Shredding Surf Slang

from A to Z

So you’ve caught the wave bug and are ready to jump headfirst into the world of surfing. And then you overhear some experienced surfers talking about how they were “shredding” (surfing aggressively) the other day, that the waves were “puuumping” (powerful and perfect), and they were absolutely “stoked” (excited) about their session, dude (a general term for a fellow surfer). But don’t worry grommet (beginner)! We summed up the most common surfer slang so you can confidently hang ten (stand upright on the board) beside your newly made surfer friends.

Catching a wave

This is the ultimate goal! Common terms include

Bail: Jumping off your board to avoid a wipeout or collision

Barrel (Tube, Green Room): Riding inside the hollow section of a breaking wave.

Caught Inside: Being stuck between breaking waves and the shore. Paddle out to safety when the larger waves pass. Also called the “white zone,” “no man’s land,” or “crash zone.”

Clean-Up Set: A larger-than-average wave or series of waves that breaks before the lineup, clearing out surfers.

Close Out: A wave that breaks all at once along its entire length, making it unrideable.

Dawn Patrol: An early morning surf session at or just before sunrise.

Drop in (snake in): Stealing a wave from another surfer closer to the peak (bad etiquette!).

Lineup: The waiting area where surfers position themselves to catch incoming waves.

Lull: The calm period between swells.

Paddle out: Navigate through breaking waves to reach the lineup (waiting area before catching your wave).

Pop up: The critical manoeuvre of standing on the board after paddling and catching a wave.

Wipeout: Falling off your board. It happens to everyone!

Wave conditions

Knowing your words around waves is crucial. Here are some key terms:

A-Frame: A wave shaped like a peak that breaks evenly on both sides.

Beach Break: A wave that breaks over a sandy bottom. Ideal for beginners, especially in Bali where many surf spots offer beach breaks.

Choppy: Short, irregular waves with little power.

Gnarly: Intense, powerful waves that can be challenging or dangerous.

Glassy: Calm, smooth waves with a glassy surface, ideal for surfing.

Head-high/Chest-high: Used to describe wave height relative to a surfer’s body.

Point Break: Waves that wrap around a point of land or rocks, creating long, peeling rides.

Reef Break: A wave that breaks over a coral reef or rocky seabed.

Swell: A series of rolling waves generated by distant storms.

Board Manoeuvres

Performing tricks and manoeuvres is part of the fun during your surf sessions! These terms describe some popular moves:

Aerial: An advanced manoeuvre where the surfer and board launch into the air.

Air: Performing a jump off the wave with the board.

Backside: Surfing with your back to the wave.

Bottom Turn: A crucial manoeuvre where the surfer turns at the wave’s base to gain speed and set up for another move.

Carve: Smoothly turning the board along the wave face, drawing a line in the water.

Cutback: Turning sharply back towards the breaking wave.

Duck Dive: A fundamental technique surfers use to navigate under oncoming waves while paddling out on their surfboard to the lineup.

Floater: Manoeuvring the board horizontally across the wave face.

Frontside: Surfing with your body facing the wave.

Snap: A sharp turn executed with weight transfer and body movement.

Turtle roll: An Eskimo roll is another technique surfers use to navigate under oncoming waves (especially with soft tops or longboards).

On the Shore

Bro: A casual term for a fellow surfer, regardless of gender.

Ding: Any damage to a surfboard, like cracks, holes, or fractures. (always check for dings before hitting the waves).

Grommet: A new, young or inexperienced surfer.

Hang Loose: A hand gesture with an extended thumb and pinky finger, also known as a Shaka, symbolising relaxation and good vibes!

Kook: A term for a beginner surfer who overestimates their abilities. You don’t want to be a kook! Our Learn-to-Surf Program is the perfect foundation for getting started in surfing and not being one!

Leash: The cord connecting your ankle to the surfboard to prevent it from getting lost in the ocean.

Local: A surfer who lives near a specific surf spot and has priority over outsiders. Respect local surfers!

Ripping: Surfing very well, performing impressive manoeuvres on the waves.

Wax: A sticky substance you should apply to the surfboard for better traction and prevent yourself from slipping.

Stoked: Excited and enthusiastic about surfing.

Quiver: A surfer’s collection of surfboards for different wave conditions.

During Surfing Competitions

Heat: A competition round where a small group of surfers (usually compete for the highest score.

Heat score: The points awarded for each wave ridden, based on difficulty, style, and wave completion.

Priority: The surfer closest to the peak (highest point of the wave) has priority to catch the next wave.

Interference: When one surfer hinders another’s ability to catch a wave.

Judge: Officials who score each wave based on a set of criteria.

Air reverse: A challenging manoeuvre where the surfer flips the board upside down in the air.

Combo: Performing multiple manoeuvres on a single wave, maximising the score.

Hang Ten: Riding a longboard with both feet on the nose and toes hanging over the edge while balancing!

World Surf League (WSL): The most profound organisation for professional surfing competitions worldwide.

Beyond the Words

Understanding surf language is a great first step, but don’t forget the unspoken language of surf etiquette. Respecting fellow surfers, safety first, and leaving no trace is essential for a positive and fun experience in the water!

Are you ready to hang ten? Book your very first surf lesson today!