Top 10 Essential Surfing Terms

Surfers are known for being wave catching beach bums. Surfers have their own culture and language is a big part of that. If you are just learning to surf, buying your first board, or just want to understand what's going on in all those surfing movies you have been watching, there are 10 surfing terms you need to know. Read on to find out a little more about surfing equipment, culture, and techniques.


The rail is the outer edge of the surfboard. Rails can be boxy, full, or thin depending on what kind of board they are on.

Foot Wells

Foot wells refers to the pressure dings that sometimes occur on the top of a surfboard where the rider places their feet. Foot wells happen when the rider performs intense torque creating turns that compress the foam underneath the layer of glass.


The word "grom" is short for "grommet" and is usually used in a positive light to refer to young or new surfers. Usually it is applied to young locals who really know how to ride a wave.

Fall Line

The fall line is the perfect spot to drop in on a wave. It usually makes for the fastest drop and is either on the top of the wave peak just before it breaks or right at the edge of the folding lip.

Kick Out

To kick out is to exit a wave. Usually performing a kick out refers to doing so with style and without falling off the board.

Duck Diving

Duck diving is when a surfer pushes himself and his board under the water in the face of an oncoming wave while paddling out. It is incredibly hard to duck dive using a longboard. For that reason, many longboarders prefer to do a turn turtle in which the rider just flips the board upside down to get under an oncoming wave.


A log is an extra long longboard. The board has to be at least nine feet to be a log. Logs usually have a rounded nose and thicker volume, especially in the rail and deck departments.


A fish does not just refer to the sea creatures swimming underneath surfers. It is also a kind of board. The fish board became popular in the 70's. It is shorter than a shortboard, wide, flat, and has a pointed nose, making it look like a fish. It is the perfect board for riding small mushy surf.

Tail Pad

This is a surface application usually applied to the back end of the surfboard to give the surfer better traction. Tail pads are made of neoprene or a similar substance.


To finish up this top 10 list is a nice surf culture word. Stoked means excited, amped, or just really enthusiastic about something.
It does not matter if you are a grom or you have been out on the waves for years or even decades, you know how exhilarating surfing feels. It does not matter if you ride waves on a duck or a log, you feel a connection with the ocean and a freedom that is one of a kind. Practice your surf terminology and you can build the confidence you need to ride some big waves. If you want to add to your surf lingo head to the beach or a surf shop and listen to the locals. One day you might just be a swami, which means an expert surfer usually getting on in years.

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