Basic Skateboarding Terminology

Skateboarding Terminology

An introductory list of skateboarding terminology for beginners. 

For those of you who are new to skateboarding you may find yourself being inundated with words and terms you’ve never heard. There are terms for how you ride, where you ride, and almost everything you do while riding. While you can’t learn every term overnight you can begin with a solid foundation. The following are some of the most basic terms that you may come across as you begin skating.

Types of Skating

Vert – Skating done on ramps including the halfpipe and superpipe. Includes progressively more complicated aerial tricks and jumps in addition to some of the more basic elements.

A vert is a half-pipe that reaches vertically and is usually 10-13 feet tall. Used for BMX and skateboarding. The rider gets enough speed from the vertical drop to go airborne and performs aerial tricks.

Street- Freestyle skating that incorporates all of the elements found in urban and suburban settings. Includes skating on and over steps, curbs, rails benches, etc.

Freestyle – with BMX and skateboarding, freestyle involves trick/stunts done while on a relatively smooth surface (ie- pavement). There are no set patterns, and can be done individually or in a “jam session”. (Often referred to as Street or Park).


Goofy footed- A stance in which the right leg is forward

Regular footed- A stance in which the left foot is forward.

Switch Stance- When a skater rides the board with the opposite footing than usual.


Skateboarding Directional Terms

Frontside- A trick done when the skater is facing the ramp or obstacle.

Backside- A trick done when the skater’s back is to the ramp or obstacle.

Heelside edge- the side of the board closest to the skaters heels.


Skateboarding Tricks

Ollie- One of the most basic skateboarding tricks. It is a jump which is performed by tapping the tail of the board to the ground.

Nollie- (related to the ollie) A jump done by tapping the nose of the board instead of the tail.

Kickflip- (related to the ollie) A jump in which the skater kicks the board into a spin before landing back on it.

Kickturn- Turning your board by balancing on the rear wheels while quickly swinging the front of your board around (can be a partial turn or full).

Fakie- A skater stands in their normal stance but the board is moving backwards.

Alley-Oop- A trick that is performed in the opposite direction of where the skater is moving.

Grind- When one or both axles scrape along a railing, edge, curb or other obstacle.

Nosegrind- A grind in which only the front truck is used.

Grab- To grab the board with one or both hands.


Skateboard Parts

If you are new to skateboarding you may not be familiar with the parts of your brand new deck. The following is introductory information about skateboards for those who are new to the sport.

The deck – The main component of the skateboard. It is where the rider stands. (Click here for more information on skateboard decks.)

Trucks – Located on the underside of the board. Trucks are available from several manufacturers and vary in price from $30-$60. Trucks are adjustable. You can try loosening and tightening your trucks until you find the best feel. Trucks consist of:

  • The hanger– the T-shaped part that holds the axel.
  • The axel– runs through the hangar. The wheels are mounted onto each end of the axel.
  • The baseplate– Attaches the truck to your deck.
  • The kingpin– large bolt that holds everything together.
  • Riser Pad– An optional piece of material that can be placed under the baseplate to elevate the truck and wheels to prevent wheel bite.

Wheels – When selecting wheels you will consider the height, width, durometer, and edges. Height- measure in millimeters (mm). Vert riders typically use larger wheels (58 mm or greater). Street wheels are 49mm-53mm. Larger wheels can contribute to wheel bite and the height of the truck needs to be adjusted to account for this.

Width – Wider wheels offer better grip and stability but are also heavier.
Durometer-Measure of how hard or soft a wheel is.
Edges- “Tapered” or “square” wheel edges. Based on rider preference and riding style.
There are no set recommendations for manufacturers or set-up for your board. As you experiment with riding, alterations and various manufacturers, you’ll find the best set-up for you


While this list is by no means all-inclusive, it will give you a very basic introduction to some off the skateboarding terms you may hear. As you spend more time skating and developing your skills you’ll start to recognize the terms and the tricks as if you’ve known them all your life. Before you know it, you’ll be inventing (and naming) your own tricks.