Surf Vocabulary: A Beginners Guide

December 3, 2016

A beginners guide to surf vocabulary


A tube inside a breaking wave underneath the lip or crest of a hollow wave. A surfer may be completely hidden from view during the barrell ride. One of the best maneuvers in surfing but very difficult to complete due to changing variations in every different wave.

Caught inside

When a surfer gets caught on the shore side of a breaking wave making it difficult to get out, results in getting tossed around and lots of paddling.


Bumpy ocean and wave conditions that are rough due to strong winds and/or currents. Wind velocities are usually over 12 knots to create choppy conditions.


Good conditions, good waves, with a smooth or glassy ocean surface and very little onshore wind. Offshore winds blowing into the faces of the waves can create clean, groomed conditions.


When all parts of the wave – down the line or crest of the wave – all break at the same time. Not suitable for surfing.

Clean up set

A much larger wave or a set of waves, which break further outside than normal. A clean up set usually ‘cleans’ the line-up of surfers caught further inside.

Drop in

A term used when a surfer catches a wave in front of another surfer who is already riding which is a general breach of surfing etiquette. Don’t do this!

Eskimo roll

Another method for getting through broken waves used mainly by longboarders. Sometimes called a Turtle or Turtle roll.


When there are no waves to surf.


When the texture of the ocean surface is like glass. Smooth water surface conditions because there is no wind.

Goofy foot

A surfer who surfs right foot forward and faces the waves on lefts, and faces away from the wave on rights.


A young surfer, usually but not always under 16 years of age. The grommet represents the future of every homebreak. In him, the elder sees himself many years ago and therein exists an unspoken respect, that all parties are part of a rich heritage, tied to the ages.

Ground swell

A swell with a period over 11 seconds between successive waves. Ground swells are born by storms far out at sea sending out waves with a lot of energy making them able to travel far and wrapping into many different surf spots as opposed to wind swell.

Now that you are familiar with surf vocabulary join

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