You’d be forgiven for thinking surfing stance is all about Goofy vs Regular and that’s it.
But as you’re about to find out there’s a lot more to it than that.
In this post you’re going to learn:
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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT STANCES IN SURFING?
There are just two different stances in surfing, one where you ride with your left foot forward and the other with your right.
Although we only have two different stances in surfing, we strangely have three different names for them…
SURFING STANCE NAMES
NATURAL OR REGULAR FOOTER
Stance: Left foot forward, right foot back.
Famous Regular Footers: Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Steph Gilmore, Andy Irons, Lisa Anderson.
Stance: Right foot forward, left foot back.
Famous Goofy Footers: Mark Occhilupo, Caroline Marks, Gabriel Medina, Ítalo Ferreira, Tatiana Weston-Webb.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M GOOFY OR REGULAR STANCE
You’ll know whether you are a goofy of regular footer by feel.
Whichever stance feels more balanced and natural, is the stance for you.
But it’s not always this easy.
Some people are more ambidextrous than others and feel comfortable riding with either stance, this can make the whole process confusing.
Ok. Well if you fall into this category and you’re still unsure which stance you are, here are a few tests you can do to help figure it out:
STANCE TEST 1: SLIDING ON ICE
Imagine you were about to run and slide on an iced lake.
Which foot do you lead with?
If you lead with your left, you're likely a Natural footer, and if you lead with your right you'd be Goofy.
STANCE TEST 2: LEAN & FALL
Stand with your feet together and slowly lean over until you fall.
Whichever foot you reach out to balance with will likely be your leading foot in your surfing stance.
STANCE TEST 3: RUN SKIM RUN
Imagine yourself with a skimboard in hand about to run and skim across the water.
Which foot would you lead with?
Run through this in your mind, and your leading foot will likely dictate your stance.
*If you've tried all of the above and you're still unsure, lead with the assumption that you're a Regular footer. Why? As you're about to find out, most people are Regular footed anyway.
ARE MOST SURFERS GOOFY OR REGULAR STANCE?
It turns out that roughly 80% of people surf with a regular stance.
In the same way that most people are right-handed, most surfers are regular footed too.
It has a lot to do with genetics and the way we process things in the brain, but that's beyond the scope of this article so we'll leave it there for now.
SURF STANCES TO AVOID
Alright I know I said earlier that there are only two stances…
…well, I kinda lied.
Sort of at least.
Correct, there’s only two real ways you can ride a surfboard - left foot forward or right - but there are a couple of other stances you want to avoid.
THE SKIER STANCE
The skier stance is when your front foot (or both feet for that matter) are pointing towards the nose of the board, rather than across it.
Why is this a bad thing?
Well, what it does is open up your shoulders and flatten off the chest (note the difference between the angle of the shoulders of a snowboarder vs a skier), and it distributes your weight across your board in a strange way - making things real wobbly and hard to balance as a result.
THE POO STANCE
If you’ve not heard of this yet, you soon will.
The poo stance in surfing is the furthest thing away from good surfing style that you can get.
What is is?
The poo stance is where a surfers stance is wide, with both knees pointed outward in a squat-like position, just like when you’re about to crouch down and take a #@$*
This stance may be practical (to a degree), but it’s ugly as hell so don’t do it!
HOW WIDE SHOULD YOUR SURFING STANCE BE?
Your stance should be a little over shoulder width apart.
If your legs are too close together you’ll find it hard to balance, and if they're too far apart you’ll fall into the poo stance category mentioned above.
AT WHAT ANGLE SHOULD I POINT MY FEET?
A good surfing stance will see you with your back foot at roughly 90° to the stringer, and your front foot roughly 45°.
HOW DO I FIX MY SURFING STANCE
Alright, a bit of troubleshooting is in order I think.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH STANCE AND HOW TO FIX THEM...
1. STANDING TOO TALL
Standing up straight legged when you’re surfing makes it difficult to balance.
Widen the stance a little, and bend the knees.
2. POO STANCE
Practice on land with holding a football between your knees as you stand on your board. With knees bent inward, this is how your knees should be placed.
3. BENT AT THE HIP
Bending at the hip puts your body in a weird centre of gravity.
Straighten up the back, and bend with the knees instead.
4. DOUBLE TROUBLE
Both arms over the same rail of the board - spreads your weight across the board in the wrong way.
Put your leading arm (front arm) on the outside of the heel of the front foot. This helps to open the shoulders slightly and align your weight down the stringer.
WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR WEIGHT WHEN SURFING
There are two answers to this question:
ANSWER 1: WHERE TO PUT YOUR WEIGHT AS A BEGINNER
When you’re just starting out the answer is to put your weight over the stringer of the board, right in the centre - evenly distributed between both feet to help the board plane over the surface of the water.
ANSWER 2: WHERE TO PUT YOUR WEIGHT FOR INTERMEDIATES (AND ABOVE)
There is no fixed answer to where to put your weight at this stage as it all depends on the type of board you’re riding, the type of waves, what you’re trying to do, and when.
Weight distribution at this stage is so nuanced that there’s no hard and fast 'catch-all' rule.
Instead the answer is, “it depends”.
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WRAPPING IT UP
Now, whether your surf stance is Natural or Goofy is besides the question.
What’s important is that you’re doing it right.
Get your stance right and you’re on the right path for improvement.
Better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to be on, than at the top of one you don’t, right?
So, even if you have to take a few steps back in the short term to fix any bad habits, the long term payoffs will be worth it.
Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.