goofy foot surf
Min Read Time

Goofy Foot: Should I Put My Right Foot or Left Foot Forward?

When it comes to board sports, some athletes are called regular footers and some goofy footers. Learn why and which one you are.

foot on the surfboard

Surfing is an interesting sport. You engage in meditation and yoga on a daily basis, live with the dream of busting incredibly complicated airs, and are expected to have a degree of mental strength that could make even the most chill person on the planet, like Dalai Lama, jealous. 

Yet, before all that glory and complexity, even before you sign up for a couple of surfing lessons, you need to answer a question posed to aspiring surfers and those who’re interested in other board sports: “Which one is your natural foot? Is it the right foot or the left foot?”

If someone asked you such a question in a casual conversation, you’d probably be puzzled and then think with a growing sense of self-doubt: “Both are natural, aren’t they? Aren’t they?” After all, it’s not like a lot of engineering went into making one of your feet, and the other was just God-given.

Well, that’s unfortunately not the thinking in board sports. First, there’s a regular stance and then the goofy stance. And the damnedest thing is, both can be categorized as a natural stance as long as left-handed people aren’t discriminated against as well. However, whichever foot is the dominant one gets to decide whether you’re one of the goofy-footed athletes or not.

Now, let’s see how you can assess which is your dominant foot.

What Does Goofy Foot Mean?

surfing goofy foot

In surfing, the positioning of feet is of crucial importance simply because that’s how you’re going to ride a surfboard. Without figuring out where your feet should go, what they should be doing, and why, there’s no chance that you’ll complete a session, let alone improve.

So, let’s give you a bit of an idea. In contemporary surfing, unless you’re trying to pull off tricks like the floater and whatnot, your front foot is only a balancing foot. In other words, you need to lock it onto the midsection of your board and move it as little as possible. On the other hand, your back foot is responsible for shifting weight, turning and twisting the board, and generating speed and control. More often than not, the success of your ride depends on how well you can use that back foot.

All that considered, your dominant foot should go to the tail of your surfboard as that’ll feel more natural for you and provide you with a comfortable riding session. And, if you’re interested in soccer, you probably know that our world is dominated by right-footed people. However, there are also many left-footed players like Maradona or Messi, so you’re not alone even if you’re “goofy.”

It’s the same in board sports. Those who are more comfortable with their right foot are called regular footers, and those who are comfortable on their left are referred to as goofy footers. However, this distinction doesn't really serve a purpose except for determining which one is the lead foot.

How to Determine Whether You’re Goofy Foot

For those who’ve never kicked a soccer ball in their lives, finding out their natural stance can be unexpectedly complicated. Yet, you need not worry, as we have a couple of very simple methods for you to help with your belated self-discovery.

Test #1: Operation Soccer Ball

foot beside a soccer ball

It’s never too late to kick a soccer ball unless you want to be in the books of Brentford Football Club, which never sign a player older than 30. It’s also a great way to determine which foot is the dominant one unless you’re Ousmane Dembele, who can use both his feet with great accuracy and power.

Soccer puns aside, when you kick a soccer ball, naturally, one foot will remain locked in the ground, and the other will do the kicking unless you’re part of a Shaolin soccer team (we can’t help it). It means that the foot that does the kicking is your lead foot, and it should go to the tail of your board.

If that foot happens to be the right one, you’re regular-footed. If it’s the left one, you’re goofy-footed.

Test #2: The Procedure of Slide

Well, where’s a soccer ball when you need one, right? Don’t worry, though; the test called run and slide is an equally boring way to determine your natural stance.

Just run on a smooth and safe surface and slide. During that slide, whichever foot lands on the front is your dominant foot.

Test #3: The Staircase Experiment

feet on the staircase

Sliding around like that, no matter how well you protect yourself, isn’t exactly safe, is it? Especially when you don’t know how to sort your feet, it might cause a couple of injuries, albeit minor. Rest assured, the staircase experiment is much sounder.

You’ll just have to convince a friend to scream “Run!” while you’re waiting at the bottom of a staircase. Once you hear their scream (or once they unleash the demonic dogs of hell after you), you’re going to start ascending the stairs as if your life depends on it. The foot you use to climb the first stair is the dominant one.

Be wary, though, that the more realistic the scenario is, the more accurate the outcome will be. So, you might consider giving your friend a knife, a mask, or at least the license to bite you in the ass. 

No, really; if you think it through rationally, this test won’t do the trick. It has to be an instinctive assessment of sorts.

Test #4: Scrutinizing the Push

Instead of turning your beloved friend into a zombie, you may opt for a much simpler act: having them push you. The push shouldn’t be gentle because you’ll need to feel like you’re going to fall. However, it shouldn’t be too powerful either simply because we don’t want you to fall or lose a friend.

When you feel like you’re going to fall, one of your legs will necessarily go forward to re-anchor you. If the right leg is moving first, then you’re regular-footed. On the other hand, if it’s the left leg, you’re a goofy footer.

If you don’t have any friends, you can lean forward as if you’re going to fall, determine your lead foot, and then go to therapy.

Wrapping Up…

Now, wasn’t that pretty straightforward? Once explained as we did, we believe that deciding whether you’re goofy or not is much simpler than subatomic engineering.

Yet, we need to warn you that it doesn’t really mean or matter much. Nowadays, there’s a skill in the worldwide surfing repertoire that’s called the switch stance. It requires the surfer to switch their feet so that they can show off their versatility. Moreover, there are many great surfers who can ride on both their feet with equal self-possession.

So, no matter how the tests we recommended above result, it’s still better not to give these things much thought and work on improving your stance on both feet.

Written by
Jeremy Dean
surf coaching