When you think of surfing, the first image that probably comes to mind is the classic surfing stance: left foot forward with the right foot at the back. This typical stance allows surfers to use their right foot for balance while the left foot is used to control the direction of the board. A surfer’s stance corresponds to their limb dominance; i.e., if you’re right-handed, you’ll most likely use the classic stance.

However, you might have noticed that some surfers use an opposite stance: their right foot is in the front while their left foot is at the back.

This particular stance is called “goofy foot surfing”.

Let’s find out whether there is a difference between the classic surfing stance and the goofy foot surfing stance, and how you can determine which stance works best for you! 

Origins of Goofy Foot Surfing

There are three popular theories as to the origins of the term “goofy foot surfing”.

The first one is exactly what you might be thinking! The term could possibly be coined in 1950 as a reference to the Walt Disney film “Hawaiian Holiday” where the lovable Goofy used a stance with his right foot forward. 

The second theory proposes that the term might have originated from renowned golf course designer Desmond Muirhead. In his 1962 publication “Surfing in Hawaii”, Muirhead referred to people who put their left foot in the back while surfing as “goofy foots”, and even mentioned that he preferred the stance.  

Finally, goofy is slang that means being silly or weird. Since only around 10% of the world’s population is left-handed, classic stance surfers might have simply used the term goofy-footed to describe the unfamiliar stance used  Simply put, goofy foot surfing looked funny to those who are right-footed.

Difference Between Goofy Foot Surfing and Classic Surfing

Classic surfing refers to the people whose dominant foot is right, meaning their right foot is on the back of the surfboard. When you pop up on your surfboard, it’s natural that you will assume a surfing stance with one foot in front of the other. 

Surfers with a classic stance ride with their left foot in front, while those with goofy feet ride with their right foot in front. Remember, do what feels natural to you since there is no “right” or “wrong” way to ride your board. The difference between a regular and a goofy stance is purely a matter of personal preference.

Determining Your Surfing Style

Typically, your surfing style is dictated by your limb dominance. However, there are four easy tests you can use to identify which style is best suited for you. For each of these tests, make sure to approach them naturally!

1.       Air jump

From a standing position, take a short run and jump as high as you can. Take note of which leg you used to take off for the jump. If you use your right leg, you’re probably more comfortable with the classic stance. If you use your left leg, the goofy foot stance is probably better for you. However, there are some people who still use their right foot to take off from the jump even if they prefer to use the goofy stance. 

2.       Walking up and down the stairs

Approach a flight of stairs at your normal walking pace. On the first stair, which foot did you choose to place? If you stepped on the first stair with your right foot, you’re most likely going to use the classic stance. If you used your left foot, however, you’re more likely comfortable with the goofy stance. Repeat this test several times to see if you get the same result.  

3.       Standing on a surfboard on land

Popping up on a surfboard while on land is a great way to determine which surfing stance works best for you. Since you’re on a flat and stable surface, you can experiment with both classic and goofy foot stances. Your body will naturally pop up in the stance that works best for you.

 4.       Leaning test

Stand up straight and place your feet together. Slowly lean forward until you lose your balance and need to put a foot out to catch yourself. There’s a good chance that you’ll automatically use your dominant foot to stop your fall. If you’re a regular surfer, you will use your right foot. If you’re a goofy-footed surfer, you will use your left foot. 

After determining your foot stance you may now want to know the difference between the backside and the front side to which your body relates when you are riding on to a breaking wave

Backside:

Your back and heels face the wave. Surfers with goofy feet ride the front side on waves breaking to their left, and the back side on waves breaking to their right.

Frontside:

Your toes and chest are facing the wave. Surfers with regular feet ride the front side on waves breaking to their right, and the back side on waves breaking to their left. Generally, surfers like to surf on the front side than the back side because it feels more natural.

 

Best Surf Break for Goofy-footed Surfers

For goofy-footed surfers, the best surf break is a left-hand point break. A left-hand point break allows the best chance for directing the motion and speed of the board. Remember that some popular point breaks draw a small crowd, so be courteous and follow proper surf etiquette when you're in the water.

 

Conclusion:

A surfer with a goofy foot stands on a surfboard with their right foot forward and their left foot back because it is more dominant than their right foot. It is important for surfers to know what kind of stance they should use in surfing because it will give them comfort while surfing.

The four tests mentioned above can help you find the best surfing stance for you, but generally, your body will automatically pop up in a stance that feels natural.

Whether you’re a regular or goofy-footed surfer, remember to stay safe while surfing. Always be aware of other surfers around you and pay attention to the size of the swells. 

Enjoy your ride!

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