We know that a lot of our readers are deeply immersed in skateboarding culture. However, some of our friends out there are new to the sport and all the jargon that comes with it. There is a myriad of expressions out there that amount to what’s essentially a whole ‘nother language, so you can consider the below a quick primer to set you on your way.
Is this comprehensive? Hell no—we don’t have the space to cover all the lingo and crazy trick names. But like our Snowboarding Lingo 101 piece before it, this is a crash course from an unlicensed educator, so take it for what it is and let’s have some fun!
Skateboarding Lingo 101
- Am — An abbreviation of “amateur.” If you’re not a pro, you’re this.
- Backside grab/melongrab/mosquito — We’re not really diving too far into specific trick names here—we’ll do that at a later date—but we wanted to feature this one just cuz it’s called a “mosquito” and we’re easily amused. It’s when you grab the heel edge of your board with your front hand while airing backside or forward. (Something to file away for when you’re actually at the skill level necessary to pull this off.)
- Bail — If you’re am and can’t pull off the “mosquito” above, you’re going to end up bailing, which is when you lose your skateboard because you couldn’t land the trick you attempted.
- Bowl — This one’s pretty cool if you don’t already know the history. The 1970s were a time of severe droughts in California—as a result, swimming pools were empty. Clever skateboarders saw this calamity as an opportunity, however, and headed for these “bowls” to carve out some tricks. Once water returned in abundance, bowls officially made their way to skateparks everywhere. This is a classic example of turning a negative into a big, big positive—but, in this case, it actually evolved a sport!
Carve — Making an abrupt turn while in a ramp or bowl without lifting your skateboard’s wheels. Alternatively, zigzagging downhill while on a longboard.
- Focus — Nah, this has nothing to do with concentration. Instead, it means literally breaking your board in half, typically due to jumping/landing on it following a trick.
- Footie — Short for “footage.” In this case, skateboarding video footage.
- Halfpipe/vert ramp — A ramp with a flat bottom that incorporates a concave transition that creates vert (vertical) on both of its sides.
- Hip — Where two riding surfaces meet at an angle, usually from a 300-degree angle to a 90-degree angle. These surfaces enable skateboarders to ride, jump, and/or grind over them.
- Late Trick — Starting and pulling off a trick after your board is at its peak height or following another trick but prior to hitting the ground.
- Ollie — This is important for a 101 course because the Ollie acts as the basis of most other tricks. This is when your back foot pushes down your skateboard’s tail and your front foot pulls it up into the air.
- Railslide — Don’t overthink this one—it’s simply when you use your board to slide down an object using the area between the axle assembly.
- Ripper — A kickass skater.
- Session — When skaters gather together to skate.
- Truck — Another name for the axle assembly on the bottom of your skateboard (baseplate, hanger, axle, its various nuts, etc.). See: “railslide” above.