Surfing Terms

Here is a list of surf terms every beginner surfer should know…

“closeout” – a wave or a large section of a wave that breaks at the same time, making it impossible to continue surfing the open face of the wave

“deep” – the steepest part of the shoulder closest to the peak of the wave is considered the deepest part of the wave. Often when a surfer is “too deep” they are unable to drop in to a wave without falling off of their board

“down the line” – along the face of the wave

“duck dive” – a technique used to paddle out past a breaking wave. Arms push the nose of the surfboard down while the knee or foot pushes down on the tail as the surfer dips below the passing wave.

“face” – the open, unbroken part of a wave

“green wave” – an open wave allowing the surfer to surf along the face of the wave, going either left or right parallel with the beach instead of straight towards the beach

“inside” – when paddling for a wave, “inside” refers to the person closest to the peak of the wave. “Inside” also refers to the shallower part of the water closest to shore.

“kick out” – to surf out of the wave, ending your ride (also called flicking out)

“lineup” – the area where the waves normally begin breaking. Surfers sit on their boards in the lineup and wait for waves to break.

“longboard” – a longer, wider, thicker surfboard. Longboards catch waves much easier than shortboards but are much harder to control and turn.

“left” – a left is a wave that is breaking to the left. The direction “Left” is used by the surfer when describing the direction of the wave while facing shore. Therefore, from the beach, a “left” is described as a wave that breaks from left to right.

“outside” – when paddling for a wave, “outside” refers to the person further away from the peak of the wave. “Outside” also refers to the deeper part of the water, where the biggest waves break, further from shore.

“peak” – the immediately breaking part of the wave.

“right” – a right is a wave that is breaking to the right. The direction “right” is used by the surfer when describing the direction of the wave while facing shore. Therefore, from the beach, a “right” is described as a wave that breaks from right to left.

“section” – a part of a wave. When a surfer “makes a section” a surfer is staying in front of a breaking section of the wave.

“set wave” – a larger wave (the largest waves usually break in sets of 2,3, or 4)

“shortboard” – a shorter, narrower, thinner surfboard. It is more difficult to catch a wave on a shortboard than it is on a longboard, but a shortboard can be controlled/turned much easier.

“shoulder” – the unbroken section of the wave directly next to the peak

“turtle roll” – a technique used to paddle a longboard out past a breaking wave. Longboards are generally too big to duck dive. With the turtle roll technique the surfer turns upside-down and propels the surfboard (also upside down) through the breaking wave.

“whitewash” – the broken white water of a wave moving straight towards shore