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Guide to Skate Lingo: 66 Basic Skateboarding Terms

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jun 22, 2020 • 7 min read

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Tony Hawk Teaches Skateboarding

If you’re just now getting into skating, take some time to familiarize yourself with common skateboarding terms.

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Tony Hawk Teaches SkateboardingTony Hawk Teaches Skateboarding

Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk teaches you how to take your skateboarding to the next level, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

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66 Basic Skateboarding Terms

  1. Aerial: A trick where all four wheels leave the vertical or horizontal plane.
  2. Air: Short for aerial.
  3. Backside: In general, a trick executed with the skater’s back facing the ramp or obstacle. Also, when you rotate the back of your body in the direction you’re riding.
  4. Bail: While in the air, deciding you’re not going to land your trick and kicking your board away for a hopefully painless landing.
  5. Bearings: Round metal discs that fit inside the wheels, mounting them to the axle. The inner and outer parts of the discs ride on interior balls, allowing wheels to turn.
  6. Boardslide: Also called a "railslide," this trick involves sliding the underside of your board along an obstacle like a rail or curb. It differs from a grind in that the trucks don't touch the obstacle, and the board is perpendicular to the obstacle.
  7. Bonk: A short nose grind involving a quick tap of the front truck on an obstacle.
  8. Bowl: A skatable object (like a pool) where the transitioned walls wrap around 360 degrees to form a bowl.
  9. Caballerial: Also called a "cab" or a "full cab," a caballerial is a fakie ollie where the skater rotates 360 degrees. Named after its creator, Steve Caballero, it’s a portmanteau for “Caballero” and “aerial.”
  10. Carve: The act of making big, fast turns in the corners of transitions.
  11. Coping: A protruding edge, typically made of metal or cement, that runs along the lip of transitioned ramps.
  12. Crooked grind: A nosegrind on your front truck so that the nose end of your board angles down toward an obstacle like rail or curb, and the tail end points up and away from the obstacle.
  13. Crew: The people you skate with.
  14. Deck: The board upon which you stand. Decks are typically made of seven or nine layers of maple or birch wood that are laminated together and shaped.
  15. Disaster: The act of rotating 180 degrees in the air—either frontside or backside—then smacking the center of the deck on the coping before reentering a bowl or ramp.
  16. Drop in: The act of going from a flat platform into a steep transition. Also, any obstacle that skaters can perform that act from by placing their tail on the obstacle’s edge and leaning forward.
  17. Durometer: A measure of the hardness of the urethane used to make your wheels, since harder wheels go faster than softer wheels. Evaluated using the Durometer A Scale, which goes from 1 to 100 and measures increasing hardness.
  18. Fakie: Riding fakie is when you’re in your normal stance and rolling backward.
  19. Flat / flatbottom: Any flat surface at the bottom of a transition.
  20. Frontside: In general, a trick executed with the skater’s front facing the ramp or obstacle. Also, when you rotate the front of your body in the direction you’re riding.
  21. Goofy-foot: A skating stance where the right foot is the lead foot.
  22. Grip tape: Adhesive-backed sandpaper affixed to the top of the board to provide traction.
  23. Half-pipe / vert ramp: A ramp composed of a flatbottom with concave transition leading to vertical on both sides.
  24. Handplant: A trick that requires you to do a one-handed handstand while your other hand grabs and holds your skateboard.
  25. Hang up: When your truck catches on the coping while reentering a transition.
  26. Hardflip: A trick consisting of a frontside 180 pop shove-it and a kickflip.
  27. Hardware: Nuts, bolts, and screws that hold trucks onto the board.
  28. Heelflip: A flip trick you execute in the middle of an ollie by using your front heel to flip your board 360 degrees along its lengthwise axis.
  29. Kickflip: A flip trick you perform in the middle of an ollie by using your front toe to flip your board 360 degrees along its lengthwise axis.
  30. Kick turn: When you briefly lift the nose of your board, balancing on your back wheels, and swing the front of your board in a new direction.
  31. Knee slide: A way of controlling a fall by sliding on plastic caps on your kneepads.
  32. Ledge: Any elongated block with edges on which you can do slides or grind tricks.
  33. Line: A number of tricks performed consecutively, or the route a rider plans to skate.
  34. Lip: The edge of any transition that a skateboarder rides. Lips are often built with coping.
  35. Lipslide: A slide in which the tail of the board goes up and over the obstacle and your board slides between the front and back trucks.
  36. Manual: A trick where you balance on either the front or back wheels of your board without the tail or nose of the board touching the ground.
  37. Mongo-foot: A skating stance where you push with your front foot and keep your back foot on the board. Also called "mongo pushing."
  38. Nollie: A variation of the ollie where you use your front foot to pop the nose of the board against the ground. Nollie is short for "nose ollie" or "Natas ollie," as the move was originated by professional skateboarder Natas Kaupas.
  39. Nose: The front of the skateboard, from the front truck bolts to the tip of the board.
  40. Noseslide: A slide on an obstacle using the underside of the nose end of your board.
  41. Ollie: This fundamental street skating move involves using your back foot to pop the tail of the board against the ground while your front foot lifts the board up into the air.
  42. Pocket: The concave part of the skateboard’s curved tail or nose.
  43. Pump: Extending your legs at the right spot on a transition to build up speed.
  44. Quarter-pipe: One side of a half-pipe. A quarter-pipe only has one concave vertical ramp.
  45. Rail: The edge of the skateboard. Alternately, a handrail or any other object made to emulate a handrail.
  46. Razor tail: A chipped tail that results from stopping your board by dragging the tail on the ground.
  47. Regular-foot: A skating stance where the left foot is the lead foot.
  48. Revert: A rotation, either frontside or backside, done by sliding the wheels along the ground.
  49. Riser pads / risers: Hard plastic pads inserted between the trucks and deck to raise the overall height of the skateboard and avoid wheel bite.
  50. Rock ‘n’ roll: A ramp trick where you go up to the lip, push your front truck over it, stall, then kick turn 180 degrees to reenter the transition.
  51. Session: Any time skaters get together at a spot to skate.
  52. Sketchy: A word for describing a trick that's executed poorly.
  53. Slam: A hard fall.
  54. Snake: Someone who cuts you off or steals your line at a park or spot. Also, the act of cutting someone off or stealing their line.
  55. Spot: Any location with skateable elements where street skaters ride.
  56. Stall: Holding a trick for some duration of time before reentering a transition.
  57. Switch stance: The opposite footing from what you normally use. A regular skater's switch stance is goofy-foot and a goofy skater's switch stance is regular-foot.
  58. Tail: The rear of the skateboard, from the rear truck bolts to the end of the board.
  59. Tailslide: A slide on an obstacle using the underside of the tail end of your board.
  60. Tic-tac: To pivot left and right on your back wheels, either as a means of acceleration or to keep your balance when landing a trick off center.
  61. Transition: Any surface for skating that is not horizontal or vertical. The curved part of the terrain that is between 0 and 90 degrees.
  62. Trucks: The front and rear axle assemblies that connect the wheels to the deck and allow the board to turn. The trucks primarily consist of the following parts: a hanger, baseplate, axle, and kingpin. Tightening your truck's kingpin bolt gives your board more stability while loosening it gives your board increased turning capability.
  63. Varial / shove-it: The spinning of the board along its vertical axis.
  64. Wheelbase: The distance between your board's inner truck bolt holes that dictates how far apart your front and back wheels will be. A longer wheelbase increases stability, while a shorter wheelbase allows for tighter turning.
  65. Wheel bite: When too much weight is applied to one side of the board, causing the underside of the deck to touch a wheel and stop its rotation.
  66. Wheels: What your board rolls on (obviously). They are typically made of polyurethane and measured by their size and hardness.

Want to Learn More About Skateboarding?

Whether you’re just learning how to ollie or ready to tackle a Madonna (the vert trick, not the singer), the MasterClass All-Access Pass can help you find confidence on your board with exclusive instructional videos from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, street skater Riley Hawk, and Olympic hopeful Lizzie Armanto.

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