skate park is Allen TX, this will be my first comp. I need to know what division I should be in. I can almost Bri air, ialmost inward, I can finger whip, double whip, lots of grind combos, whip-bar, etc.? What do you think?

By Riley Boren (not verified)

It sounds like you're right on the edge between beginner and intermediate, so it's hard to say without seeing you ride. Talk to the staff when you register, if you can, and ask them what they think. You can always register as a beginner and then move up to intermediate. Also, they might bump you up if they think you are too good for beginner after seeing your first run. Good luck!

By Kenny

First competition

Hello, I am a 15 year old scooter rider from a small skatepark. I can do many 360 tricks ( 360 bar, 360 tuck, 360 down whip), tail whips (1,2 and 3), bar spins (1,2) , grinds and a few combos (bar whip, bar clamp grab,). I have my first competition in 4 days but I'm definitely not confident with my tricks and so I'm wondering what division I would fit into?

By Callan (not verified)

I didn't see bri-flip in your list of tricks, so unless you're going really big, beginner is probably the right division for you. The bri-flip is sometimes considered a gateway trick for intermediate, at least it used to be. More and more beginners are doing bri-flips now, but I would tend to bump those riders up to intermediate.

By Kenny

Hi there we live in Canada in a smallish town...my son just turned 10 and completely eats sleeps breathes scootering! He has already mastered tailwhips, double tailwhips, grind combos, foot jam 180's, 360's, airs, hang 5's, mannys, deck taps and his latest accomplishment:BRI's!!! What should I do to advance his passion at this point? He has already surpassed most of the kids in town far older than him!!

By Starr (not verified)

The best thing you can do for him is to get him to ride with people who are better than him. He'll learn from them and gain experience much faster than if he rides by himself. Unfortuantely, for many people, that means traveling. Take weekend trips or day trips to skate parks within a few hours of your home. Plan summer vacations around visiting numerous skate parks in more populous areas. We've taken several trips to California and Arizona to ride different parks and learn from different riders.

If traveling isn't an option, try to help him find videos on YouTube where he can learn new tricks and techniques from watching other riders. Have him study their tricks as much as possible, then try to learn those same tricks and techniques next time he goes to the park.

The last, and probably most expensive option, is to find a way to build your own practice facility. We leased a storage facility and put a mini half-pipe and some other ramps in it so our kid could ride year round. As I said, it's expensive, but probably not any more expensive than supporting a kid into competitive hockey or skiing, for example.

By Kenny

Hi scooter dad I'm 11 and I've been scootering for 1 and a half years I can tail whip 360 barspin and lots of other tricks usually at the skate park I just mess around with my friends and play scoot or call the shots I want to get into freestyle scootering do you have any tips

By Alex webber (not verified)

Ride hard, don't give up, ride with people better than you, and travel to new parks and meet new people! :)

By Kenny