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Physics in Skateboarding: The Ollie

The ollie is a skateboard trick that is used to launch over and onto obstacles. It is the basis on which many other tricks have been formed. This trick is performed by simply putting pressure on the back of the board to lift it off the ground, and then leveling the board out. When it is performed the board seems to stick to the feet of the skater, but this is not the case. The ollie seems to defy the laws of physics, however it actually uses these laws to its advantage.

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To get a further explanation of this trick, click this link and select the ollie video

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This is a picture from Thrasher skateboard magazine of a skateboarder using the ollie to launch over a building gap.

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When a skateboarder sets up for an ollie several forces are in effect. These forces are illustrated in the free body diagram to the left. All of these forces add up to equal zero, so there is no net force. This  means that the skateboarder is at a constant velocity. Also, the sum of all the torques on the board is zero so there is no angular acceleration.