Too many tricks to learn

My number one piece of advice for anyone interested in pursuing tricking as a hobby, (who is already in half decent shape), is to pick just one trick and to work only on it. Forget everything else. Give it as much time as it needs. The backflip is perfect for this, because everyone loves the backflip. If you can’t backflip, and you want it bad enough, train it 3 times a week until you get it. Nothing else. Go.


Can you do a backflip?

Now, it’s true tricking has an unforgivably steep learning curve for beginners, so advice like this isn’t always helpful, because people get discouraged and then give up. It can take months to learn any one trick whether you’re experienced or not. In the past, this was the only reason any aspiring trickster would give up. But today, the modern novice trickster will give up not only because of this discouragement, but also because of distraction. For those outside looking in, trying to make sense of modern tricking is like trying to make sense of a cluttered desktop.


Nowadays, this is what tricking looks like from the outside in.

When I started tricking there were only about one dozen tricks. I’m actually serious! Getting into tricking was really easy back then because you could learn the names of every one of these tricks and know who was who in the tricking world in like half an hour. It’s hard to believe, but this was what the tricking world was like back then. It was small. I mean, there was actually no such thing as a swing through! And corks were a rarity! Back then, new tricks were invented at the glacial rate of, oh, I don’t know, a few per year? I want you to think about all of this for one moment, think about this pretty hard:

If you lived in the kind of tricking world I just described, how would you train?


This logo used to be the doorstep of the ENTIRE tricking universe.

Clear your desktop

I have a lot of respect for new tricksters these days, there are just too many tricks to learn. Too many styles and niches. It’s a lot harder getting into tricking nowadays because of the sheer number of choices. Discouragement walks hand in hand with distraction now. My advice to anybody outside the tricking world looking in: pick just one, basic, popular trick and learn it. Don’t pick some weird trick like a donut boy or a spyder. Pick a back flip or a 540 kick. Don’t pick more than one trick. Because failing two tricks turns into failing three tricks turns into failing five tricks turns into failing twelve tricks. This doesn’t mean just keep crashing it the same way: break it down into prerequisite movements and work on progression drills, but make sure they are all leading up to that one trick. Be very disciplined about all this. Because if you can’t even do that one trick, you can’t do any tricks. Diversify? No, don’t do that, it won’t work yet. Diversification doesn’t work until you can do lots of tricks very well, at which point it’s essential. But when you are just starting you need to get past that steep learning curve before you diversify. You’ll get past that steep learning curve when you can actually do one trick well. Then another trick. Then another trick. You’ll have fun and succeed with tricking not when you continue failing one hundred at a time, but when you begin owning one at a time. So clear your desktop. Get to work.


Remember this: when you decide and commit to learning a trick at the expense of time spent on other tricks: the grass is not greener on the other side… And man I would LOVE to trick on this grass!


34 Replies to “Too many tricks to learn”

  1. Jon Call says:

    It’s spring in the northern hemispheres, the start of tricking season, you have many potential months of productivity ahead of you. This could be the year you finally learn a few tricks. And still fall in the southern hemispheres, your best weather of the year, don’t let it go to waste!

  2. Josiah says:

    Hahaha, it took me many months to get a backflip. Probably because I never gave myself a chance to recover. I tried it relentlessly. Fail after fail everyday. I should of only gone 3x a week. Oh well, I learned that I need to trick more for the fun of it rather than to die trying to get a new stupid trick. If tricking is not fun, then you’re doing it wrong I guess.

  3. Jon Call says:

    This is true, but the irony is that tricking is most fun when you can actually do tricks. 🙂

  4. Josiah says:

    True, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that people should laugh at their fails rather than get down about it. I believe seriousness is still important through.

  5. Ted says:

    This is good advice, as a parkour peep, trying to get a few decent tricks under my belt has been consistently undermined by trying to learn too many at once. For the last month or two I’ve solely focused on learning to b-twist and front flip, it has worked so much better, and I can now do 2 tricks well, as opposed to 10+ not at all.

  6. Claire says:

    “Martial Arts TRICKZ” is in Arial. Tsk, tsk…

    I think you could include learning as basic of tricks as you can to even the learning curve. Maybe start with basic gymnastics moves. Learn rolls and handstands, then cartwheels, then round-offs, aerials (but not Arial!), and so on. Then maybe a b-kick. Tricking’s way more fruitful if you learn that way, rather than starting off with a backflip.

    I’m a skateboarder. I like to start my sessions with a few stationary tricks — ollies, 180s, shove-its. Then warm up to ollieing over things, half cabs, and pop shove-its. I do this every single session. Only after that do I go after new tricks. For me, it’s the frontside shove-it and the heelflip. I know the front shove is the next trick to land, but I play with a heelflip, too, just to get a taste.

    I love reading about tricking and dabbling it it too, because so much of it applies to skateboarding.

  7. Andrea Rodolfo Nadia says:

    It is very true that sometimes one of the reasons we don’t progress is because we try too many things at a time, but I don’t know if I would recommend to a complete beginner to just choose ONE random trick and train that until he lands it, because… well, sounds weird, but he could choose THE WRONG TRICK! And by that I mean a trick he may just not be ready for.

    Personal experience: the first trick I ever wanted was the Aerial. It took me 3 years on and off to land it. (Yes, I’m quite ungifted, if you ask me) Had I based my tricking motivation solely on my capacity to learn THAT ONE trick I didn’t understand, I would have quit out of frustration. Luckily, within the other tricks I decided to try, I happened to land some within my capacity, and that gave me the motivation to keep up and eventually try again and land the first trick I wanted.

    So, honestly, I have no idea what the solution to the problem could be. XD

  8. Andrea Rodolfo Nadia says:

    “If tricking is not fun, then you’re doing it wrong I guess”

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that there’s nothing fun in trying to learn a musical instrument without being able to get a single note right. This whole idea we perpetrate that tricking HAS to be fun is quite naive to me. Tricking can be damn frustrating at times and we should aknowledge that. There’s nothing wrong, it’s perfectly normal.

  9. Josiah says:

    Andrea, that definitely is true as I admitted before, but if you get too frustrated with yourself, you may find yourself demotivated to keep tricking.

  10. Josiah says:

    Maybe people get too caught up in the fact that this or that person landed an aerial for example in 3 weeks. Tricking takes a long time. It inspires me to read stroies of people taking up to a few years to perfectly land a new trick. It shows that the reality of new tricks on average takes a few months to get. Some get the trick naturally, and some need to put a lot more effort into it for some reason.

  11. Vova says:

    Wow this actually is perfect timing…I just got to thinking what tricks I should start with again since I’m rusty. Guess I’ll try mastering backflip.

  12. Vova says:

    Josiah this summer we will make all kinds of tricking gainzzzzz!

  13. Sebastián says:

    I love this article. And damn the bilang site was the shit back then… and yes INDEED tricking has changed a lot! Now I rarely see the 540 – spin crescent kick – aerial combo that you could see everywhere 10+ years ago 😀

    Last week, some dudes were trying to teach me a backflip, I think I will land it after a few more sessions. And I really want 540 and/or aerial this year… and it’s thanks to YOU, Juji, that I’m actually able to expect so (injury feeling better and better). Rock on!

  14. Juho says:

    I agree.. Unfortunately I’m pretty good with the modern terminology but I’ld rather not to be because knowing all these tricks, setups, variations and transitions are driving me crazy! I’m waiting for dry grass and warm weathers aswell! I’m so going to spend my time doing shitloads of reps for all the basic tricks and right after that keep drilling them even more.

  15. Josiah says:

    Vova, this is the summer where we will annihilate all the basic tricks!

  16. Traindom says:

    I agree. When I was first learning how to play the guitar, it was frustrating as hell. I wanted to quit. But after some time went by as I practiced, I got to a level where I could actually enjoy it. When I would learn a new piece, the difficulty was there, the challenge of playing the notes right, but being better equipped to do so made it less frustrating act and more of an enjoyable grind.

    I believe that the idea that something has to be fun can become really distorted easily in learning skills. The initial learning curve is where stuff really sucks. I think that it isn’t until you start seeing some results that you get inspired to do more and then get even more inspired to the point that it feels more fun, even if still challenging. It’s a fun challenge.

    1. Jon Call says:

      +1 to you. And +1 for all the others with the same sentiment.

  17. Jack says:

    Is raw milk worth it?

  18. o says:

    Hi juji my name is o and I have a question. I have been tricking for a few months and I have been noticing that I have been losing tricks such as 540 and gainers. Do you have any advice on regain lost skills and getting out of a slump.

    1. Jon Call says:

      Yes. Take a backoff week if you have been training regularly. And… If you have only been training about 2 days per week, it’s common to see performance fluctuate more wildly. Increase training frequency if that’s the case. Most of the time slumps can be overcome by switching to a lower or higher frequency, or changing your goal, as Sinjin states below: he worked on weight lifting for a few months instead of tricking and saw some good results.

  19. Sinjin says:


    Hah jk that’s like 90% of advice on forums.
    I had never landed a 540 kick after several years of free running and tricking. I took this last December and January off because I was plateauing, started up lifting gratuitously since February and landed it for the first time two weeks ago. Front squats, back squats, power cleans all helped rebuild strength in my legs and improve my old skills. I like Juji’s idea of periodization.

    Tl;dr lift weights and use strength to make your jumps explosive

    1. Jon Call says:

      Sinjin. What were your lifts before and after this period?

  20. o says:

    I train about 3 times a week and I also am a year round long distances runner so I tend to trick after doing runs. How should I manage this fatigue

  21. Sinjin says:

    Juji. My main priority right now is school. As such I haven’t been very discplined in recording my progress

    That said,
    Last summer dead lift – 365
    Current front squat – 245
    Power clean – 225

    I’m 6′ and 77 kg. not quite acrobolix status

  22. Very good article! The principles can essentially be taken for everything else in training or life. Focus and get good at one thing, then progress to the next. The fun thing is, that the more things you are going to be good at, the easier it will normally get, to learn and become good at new things, because what you learned before will have a carryover to what you’re going to learn.

    Thank you and keep this as awesome as it already is!

    1. Jon Call says:

      Exactly what you said here “the more things you are going to be good at, the easier it will normally get, to learn and become good at new things, because what you learned before will have a carryover to what you’re going to learn.”

      In regards to carryover you hit the nail on the head: carryover actually “works” when you’re getting carryover from something you’ve “gotten the hang of” or “mastered” … it doesn’t work for something you have only tried a few times and failed at or have never really gotten that good at.

  23. STEVE YEAH! says:

    God i’d love to get back into tricking. I make up too many excuses. This summer I will damnit!!!

    1. Jon Call says:

      Spring is good too! 😉

  24. STEVE YEAH! says:

    Also! I have two questions.. question one.. how’s the E-book coming??? ..question two.. can you give me more insight into you’re overall weight lifting program.. change of program.. day to day.. week to week?.. Just an idea of it or something? You’re freakin huge & ripped and I want to be that huge & ripped. You have big articles on nutrition which is like 70% of the battle.. just wanna know more about your lifting too. Thanks <3

    1. Jon Call says:

      E-book = February-March I wrote most of the text. May I get the pictures. June I put the pictures into my text. July I rework it from there. August I format and determine best way to release it. September I release it. That’s my plan at the moment and it’s going so far. I’d be okay with releasing it before November, but there’s no reason for me to keep delaying really…

      For your question about my lifting. The past few years I’ve focused primarily on my weaknesses (arms and chest). Bad genetics for these parts, I put in lots of work here. Lots of curl, tricep extension variations. Lots of “arm” workouts. My back and legs my genetics are average. I enjoy working them but know I don’t need to do much there. And since I also like deadlifting for deadlifting’s sake, and ring training for ring’s sake, those are great for back work… So day to day, week to week it’s almost always upper body day, I don’t do legs hardly at all. I use them to trick not to leg press, squat etc… Although I’m strong here regardless… Anyway I need to work hard to bring up these weaknesses, my strengths typically take care of themselves.

  25. STEVE YEAH! says:

    Spring is def good too! (here come my excuses haha)

    Oh sweet. Okay cool. Thanks for letting me know how that process with the e-book was going. Sounds like you have a solid plan for whats going on with it.

    That makes sense. My weak areas are chest, back, shoulder, and calves ahaha. Luckily arms have been good to me most of my life. Sleeveless shirts bab-ay! Legs are thick too. Just everything else is a pain to grow. Chest mostly. You gave me some great tips for chest before though! Back gets defined but never wide. Yeah i’m super critical, but I know what I want damnit!!!!!!$%^&%^&

    Oh yeah and when you get a chance.. please put up a new vid on youtube. Missin your vids mang!

  26. RadenMan says:

    Awesome article juji

  27. Jorge Roos (kkmultes) says:

    I think you can practice kicks before something like a backflip, in order to be a good “tricker” you have to be a good kicker, and its more safe and easy to progress. if you are a starter.

  28. kobi says:

    I was lucky to have been in capoeira for a year and a half before starting tricking so i learned back handsprings and backflips before i knew they were hard. And turning my capoeira tornato into a 540 wasnt too hard.
    Now ive only beem tricking for 2 months but i can do a lot of the basics already. Now im drilling the basick kicks which are different than what i know, and i work a lot on my twists.

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