Skater Slang & Skateboarding Terminology Guide

Introduction

If you’re new to skateboarding, you might be overwhelmed by skaters’ unique language. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! So grab your board, and let’s get started! This article will delve into the exciting world of street skating and skateboarding terminology, covering everything from basic terms to advanced tricks.

Types of Skateboards

When it comes to skateboarding, there are three main types of boards:

  • Shortboards are designed for performing tricks and are typically used in street and park skateboarding.
  • Cruisers are great for casual riding and cruising around town. They have a longer wheelbase and softer wheels for a smoother ride.
  • Longboards are perfect for long-distance rides, downhill racing, and carving. They are the longest of the three types and provide excellent stability.

Basic Skateboarding Terms

Before we dive into more complex terminology, let’s cover some basic skateboarding terms:

  • Ollie: A fundamental trick where the skater jumps with their board without holding onto it.
  • Kickflip: A scheme where the skater flips the board 360 degrees along its axis while in the air.
  • Grind: Sliding along a rail or ledge using the skateboard trucks.

Skateboard Anatomy

Understanding the different parts of a skateboard deck is essential. Here are the main components:

  • Deck: The flat surface you stand on while riding. It’s typically made of layers of wood, such as maple or bamboo.
  • Trucks: The metal T-shaped pieces that attach the wheels to the deck.
  • Wheels: The round, urethane pieces that allow the skateboard to roll.
  • Bearings: Small metal components that fit inside the wheels, allowing them to spin smoothly.

Skatepark Features

Skateparks are filled with various features for skaters to practice their tricks on:

  • Ramps: Sloped surfaces used to gain speed or perform aerial tricks.
  • Rails: Metal bars for grinding and sliding.
  • Half-pipes: U-shaped structures with vertical walls, allowing skaters to perform aerial tricks while transitioning from one side to the other.

Skateboarding Styles

There are several skateboarding styles, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Street: Involves performing tricks on urban obstacles like stairs, ledges, and handrails.
  • Vert: Takes on vertical ramps or half-pipes, focusing on aerial manoeuvres.
  • Freestyle: A creative style that involves performing tricks and balancing on the board in a flat area.

Skateboarding Tricks

Skateboarding tricks can be grouped into different categories based on their complexity and the skills required:

  • Flip Tricks involve flipping the skateboard in various ways while the skater is airborne. Examples include kickflips, heelflips, and tre scans.
  • Grind Tricks: These tricks involve using skateboard trucks to slide along a rail, ledge, or other surfaces. Examples include 50-50 grinds, 5-0 grinds, and nose grinds.
  • Grab Tricks: Skaters perform these tricks by grabbing the board with one or both hands while in the air. Examples include Indy grabs, melon grabs, and Stalefish grabs.
skater slang - Tony Hawk

Skater Slang

  1. Shred: To skate with great skill and style, often referring to performing tricks with ease and fluidity.
  2. Stoked: To be excited or enthusiastic about skateboarding or a particular trick or session.
  3. Gnarly: Describes a challenging or complex trick, obstacle, or skate spot. It can also be used to express admiration for a skater’s performance.
  4. Kickflip: A famous skateboard trick in which the skater kicks the board’s tail down and simultaneously flicks their front foot to make the board flip 360 degrees along its axis.
  5. Bail: To jump off the skateboard to avoid injury or falling during a failed trick attempt.
  6. Grind: A trick in which the skater slides along a surface (such as a rail, ledge, or curb) using the skateboard trucks.
  7. Ollie: A fundamental skateboard trick in which the skater jumps into the air with the board without using their hands to lift it.
  8. Goofy: A stance in which the skater rides with their right foot forward on the skateboard (opposite of the “regular” stance).
  9. Regular: A stance in which the skater rides with their left foot forward on the skateboard (opposite of “goofy” stance).
  10. Slam: A hard fall, usually resulting from a failed trick or loss of balance.
  11. Hesh: A style or attitude characterized by a rebellious, anti-establishment vibe, often associated with punk rock or grunge culture.
  12. Vert: Short for “vertical,” referring to skateboarding on ramps or surfaces with steep transitions, such as half-pipes.
  13. Mongo: A frowned-upon method of pushing a skateboard, where the skater pushes with their front foot instead of their back foot.
  14. Skate rat: A term of endearment for someone passionate about skateboarding who spends most of their time practising or hanging out at skate parks.
  15. Wax: A substance used to make surfaces, like rails and ledges, more slippery for grinds and slides.
  16. Pop: A skater’s ability to generate height or lift during a trick, often used to describe the quality of an ollie or similar manoeuvres.
  17. Fakie: Riding the skateboard backwards from the skater’s natural stance, often as a setup for a trick.
  18. Switch: Performing a trick or riding in the opposite stance from the skater’s natural stance (regular skaters riding goofy, and vice versa).
  19. Nollie: A variation of the ollie in which the skater uses the nose of the skateboard to generate lift rather than the tail.
  20. Spot: A location or area where skateboarders gather to practice tricks and hang out, often featuring specific obstacles or terrain conducive to skateboarding.
  21. Deck: The flat, wooden part of the skateboard that the skater stands on, usually made from layers of pressed maple.
  22. Trucks: The metal components that attach the wheels to the deck, allowing the skateboard to pivot and turn.
  23. Bearings: Small, circular metal parts inside the skateboard wheels enable them to spin smoothly and quickly.
  24. Grip tape: The sandpaper-like material applied to the top of the deck to provide traction and control for the skater’s feet.
  25. Session: A period spent practising skateboarding, either individually or with a group of friends.
  26. Snake: A negative term for a skater who repeatedly cuts in front of others or hogs a specific spot or obstacle at a skate park.
  27. Wallride: A trick in which the skater rides their skateboard along a vertical wall or surface, usually using momentum from a ramp or bank.
  28. Transition: A curved or sloped surface, like a ramp or bowl, allows the skater to move from a horizontal plane to a vertical one or vice versa.
  29. Manual: A trick in which the skater balances on the skateboard’s front or back wheels, similar to a wheelie on a bike.
  30. Nosegrind: A grind performed on the skateboard’s front truck, with the board’s tail lifted into the air.
  31. Tailslide: A trick in which the skater slides along a surface using the tail of their skateboard while the front wheels are lifted off the ground.
  32. 50-50: A grind in which both skateboard trucks slide along a surface, such as a rail or a ledge.
  33. Boneless: An old-school skateboard trick in which the skater grabs the board with one hand, steps off with one foot, and jumps back onto the board.
  34. Heelflip: A skateboarding trick similar to a kickflip, but with the board flipping in the opposite direction, achieved by kicking the front foot’s heel outward.
  35. Varial: A skateboarding trick that combines a 180-degree spin of the body with a 180-degree spin of the board, usually performed mid-air.
  36. Hardflip: A skateboarding trick that combines a frontside pop shove-it with a kickflip, resulting in a unique flipping and spinning motion.
  37. Flat ground refers to smooth, level surfaces ideal for practising skateboard tricks, such as parking lots or tennis courts.
  38. DIY: Short for “Do It Yourself,” referring to skate spots or skate parks built by skateboarders using found materials without official permission or support.
  39. Flow: A term used to describe a skater’s style, referring to the smoothness and fluidity of their movements and tricks.
  40. Skate or die: A phrase popularized in the 1980s that represents the dedication and passion of skateboarders, reflecting an all-or-nothing attitude toward the sport.
  41. Blunt: A trick where the skater stalls on a ramp or obstacle using the skateboard’s tail, with the nose pointing upwards.
  42. Caballerial (Cab): A 360-degree spin trick invented by professional skateboarder Steve Caballero, usually performed on a ramp or pool.
  43. Crailslide: A trick in which the skater slides along a surface with their backhand, grabbing the nose of the board and their back foot on the tail.
  44. Darkslide: An advanced trick in which the skater slides along a surface using the upside-down middle section of their skateboard, with their feet on the grip tape side.
  45. Drop-in: The act of entering a ramp, bowl, or pool by placing the skateboard on the coping (edge) and shifting weight onto the board to begin riding the transition.
  46. Hip: A raised, angled section in a skate park or ramp where two surfaces meet, often used to launch into the air or perform tricks.
  47. Judo: A skateboard grab trick in which the skater kicks one foot forward while holding the nose of the board with their front hand.
  48. Late flip: A trick in which the skater initiates a flip or spin of the board after the initial pop or ollie, adding an element of style and difficulty.
  49. Lip trick: A trick performed on the edge or coping of a ramp, bowl, or pool involving a stall, slide, or grind.
  50. McTwist: An inverted aerial trick that involves a 540-degree spin, invented by professional skateboarder Mike McGill.
  51. No comply: An old-school trick in which the skater steps off the board with their front foot while popping the tail, then jumps back onto the board.
  52. Overcrook: A grind trick in which the skater balances on the front truck, with the nose of the skateboard, angled over the grinding surface.
  53. Powerslide: A technique to slow down or stop by turning the board sideways and sliding on the wheels, creating friction against the ground.
  54. Quarterpipe: A small, curved ramp that resembles one-quarter of a full pipe, often used for launching into the air or practising lip tricks.
  55. Revert: The act of pivoting or spinning the skateboard 180 degrees on the ground, often used to change stances or as a stylish way to exit a trick.
  56. Sack: An unfortunate and painful situation where a skater misses their intended grind or slide and lands on the rail or ledge, straddling it.
  57. Tic-tac: A technique used to gain speed or manoeuvre the skateboard by quickly pivoting it back and forth on the wheels.
  58. Underflip: A variation of a kickflip or heelflip, in which the skater uses their backhand to grab the board and flip it while in the air.
  59. Vert wall: A near-vertical or completely vertical section of a skate park or ramp, providing a challenging obstacle for advanced skaters.
  60. Wipeout: A general term for a fall or crash during skateboarding, often used in a lighthearted or humorous manner to describe a skater’s misfortune.
  61. Airwalk: An aerial trick in which the skater grabs the nose of the board with their front hand and extends both legs outward, creating a walking motion in the air.
  62. Backside: A term used to describe the direction of a trick or turn when the skater’s back is facing the obstacle, ramp, or direction of rotation.
  63. Frontside: A term used to describe the direction of a trick or turn when the skater’s front faces the obstacle, ramp, or direction of rotation.
  64. Casper: A freestyle trick in which the skater stands on the upside-down tail of the board while flipping it and balancing on the front foot.
  65. Dolphin flip: A skateboarding trick similar to a kickflip, but with the board flipping end-over-end instead of spinning along its axis.
  66. Eggplant: An inverted handplant trick in which the skater plants their front hand on the coping of a ramp or bowl while their feet remain on the board and their body rotates 180 degrees.
  67. Fingerflip: A skateboarding trick in which the skater uses their hand to flip the board while jumping or performing an ollie.
  68. Ghost ride: Stepping off a moving skateboard and running alongside it briefly before jumping back onto the board.
  69. Hang up: A situation in which a skater’s wheels or trucks get caught on the coping of a ramp or bowl, causing them to lose momentum or fall.
  70. Inward heelflip: A skateboarding trick that combines a heelflip with a backside pop shove-it, causing the board to flip and spin inward.
  71. K-grind: Also known as a crooked grind, a trick where the skater grinds on a rail or ledge using the front truck, with the nose of the skateboard angled upward.
  72. Layback: A trick in which the skater leans back, placing one hand behind the ground for support while carving or turning on a ramp or bowl.
  73. Melon grab: A grab trick in which the skater reaches behind their back leg to grab the heel edge of the skateboard with their backhand.
  74. Natas spin: A trick in which the skater balances on one foot while spinning on an obstacle, such as a fire hydrant or pole, named after professional skateboarder Natas Kaupas.
  75. Pivot: A trick or manoeuvre in which the skater turns or spins on the nose or tail of the skateboard, often used as a stylish way to change direction.
  76. Rocket air: An aerial trick in which the skater grabs the nose of the board with both hands while extending their legs, creating the appearance of flying.
  77. Sex change: A trick in which the skater performs a body varial (180-degree spin) without the board spinning, often combined with a kickflip or heelflip.
  78. Tailblock: A stall trick where the skater plants their back foot on the skateboard’s tail, balancing on the edge of a ramp or obstacle with the front wheels off the ground.
  79. Unity grind: A grind trick performed on inline skates where the skater crosses their legs and grinds on the middle of the frame, often adapted to skateboard tricks.
  80. Z-boys: A group of influential skateboarders from the 1970s, based in Santa Monica and Venice, California, who helped popularize the sport and develop modern skateboarding styles.
  81. Acid drop: A trick in which the skater rides off a ledge or drop without an ollie, simply shifting their weight to fall with the skateboard.
  82. Back foot impossible: A trick in which the skater wraps the skateboard around their back foot in a 360-degree motion while jumping, causing the board to lift and spin vertically.
  83. Coffin: A trick where the skater lays down on the skateboard, flat on their back, with arms crossed over their chest, resembling a person in a coffin.
  84. Disaster: A trick in which the skater lands on the coping of a ramp or obstacle with their board in a 50-50 position, but with the wheels on either side of the obstacle.
  85. Feeble grind: A grind trick in which the skater grinds on a rail or ledge using the back truck, with the front truck hanging over the grinding surface.
  86. G-turn: A freestyle trick in which the skater spins on the nose of the skateboard while balancing on one foot, often transitioning into a manual.
  87. Hospital flip: A skateboarding trick that combines a half kickflip with a half frontside shove-it, resulting in a unique flipping and spinning motion.
  88. Indy grab: A grab trick in which the skater reaches down with their backhand to grab the toe edge of the skateboard between their feet.
  89. Japan air: An aerial trick in which the skater grabs the toe edge of the skateboard with their front hand while tucking their back knee behind their front leg.
  90. Kickturn: A manoeuvre in which the skater lifts the front wheels of the skateboard off the ground and pivots on the back wheels to change direction.
  91. Loop: A skateboarding feature that resembles a full circle, allowing the skater to ride upside down and complete a 360-degree turn while maintaining momentum.
  92. Mute grab: A grab trick in which the skater reaches across their body with their front hand to grab the heel edge of the skateboard between their feet.
  93. Nose manual: A variation of the manual in which the skater balances on the front wheels of the skateboard with the tail lifted off the ground.
  94. Ollie North: A trick in which the skater performs an ollie and extends their front foot forward, creating a unique leg extension and style.
  95. Pumping: A technique to gain speed and maintain momentum on ramps and transitions by shifting body weight and applying pressure to the skateboard.
  96. Railslide: A trick in which the skater slides along a rail, ledge, or other surface using the middle section of their skateboard between the trucks.
  97. Stalefish grab: A grab trick in which the skater reaches behind their back leg to grab the heel edge of the skateboard with their front hand.
  98. Tailgrab: A grab trick in which the skater reaches down with their backhand to grab the skateboard’s tail.
  99. Varial flip: A skateboarding trick that combines a kickflip with a pop shove-it, resulting in a 180-degree spin and flip of the board.
  100. Wallie: A trick in which the skater rides up a wall or vertical surface and uses it to pop the skateboard into the air, often combined with a 180-degree spin or flip.

Learn more about skateboarding basics here

Skateboarding Competitions

Competitive skateboarding events showcase the talent and skill of professional skaters. Some popular competitions include the X Games, Street League Skateboarding (SLS), and the Dew Tour.

Skateboarding Safety

Safety is a crucial aspect of skateboarding. It’s essential to wear protective gear, such as helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads, to minimize the risk of injury. Additionally, learning proper techniques and gradually progressing in skill level half skateboard itself can reduce the chance of accidents.

Skateboarding Culture

Skateboarding culture is a unique blend of art, music, fashion, and camaraderie. Skaters often express their creativity by customizing their boards, creating DIY skate spots, and supporting local skate shops. Skateboarding culture also has a solid connection to punk rock and hip-hop music.

Learn more about skateboarding here

Conclusion

Skateboarding terminology is a rich and diverse language that reflects the creativity and passion of the sport. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skater, understanding the terminology can help you better appreciate the intricacies of skateboarding and connect with fellow skaters. So, keep practising, stay safe, and most importantly – have fun!

FAQs

  1. What is the difference between a skateboard and a longboard? A skateboard is typically shorter and designed for performing tricks, while a longboard is longer, offering more stability and is better suited for cruising and downhill riding.
  2. How do I choose the right skateboard for me? Consider your intended use (tricks, cruising, or downhill riding) and your skill level. Beginners can start with a cruiser or longboard before transitioning to a shortboard for tricks.
  3. What is the best way to learn skateboarding? Begin with the basics, like pushing, turning, and stopping. Once you’re comfortable, gradually progress to more advanced skills and tricks. You can also take lessons or watch tutorial videos.
  4. Do I need to wear safety gear while skateboarding? Yes, wearing safety gear, such as helmets and pads, is crucial for reducing the risk of injury. Even experienced skaters should prioritize safety when practising new tricks or skating in unfamiliar environments.
  5. How can I get involved in the skateboarding community? Visit local skateparks, participate in skateboarding events, and support local skate shops. Engaging with other skaters and sharing your passion for the sport will help you become an active member of the skateboarding community.

Useful links

  1. Skateboarding Slang: A Comprehensive Guide – Skateboarder Magazine https://www.skateboardermag.com/skateboarding-slang-a-comprehensive-guide/ Explore the world of skateboarding slang with this comprehensive guide, covering popular terms, phrases, and expressions used by skateboarders.
  2. Skateboarding Lingo: 50+ Essential Terms – Transworld Skateboarding https://www.transworld.net/skateboarding-lingo-50-essential-terms/ This article provides a list of over 50 essential skateboarding terms, helping you understand and use the unique language of the skateboarding community.
  3. A-Z Skateboarding Slang Dictionary – Skateboarding HQ https://www.skateboardinghq.com/a-z-skateboarding-slang-dictionary/ Discover an extensive A-Z dictionary of skateboarding slang, featuring definitions, examples, and explanations of popular terms and phrases.
  4. Skater Slang 101: Learn the Lingo – The Ride Channel https://www.theridechannel.com/skater-slang-101-learn-the-lingo/ Get familiar with skater slang and the unique language used by skateboarders with this informative guide, covering key terms, phrases, and expressions.
  5. Skateboarding Slang: A Beginner’s Guide – Skateboard Academy https://www.skateboardacademy.com/skateboarding-slang-a-beginners-guide/ Learn the basics of skateboarding slang with this beginner-friendly guide, featuring popular terms and phrases commonly used within the skateboarding community.
  6. Skater Speak: A Glossary of Skateboarding Terms – Skateboard Collective https://www.skateboardcollective.com/skater-speak-glossary-of-skateboarding-terms/ Delve into the world of skater speak with this glossary of skateboarding terms, including detailed explanations and examples of common expressions.
  7. Skateboarding Lingo: The Origin of Skater Slang – HuffPost https://www.huffpost.com/entry/skateboarding-lingo-origin-skater-slang_b_5813266 This article explores the origins and history of skateboarding lingo, providing insights into the development and evolution of skater slang over the years.
  8. Skateboarding Terms and Phrases: A Visual Guide – SkaterTrainer https://www.skatertrainer.com/blogs/skater-blog/skateboarding-terms-phrases-visual-guide This visual guide presents a collection of skateboarding terms and phrases, complete with illustrations and examples to help you understand and use skater slang.
  9. The Culture of Skateboarding: Language and Terminology – Skateboard Guide https://www.skateboardguide.com/culture-skateboarding-language-terminology/ Gain an understanding of the language and terminology used within the culture of skateboarding, including popular expressions, phrases, and terms.
  10. How Skater Slang Influenced Modern Language – Braille Skateboarding https://www.brailleskateboarding.com/how-skater-slang-influenced-modern-language/ Learn about the impact of skater slang on modern language and popular culture, including examples of terms and phrases that have become part of everyday speech.
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