Tony Hawk Reveals 21 Levels of Skateboarding

WIRED challenged skateboarding legend Tony Hawk to go through 21 levels of skateboarding difficulty, which he does, sharing his opinion as well as tips throughout.

Hawk starts out with the most basic movement—the Ollie. But don’t let its simplicity fool you. “Ollies are the foundation to almost every skate trick. There’s hardly any tricks that you can think of that don’t start with an Ollie first. So, if you’re going to start skating, that’s going to be the first trick that you learn,” states Hawk. Hawk then moves up in complexity to a Frontside 180 Ollie and then to a Backside 180 Ollie.

21 Levels of Skateboarding with Tony Hawk

Hawk continues through the video, breaking down each trick and providing insights into how to complete each. A key to many, if not all of the tricks is commitment.

Hawk shares that holding back keeps people from being able to do the trick. “I find like some people find a trick that they’re comfortable with and that becomes their go-to even though it might be a few levels above what might be basic,” explains Hawk. “A perfect example is my son Spencer. He doesn’t skate regularly but when he does skate, he can do Frontside Pop Shove Its easily, clean, catches them high. And it’s just like this muscle memory he has, which is fascinating to me because mine are terrible.”

Hawk also takes the video to the ramp to show Vert tricks. As the video moves up in complexity, Hawk employs videos of tricks that he’s filmed previously. It’s a dazzling display of his master of the board. Hawk finishes off the videos by moving to a taller Vert ramp—the Mega Ramp—to hit the 1080. Only two people have done it. “It’s still one of the most difficult, biggest milestones in skateboarding as far as I’m concerned,” says Hawk. Level 19 comes in with a Heelflip 720.

“For these next levels of complexities, I think we’re going to go into the realm of unreality, because these are NBDs, which means they’ve never been done, but we know as skaters of this ilk that they are possible,” says Hawk of the final two levels—an Ollie 720 on Transition and a 1260 spin. “Skateboarding at its base is a form of expression, and for me it is my art form,” says Hawk to close the video. It’s an art form that he’s mastered well.

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Mark Jessen

Mr Mark Jessen

Mark Jessen studied English at Brigham Young University, completing a double emphasis in creative writing and professional writing/editing. After graduating, Mark went to work for a small publisher as their book editor. After a brief time as a freelance writer, Mark entered the corporate world as a copywriter. These days, his hours are spent mostly in proofing and editing, though he continues to create content for a wide variety of projects. In 2017, Mark completed UCLA's Creative Writing Certification. A prolific writer, Mark has over 20 years of experience in journalism.