Surfing Terms / Surfing Definitions

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Learning the surf language you will hear out on the water as you learn how to surf is important if you want to understand more of the sport. Understanding the surfing terms is going to help you know more about what is going on around you.

For example, let's look at the term "outside". This is a term used to describe the area outside or beyond where the majority of the waves are breaking. This is the area where you want to be if you have been practicing in the whitewater and are now ready for some wave faces.

Now that you have paddled out past the breaking waves and you are out in the line-up, what does it mean if you hear people yelling "outside"? They aren't congratulating you on your arival to the line-up. It can actually mean two things. You will know which it is based on their tone of voice and how they react.

Saying, "Outside!" when out in the line-up is letting other surfers know that a larger swell is approaching and will be breaking further out. Now depending on the height of the wave and where it is going to break will determine how the surfers react. If they feel it is going to break in area that they have time to paddle further out and set-up for a ride, they'll be whooping for joy. However, if it is going to break before they can get in position you will see them paddling hard to get out past where it will break, so they aren't caught in the impact zone. You too will be paddling hard. If you are unsure whether a wave is too big, take this advice, "when in doubt, paddle out". Just get yourself out past it and wait for the set to pass.

Surf Language

An aggressive surfer or style of surfing.
This is when you are riding diagonally across the face of the wave before it breaks either to the left or the right.
Surfing with your back to the wave. If you surf normal stance, you will be riding the wave to your left. If you are goofy foot it is a wave going to your right.
Beat Down:
After a wipeout. As the name implies, the force of the water is holding you down under the surface. It is rare to be held down more than 30 seconds.
Bottom Turn:
A hard turn performed near or at the bottom of the wave, turning back up into the face of the wave.
A sharp turning maneuver to perform bottom turns, cutbacks, kickouts and top turns.
Some surf breaks will have a section of deeper water where the surf usually doesn't break, known as a channel. Look for this when you are surfing a new area, it is a good place to paddle out to the outside.
This is when a wave breaks all at once across its face. You don't want to surf one of these waves.
The point at which a wave is just beginning to break.
Cut Back:
When ahead of the breaking wave, performing a turn so that you are now heading back toward the breaking part of the wave.
Drop In:
There are two definitions for this word. The first is used to describe the biginning part of the ride where you are going down the face of the wave gaining speed. The second is used to describe the action of "dropping in" on someone. This means taking off in in front of a rider who is already surfing the wave. Not cool. Also referred to as cutting off or snaking.
Duck Dive:
When riding a short board you can dive under a wave by pushing down hard on the nose of your board to dive under an incoming wave.
The part of the wave that has not broken.
A board usually in the size of 7 to 8 feet. Ideal for beginners.
Goofy Foot:
Riding with your right foot forward. Most surfers have their left foot forward, which is simply called "normal or regular stance".

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