Skateboarding terminologies you need to know

A photo of durable, long lasting skate shoes. (Etnies Maran Vulcanized)

Just like any other sport, skateboarding has unique terms that describe something, or an action. As a matter of fact, skateboarding is especially filled with terms and names that are unique only to skateboarding.

I am still learning new trick names and terms I didnít know existed. For example, a varial kickflip is a pop shuvit and a kickflip simultaneously thatís all well and good but what if you double kickflip instead of single? I thought it would be called a varial double kickflip. NOPE! That is called a nightmare flip.

You donít have to know all the terms of skateboarding, and you certainly donít have enough time in one day to learn them all. We can help get you started with the most important terms all new skateboards need to know.

5 Stances of skateboarding

We have a great article on this to help explain each of the 5 stances on a skateboard. But here is a quick list of them so you can know the terms.

  • Regular footed stance
  • Goofy footed stance
  • Fakie stance
  • Nollie stance
  • Switch stance

Backside and Frontside

These two terms are heavily used in the world of skateboarding. They are extremely important and knowing the difference can save you some embarrassment.

The words Backside and Frontside in a skateboard tricks name is used to describe one of two things.

  • The direction that you or your board is spinning when performing any trick or trick variation.
  • The location of an obstacle in relation to the skateboarder who uses that obstacle to perform a trick.

Check out our article explaining how to tell the difference from backside and frontside on a skateboard.

The different parts of the skateboard

There are not that many parts of a skateboard that you canít learn them quickly by name. The most complicated components are the skateboard trucks. Read our article on The 7 different parts of a skateboard to get familiar with each component of a skateboard.

Here is a quick list of all the parts of a skateboard.

  1. Deck - The piece of wood that you ride on.
  2. Griptape - Layer of sandpaper tape on the top surface of the deck
  3. Hardware - The (usually) 8 bolts and nuts used to fasten the trucks to the deck.
  4. Trucks - The trucks are fastened to the bottom of the deck and are the axle for the bearings and wheels.
  5. Bearings - 8 bearings are needed for a standard skateboard. 2 for each wheel.
  6. Wheels - 4 wheels attached to each axle rod of the two trucks.
  7. Risers - Shock pads and they can provide more gap between the wheels and the bottom of the deck to prevent wheel bite.

Clean and Sketchy

These two skateboarding terms refer to the way any certain trick looked, or how it felt to the skater. They can also be used to describe any obstacles state of being or level of difficulty.

But keep in mind that you can use these terms to describe someone's overall style. Someone who skates with a clean style, usually has pinpoint accuracy and the trick they do look almost effortless.

Someone who has a sketchy style isnít a bad skater. There is just as much of an appeal for a sketchy style as there is for a clean style. Think about it, when your watching a movie and the good guy just barely gets up the ladder before the zombies grab him. Itís pretty darn exciting. Thatís a sketchy situation. But he got away clean.


Runway is just what it sounds like. Just like an airplane needs a runway to take off. Some obstacles need different amounts of runway to be able to perform the trick or stunt on them. Long flights of stairs need adequate amount of runway so the skateboarder has time to get enough speed to clear the gap.

As an example lets picture a standard set of stairs that has three total steps, and also picture a flight of stairs with 8 total steps. Public structures of all kinds are heavily regulated by building codes. This means that the stairs have to meet a rise over run ratio. This means that the flight of 3 standard stair steps will not be as long as the larger flight of 8 stairs. You would need more runway to get more speed to be able to clear the gap (run) of the flight of 8 stairs.

If you truly love skateboarding, then I am sure I didnít bore you to death talking about stairs just now. No other type of person in the whole world loves innovative architecture more than a street skateboarder.

Types of skateboard tricks

What are Flip tricks

Flip tricks are any type of trick that involves spinning or flipping the board in the air and landing back on the board. The most well known flip trick is the kickflip.

What are Grinds and Slides

A grind is when the skater slides across the surface of a rail or ledge of any kind with the trucks. Itís called a grind because the trucks are made of metal and usually there is a grinding type noise from the friction between the trucks and the skateboard obstacle.

A slide is the same as a grind except you slide on a part of the deck of the skateboard. Like the belly, nose, tail, top surface of the board, or even the wheels.

What are manuals and nose manuals

Manuals (aka mannyís) are the skateboard equivalent to wheelies on a bike. If you ride on just the back wheels for at least 1 second that would be considered a manual. If you ride on just the front two wheels that would be a nose manual. Manuals are usually used as a way to combine tricks into one trick.

If you Ollie and land on the back two wheels then shuvit and land to roll away, you did an Ollie-manual Ėshuv-out. Not an Ollie then manual then a shuvit. Itís all one, like you are linking the tricks together.

Stalls and Plants

rock to fakie on a quarter pipe

For example a nose-stall is when you stall onto an object (no movement) using the nose of your skateboard. A nose-slide is when you slide on an object using the nose of your skateboard.

Any way that you can slide or grind, you can stall the same way.

A plant is just like a stall except you stall with a part of your body. If you stall on your foot it's called a foot plant. The term plant comes from the fact that you stop moving and pose in a certain position much like the life of a plant.

In skateboarding just like in nature there are safe plants and there are dangerous plants. A dangerous plant is falling on a part of your body. We also use this term to describe what part of your body you fell on. If you fall on your face, thatís called a face plant. However! Both types of plants are usually cheered for. If you take hard face plant and walk away, the crowd will be stoked (stoked means excited. If you stoke a fire itís like exciting the flames) for all the same if you did a foot plant and rolled away.

Hill bombing

Bombing hills require an immense amount of balance. When you get to a certain speed you have to basically find your sweet spot of balance and try and hold it. To keep from getting speed wobbles.

The 3 types of skateboarding

There are more than three types of skateboarding, but we are focusing on the three that involve a trick style board. We are not counting longboarding. The three types of skateboarding terms you need to know are.

  • Freestyle - All flatground combination of technical tricks that require a high amount of balance and precision.
  • Vert - Mostly using a ramp called a halfpipe to launch vertically into the air and perform various tricks.
  • Street - Anything goes style of skateboarding. Using creativity to skate on whatever can be found in the concrete jungle.

There are many unique terms in the vast world of skateboarding. It can almost sound like a different language. Now that we have covered most of the basic skateboarding terms you can better understand what your buddies, or better yet, what your kids have been talking about.

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