surf skating different stances
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What to do if you surf in one stance and skate in the other

Some surfers will find that they may surf as a natural and then they skate goofy. This guide is all about how to navigate that from my own experience.

Some surfers will find that they may surf as a natural and then they skate goofy. This guide is all about how to navigate that from my own experience.

The obvious complaint - should you change stance or carry on?

If this is you and your stances are switched, you’re going to wonder, “what do I do, switch or keep at it?”

This depends on a few things, if you’ve been skating for a while or if you’ve just started and how fast you want the learning experience of skating to be or what’s the end goal.

Reasons to swap

If you’ve just started skating and your surfing stance feels awkward and you are happy to work towards improving your surfing, taking your skating slower. Just switch now and take the harder learning curve at the start.

Ultimately we want to improve our surfing so it’s better to adopt your skating to suit. Swapping your surfing is too hard as you don’t have endless opportunities to train the new stance and this will end up in frustration.

Reasons to keep at it

If you’ve been skating for years and it’s ingrained in you, you're going to have to replace muscle memory and that could be infuriating. It’s going to be a long slog of trying to relearn skating. If you want to just keep progressing and keep it fun, stick with it.

What’s actually going on?

There are two main reasons this can happen.

You’ve either learnt both sports in different stances when young and are just now identifying it.

Or, you have an imbalance in your legs and stance. One leg is very comfortable and one leg is not. Think you are right leg dominant and your left leg is not as coordinated or you don’t have that control.

This can manifest with you being a back footed surfer, being heavy on the back foot and this can be seen in your surfing with the nose of the board sticking up too high from the water. Think the board is dragging at an angle and the back foot is heavy, sinking the tail. You’re not planing on the water surface.

In skating, the front foot offers a lot of control and you are now a front footed skater. Your dominant leg is now controlling the board as you weight the back foot, it’s compressing and extending, creating speed in a bowl and becoming your main balance point.

Understanding this imbalance

When you swap to skating the same way you surf, the front foot on the skateboard is your weak leg that doesn’t have that control, you can’t control the board you want and fear kicks in. Saying this is awkward and not right.

The good thing is you can train it and start again, you just need to understand how this affects your surfing and skating. The weak leg needs to be trained and you’ll need to become aware of it in your surfing, thinking am I heavy on the back foot? A video won’t lie and show it.

Otherwise, you need to take the long path and retrain the weak leg in the same stance as your surfing. Do this with patience and stick with it or train both stances skating. You can constantly train your skating and don’t have to wait for waves, it’s just putting in the time.

Critique your surfing to find the issue

Either way, your surfing and skating on video should show some similarities between the two but also obvious issues and this is a great way to identify them. Such as the back footed surfing as previously mentioned, this is the most obvious but there could be other issues showing up in your surfing that this will easily identify when compared to your skating.

Different stances transferring it to your surfing

The next big issue is does the wrong stance transfer to your surfing?

Yes, it will, but, it takes a bit more effort.

Practice the movements in the skatepark and work on making them efficient and effortless. When thinking about how to transfer them over to your surfing, you need to be aware of the movement and try to understand how it functions.

So the first step is to actually understand the movement and what you need to do. When you go out into the surf, you will just be consciously competent or consciously working on it. Meaning you need to remind yourself how to do it, but keep it simple.

Don’t overcomplicate it, you just need to think about how that movement works and slowly introduce it into your surfing. It’s that muscle memory and mental understanding of how to perform the movement and consciously walking yourself through it while surfing.

It takes time and is a bit slower, just think of it as rediscovering that feeling from the skatepark and that you're tutoring someone on how to find it.

My story

This is me, I surf natural and skate goofy.

I went through this and have been surf skating for over 10 years. I started surfing before I started skating and was taught by my dad. Sometimes as a very young kid, trying skating with friends, I learnt to skate goofy without being aware of what I was doing, I just went with what went comfortable.

It wasn’t until my adult life I really took skating serious and when I started again I had this moment of “oh crap, what’s going on, I can only skate goofy” and it took me a while to remember that’s how I learnt to skate. I tried to skate natural but it just felt horrible so I went goofy without thinking about it.

If I could go back in time I would force myself to skate natural and get through it. I didn’t think about it and just wanted to have fun so I learnt to skate goofy.

Over the years, I’ve thought, yeah I should learn natural but every time it’s painful going back to barely even able to skate, it’s a strong imbalance in my left leg. Each skate I dedicate some time to skating natural to help work on it anyway.

However, transferring it to my surfing hasn’t been that hard. I just have to consciously think about what I am introducing to my surfing and work on parts of that movement each time.

Either way, it’s not that big of a deal to me. Doesn’t stop me from having fun.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching