Simple Tips for Identifying The Nose and Tail Quickly

Skateboards have a front and back, which we call the nose (front) and the tail (back). The nose of a skateboard longer and has a steeper angle than the tail, often noticeable when standing on one side or the other on your board.

There are a couple of ways to make it easier to find out which is the front and back. The front of your board is the nose and the back is called the tail. The nose of a skateboard is longer and higher from the ground compared to the tail.

  1. Inspect the graphic, they are usually directional and point to the front
  2. Check the shape, the higher and longer end is the front of your board
  3. Mark your grip tape once you figure our the front or use colored hardware.

After over 20 years of skateboarding I still check if I’m holding my skateboard the right way before I drop in. The thing is, even experienced skaters sometimes check the front and back of their skateboard because the difference isn’t always immediately obvious.

Graphics Usually Give It Away

skateboard front and back graphics

This doesn’t work when you have a blank skateboard deck, but usually there is a heat-transferred graphic that goes from the back to the front of a skateboard. The arrows in the example above poin towards the nose.

Often there is a brand name or some typography which makes it easy to identify the front of your skateboard.

If there isn’t any logo or typography present, the orientation of the graphic should give away the nose and tail of your skateboard.

Inspect Both Ends For Length and Angles

difference-between-front and back skateboard

While it’s hard to see on this image, if you inspect both ends of a skateboard in real life you will see differences. It’s clear that the nose is longer (green area) and slightly more elevated (red line).

  • The front (nose) is often longer and has a steeper upward curve.
  • The back (tail) is shorter and less steep angle.

The Nose (front) and tail (back) are shaped differently, with the exception of twin-shaped decks. The nose is a bit longer and further from the ground than the tail.

When you put your skateboard on the ground on an even surface, the difference should be visible. This is especially useful when you don’t have a graphic on the bottom of your deck.

3. Mark Your Grip Tape

grip tape cutout skateboard

I always make a grip tape cut out near the back of my skateboard. This makes it immediately obvious that you’re skating the ‘wrong’ way.

You can make a circle, a square, or any shape you desire. Another simple way is to just make a deep scratch at the end of the nose.

Colored Hardware

different colors skateboard hardware

Last practical solution is to use different colored bolts. If you place 2 colored bolts at the front (or back) it’s easy to identify the which is what.

The only downside is that some colored hardware gradually fades so stay away from the cheap Element hardware. It’s just a colored coating or paint which doesn’t last forever depending on the brand.

As soon as you identified the nose and tail, put the colored bolts where you prefer. Some brands sell hardware with 6 black and 2 colored bolts.

Use a different Colored Wheel

I was watching the documentary Tony Hawk: Until The Wheels Come Off’ and noticed he had 3 green wheels and one white wheel in front (or was it the other way around?), and thought it was an interesting approach. Does Tony hawk also have this issue?

I guess this is way over the top because it would require you to buy two sets of the same wheels, but a pretty cool solution nonetheless.

A cheap solution would be to swap one wheel and put the graphic on the inside (or the other way around).

Difference Between Nose and Tail of a Skateboard

The nose and tail are shaped differently because you use your front and back foot for different purposes. Your dominant foot which you use to pop a deck, is usually in the back and is often stronger.

Your front foot is arguably faster and used for flip tricks, a longer and steeper nose makes this easier.

Usually you either skate regular or goofy where your back foot is always on the tail. You hardly ever ride with your front foot on the nose, except when doing tricks like nollies.

A shorter tail which is lower to the ground takes less time to pop. A longer and steeper nose will help you to flip your board faster.

Anyway, that’s about it I guess.

Photo of author

Ruben Vee

I love skateboarding but my age is catching up. I decided to use my experience to skate less and write more. 20 years of skateboarding allows me to offer original and unique insights for many styles of skateboarding.