On a controller that has thumbsticks, when it is possible to press down into the thumbstick - not D-pad down, as in UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT, but down on the Z-axis - what verbiage would one use to describe this?

Pictured above: Blue arrows indicate d-pad directions, and a green arrow indicates the inward down direction.

Saying "press down" could easily cause confusion with d-pad directional "down".

There must be some language used in the gaming world to express this.

2 Answers 2


Sony and Microsoft named the thumbstick click as a button itself:

  • On PS they are commonly known as L3 and R3 (since L1 L2 and R1 R2 are on the back)

  • On Xbox they are commonly known as LS and RS (left-stick and right-stick) or even LSB and RSB

  • On Nintendo Switch, according to the mapping menu, they are just referred as "Left/Right Stick Press"

So "press the stick button" could be a good solution.

  • 1
    Has Nintendo given it a name for their JoyCon/Pro Controller? I'd be curious to see what they call theirs.
    – scohe001
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 15:48
  • 7
    @scohe001 according to the mapping menu in the Nintendo Switch, they are just called "Left/Right Stick Press"
    – pinckerman
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 15:55
  • 2
    Steam deck uses the L3/R3 naming, too.
    – masterX244
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 10:28
  • 1
    I distinctly remember the game Sly 2 on the Playstation 2 telling me to press "L3" and me having NO IDEA what I was supposed to do. I didn't even know pressing the stick had any meaning. Even more confusing, the Playstation 2 actually had analog buttons, which detected how hard you pressed them. Only a handful of games used such a feature, so most players didn't know about it, which made the games that did make use of it even more confusing.
    – Lucas F.
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 9:15
  • 1
    Gamepad API calls them "Left stick pressed button" and "Right stick pressed button". w3.org/TR/gamepad/#remapping
    – nondebug
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 16:43

Another common term I've heard is clicking (in) the stick, which is less ambiguous than "pressing" or "pushing" with regards to moving the stick in a direction.

  • 11
    Steam notably uses this terminology when configuring controller button mappings. Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 17:29
  • I don't see "press" as an ambiguous term, since you also "press" a button.
    – pinckerman
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 12:16
  • 1
    @pinckerman Yeah, but you can "press" a stick in different directions. Pretty sure "click" is a standardized term to refer to what the question is asking. Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 5:50

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