bails and slams

the art of bailing (or slamming) skateboard tricks

Bails and slams are a natural part of skateboarding – a big part, actually. A skate bail is not landing a skateboard trick on purpose to not slam and get hurt. That means you are jumping off, maybe rolling off, before you seriously fall. A skate slam in contrast is an unintended, rather uncontrolled fall, which often is going to hurt.

If you are taking skateboarding seriously you are going to fall, no matter what. But you can prevent getting badly injured:

Rolling up to the trick…

  • The first one is simple – wear safety gear. This might not be the coolest thing to do but is actually what prevents you best from injuries.
  • Wear skateshoes with air or gel padded soles – this can save you from serious heel bruise. Hi-top skateshoes might prevent you from twisting your ankle.
  • Learn to do tricks properly on flatground before banging them down a set of stairs.
  • Sweep and dry the run-up and landing at the spot – nothing ends worse than a tiny stone unexpectedly levering you down an 8 foot gap.
  • Build up to your trick: Before nollie-360°-flipping the gap, ollie it first, then nollie it, nollie kickflip it and build up until you feel 100% comfortable with the trick you actually want to do.
  • If you get even slightly out of balance while riding up to your trick step off the board, go back and try again.
  • When jumping stairs or gaps it is advisable to go a bit faster than you think you should.
  • Always try to catch and land tricks with your feet over the bolts, and your weight centered. If you don’t you might not only break your deck but break some bones too.
  • Never land a trick with your weight just on one foot – you end up doing the splits, driving the board into your ankle or kicking it into your family jewels.

Bailing on flatground

With flatground tricks you do usually not have the height and time to kick your board away. Hence do not attempt to land a trick if you are not feeling it. But if you stick to your trick, land primo (with the board on the edge) or sideways and fall it mainly comes down to a reflex. There is not much you can do but most likely you won’t break anything. Try to crouch down so you don’t have too high to fall. You may absorb the fall with your hands and (bent!) arms.

Bailing down stairs, gaps or ledges

The height makes it more serious but when going off stair sets, gaps or ledges you actually have more time to prepare for the skateboard bail:

  • Get that board out of the way, kick it to the side.
  • Always try to land on your feet first and bend your knees to absorb as much impact as possible. Never catch your full bodyweight with your arms as you can easily break hands or wrists.
  • Squat and try to roll immediately over your shoulder. Tuck in your chin to protect your head. It helps if you pretend to be a martial arts fighter and practice the roll on soft, flat ground.
  • If you slam on your back keep your head on your chest and try to protect it with your hands – avoid hitting your head at all costs!