Physics of the Ollie Skateboard Move


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Missing figures

Brief History of Skateboarding.

In the beginning, skateboarding consisted of a 2x4 and some old roller-skate wheels. Around the 1950's with the boom in the surfing popularity, skateboarding became more popular. During this time it was known as sidewalk surfing. In the 1960's is when skateboarding really took off. This is when the first skateboards were produced and sold. During this time period skateboarding consisted of cruising around the streets on your board. In 1978 a 15 year old boy by the name of Alan "Ollie" Gelfand invented a trick he called the no-hands air. His friends named after him the ollie. This was a ramp based trick. In the coming years a rider by the name of Rodney Mullen took the trick and applied it to flatland skateboarding. After this point skateboarding began to evolve in to the sport it is today. Virtually every trick in the modern day skateboarding involves the ollie.

When a skateboarder rolls down the street they have forces acting in the X and Y direction. The forces that I will focus on are only in the Y direction. As a skater rides down the street there are three forces acting on the skateboard. The red arrows in the image indicate the force of gravity on the mass of the skater(Mg). The black arrow represents the force of gravity on the skateboard(mg). The blue arrows are the FN or natural force of the ground pushing up on the wheels of the board. These forces have a net force of zero.
Sum of forces in Y: Mg + mg - FN = 0

As the skater prepares to ollie they lower the center of gravity by bending at the knees and waist. Next the skater will begin to explode in the positive Y direction by pressing down on the tail of the board. The red arrows now have an uneven distribution to the tail of the board causing lift on the nose. All of the FN is now pushing up on the rear wheels.

At this point the skater is has applied a large downward force on the tail causing the board to pop or bounce off of the ground. The downward force applied is greater than the force of gravity allowing the board to begin leaving the ground.

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During this instant of time the skater has continued exploding up in t he positive Y direction. In this picture the FN is represented by the blue arrow and the black arrow is the center of mass. The placement of the front foot before the ollie can determine the overall height of the trick.

At this point in the ollie the board and skater have completely left the ground. The instant that the tail of the board strikes the ground and starts to lift the skater slides their front foot up the board. The frictional force provided by the grip tape on the surface of the skateboard and the movement of the foot up the board is were the major portion of height is gained. The red arrows indicate the direction of the forces from the sliding of the foot. The black arrow is the center of mass acting with gravity.

At this point in the trick the skater and board have reached maximum height. The board has leveled off and the only forces now are the mass of the board and gravity(mg) and the mass of the rider and gravity(Mg). This indicates that the board and rider are now moving toward the ground with an acceleration of 9.81m/s2.

When the skater lands they will bend their knees to help absorb the impact of the ground. At this point we are back were we started with a net force of zero.
Forces in the Y: Mg + mg - FN = 0

Sources

Doherty, Paul. "Physics of the Ollie."
http://www.exo.net/~pauld/Skateboard/ollie_physics.html

Menard, Jeremy. "Physics in Skateboarding: The Ollie."
http://skatephysics101.tripod.com/

Robinson, Lowell. "Skateboard Science Exploratorium."
http://www.exploratorium.edu/skateboarding/

Lefevre, Greg. "Skateboarding Physics."
http://www.cnnsf.com/newsvault/output/skate.html


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