Surfing begins with the surfer eyeing a rideable wave on the horizon and then matching its speed (by paddling or sometimes, in huge waves, by tow-in). When a surfer catches a wave he quickly jumps to his or her feet and proceeds to ride down the face of the wave, generally staying just ahead of the breaking part (white water) of the wave, called “the pocket” or “the curl”.

Surfers’ skills are tested not only in their ability to control their board in challenging conditions and/or catch and ride challenging waves, but also by their ability to execute various maneuvers such as turning and carving. Some of the common turns have become recognizable tricks such as the “cutback” (turning back toward the breaking part of the wave), the “floater” (riding on the top of the breaking curl of the wave), and “off the lip” (banking off the top of the wave). A newer addition to surfing has been the progression of the “air” where a surfer is able to propel oneself off the wave and re-enter.

“Tube riding” is when a surfer maneuvers into a position where the wave curls over the top of him or her, forming a “tube” (or “barrel”), with the rider inside the hollow cylindrical portion of the wave. This difficult and sometimes dangerous procedure is arguably the most coveted and sought after goal in surfing. “Hanging Ten” and

“Hanging Five” are moves usually specific to longboarding. Hanging Ten refers to having both feet on the front end of the board with all ten of the surfer’s toes off the edge. Hanging Five is having just one foot near the front, and five toes off the edge.

Common Terms:
  • Goofy foot – Left foot on back of board.
  • ake off – the start of a ride.
  • Drop in – dropping into (engaging) the wave, most often as part of standing up.
    Drop in on (or “cut off”) – taking off on a wave in front of someone else (considered inappropriate).
  • Snaking – paddling around someone to get into the best position for a wave (in essence, stealing it).
  • Bottom turn – the first turn at the bottom of the wave.
  • Shoulder – the unbroken part of the wave.
  • Cutback – a turn cutting back toward the breaking part of the wave.
  • Over the falls – out of control, going over the front of the wave and wiping out.
  • Pump – an up/down carving movement that generates speed along a wave.
  • Stall – slowing down from weight on the tail of the board or a hand in the water.
  • Floater – riding up on the top of the breaking part of the wave.
  • Hang-five/hang-ten – putting five or ten toes respectively over the nose of a longboard.
  • Re-entry – hitting the lip vertically and re-entering the wave in quick succession.
  • Switch-foot – having equal ability to surf regular foot or goofy foot.
  • Tube riding – riding inside the curl of a wave.
  • Carve – turns (often accentuated).
  • Off the Top – a turn on the top of a wave, either sharp or carving.
  • Snap – a quick, sharp turn off the top of a wave.
  • Fins-free snap – a sharp turn where the fins slide off the top of the wave.
  • Air/Aerial – airing off the top of the wave.