How to 180 bmx for beginners?
Things that didnt help
Most youtube advice 'throw more', 'carve more', 'look behind you'. I'm sure it works for many people, and now I can land them I understand those cues, but I just couldnt get them to help. I think when you know a trick so well it's hard to convey the little steps you went through.
Things that helped:
Looking behind you before jumping: I struggled with looking behind after initiating my bunnyhop, so trying to look over my shoulder then jump to get my bike to where I was facing helped, but could never get past about 3/4 rotation with this.
Flyout 180: Landed flyout 180 2nd or 3rd session onto a table top (but probably 50+ attempts each session....). The air time and having to look behind myself to make sure I dont disaster/case is what I think really helped get the rotation. Taking it from table to flat took months though....
Quarter pipe 180: Dont need to air out, just go up a little, even only halfway up the quarter, and when you reach the floaty feeling when you stop going higher, turn handlebars a little and hop. For the first few times you can just ride a wide carve without the hop, then start off riding at a wide angle and hopping, then gradually tightening it up to straight up, 180, straight down. Wide quarters help a lot initially, and concrete which is very grippy and forgiving if you dont land at a good angle. I learnt on plastic and a slight mistake meant the wheels slid out horribly
Making sure your handlebars point behind you: 180 nose pivots clicked instantly after a month of trying when I realised I'm not going 180 unless my handlebars do, same with hop 180s. I would hop and spin but my handlebars would still be mostly facing the direction I was originally facing. When jumping, I now consciously make sure to pull my handlebars around so they are facing behind me, which really helped with twisting and looking behind me.
180 nose pivot: As mentioned in tip above, make sure your handlebars turn 180 or you wont. A nose pivot with a little hop once you've started rotating is kind of similar to a 180, a nollie 180?
180 tail pivot manual things: Helped me get the hang of looking behind myself, and pulling front wheel up to avoid both wheel hopping together. While moving forward, pull into a manual and simultaneously carve while looking at a spot behind yourself. Don't put the front down until you have done a full 180 twist, which will be impossible if you aren't looking at a spot behind you. Once you've done 90 degrees you could probably just hop rear wheel up and you would be thrown around the other 90 degrees, but I couldnt get it to link up. I'd manual tail pivot thing 90 degrees, hop, then just stop twisting
tail end throwing: when bunny hopping try throwing your rear wheel out and around in the direction you want to spin. I was isolating this when learning double peg grinds as my front peg would connect but rear wouldn't unless I consciously threw my tail end into the ledge. Helped a little with 180 rotation.
disasters: going up a ramp and throwing the back end around so the back wheel lands on the deck but the front wheel stays on the ramp. It is a 180, but it made me look at the coping (twist my head) and concentrate on throwing the back end, which helped for the flat 180. This can be also done on a flyout box, or a bank with a flat top, instead of a ramp
What made 180's click
I was riding up to a perpendicular parking spot marking, and trying to simply 90 degree spin and land on the line, as if trying to spin into a double peg stall. Then I was trying to jump over the line and still land parallel. I turned the front wheel to be parallel to the line, then hopped over the line, making sure to throw my rear wheel around to make sure it would land over the line. First time I did this I threw myself almost 180 degrees by accident, then next time well over 200. I'd found a mental cue for carving that worked, and focusing on trying to hop over a line meant my eyes were always on a spot that became further behind me as I moved forward, covering the 'twist your head/shoulders' advice. I went from not a single flat 180 in months of trying, to landing ~60% of all attempts a few minutes later with this accidental discovery.
So now my hop 180 mental process is: ride perpendicular to a line/mark on the floor, turn and ride front wheel along the line for a moment (basically carve), then pull up front wheel, hop, and make sure rear wheel lands behind the line, essentially doing a disaster on a parking spot line, or land both wheels behind the line when I have more speed. I make sure to always stay looking at the line, because thats how I'll twist my head and shoulders to get the rotation. Now I'm comfortable with my 'turn and ride the line' carve and looking behind, I am getting used to doing them anywhere, and working on linking on the fakie out.
I hope this helps someone!
TL:DR I essentially accidently started doing car park line marking disasters and 180's came instantly. Sometimes all it takes is a tiny little mental trick or change of habit and new tricks come easy
A few months later update Now I've got them, I've started thinking of them more as the usual 'look behind you advice', but specifically, look behind you over your shoulder, not at the floor behind you. It helps you keep your body upright and make sure you pull up the front wheel, and land back wheel first. When I was learning, I had a lot of front wheel first, wrist-heavy landings from focusing too much on the floor, and looking up over my shoulder has fixed this. I'm already pretty much looking behind before I start jumping.