Goofy Surfing vs. Regular Surfing- Surf Stances Explained

One of the first things you’ll have to do when learning how to surf, is discover your natural surf stance, and find out if you’re goofy footed or regular footed. If you’ve ever skated, snowboarded, wakesurfed, or participated in any other board sports, you’ll likely already know if you’re regular or goofy. If not, it’s time to find out!

In this post, we’ll be covering what goofy surfing is, what regular surfing is, the origin of the term “goofy footed”, and more.

Goofy Surfing

Santa Barbara Surf, goofy surfer
Goofy footed surrfer

If you surf with your right foot forward, and your left foot on the back of the board, join the club- you’re a goofy surfer. Personally, I love being goofy. Most of the other surfers in the lineup are regular, and tend to go more for rights. Since I’m goofy, I have a bit of an advantage on the lefts, and can typically take off deeper than a lot of the regular surfers in the lineup. 

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Origin of the term “goofy footed” 

The surfing term “goofy surf” or “goofy footed” has a really interesting origin story. While nobody knows for certain, most believe that the term goofy surfer was coined from a 1930’s Disney flicwhere Goofy learns to surf. In the cartoon, Goofy surfs with his right foot forward, aka in the “goofy stance.”

Others believe the term “goofy footed” came from 1960’s skate culture, because those riding with their right foot forward were “riding goofy”. Personally, I prefer the Disney story, and I’m going to choose to believe that’s the origin of the term goofy surfer. 

Regular Surfing

Santa Cruz surf, regular surfer
Regular footed surfer

Regular surfing, or being “regular footed” is when a surfer rides with their left foot forward, and their right foot on the back of the board. It’s much more common for surfers to be regular footed. Some polls have shown that about 25-35% of surfers are goofy footed, leaving the majority of riders to be regular surfers. 

How to know if you’re goofy or regular

To determine if you are a Goofy or Regular surfer, you can perform a simple test known as the “Push Test.” Here are the steps:

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms relaxed by your sides.
  2. Ask someone to give you a gentle push from behind, as if they were trying to knock you off balance.
  3. Note which foot you instinctively put forward to regain your balance.
  4. If you step forward with your left foot, you are a Regular surfer. If you step forward with your right foot, you are a Goofy surfer.

Alternatively, you can just go for it- try a pop up on land, and see which foot naturally comes forward first. Your surf stance is super instinctual, so it won’t be too hard to figure it out- but you still want to know! Figuring out your surf stance early on is super helpful for beginner surfers.

Goofy surfing vs. regular surfing- which is better?

One isn’t really better than the other, although there may be certain advantages at different surf breaks. If you live somewhere with a lot of right hand point breaks, you might have an easier time riding if you’re regular, since it’s a little easier to surf frontside than backside when you’re first starting out. 

However, performing backside turns is actually a little easier, so if you’re a goofy surfer riding a break with a lot of rights, you might have a blast- and vice versa.

Overall though, it doesn’t matter too much what your surf stance is. Just be sure that whatever your surf stance is, you put your leash on your back ankle. So, if you’re goofy footed, you’ll want your leash on your left ankle, and if you’re a regular surfer, you’ll want your leash on your right ankle. It’s important to have your leash on your back ankle so you don’t trip over your leash when you pop up and try to catch waves by having it on your front ankle. 

The best goofy surfers in the world

Some of the best goofy surfers of all time include Derek Ho, Maya Gabeira, Bethany Hamilton, Gabriel Medina, Gerry Lopez, Rob Machado, Tim Curren, and CJ Hobgood. 

Can you switch your surf stance?

Yes, it is possible to switch your surf stance, but it can take time and practice. Switching your surf stance is often referred to as “switching feet”,  “going switch,” or “riding switchfoot” and it can be a great way to challenge yourself and improve your surfing skills.

To try out the opposite surf stance, you can start practicing your pop-up on land. This will help you get a feel for the opposite stance.

Before riding switch, consider your surfing equipment! It’s important to note that switching your surf stance might get you tangled up in your leash. If you plan on riding switch for a whole session, you might want to switch what foot your leash is on. If you’re planning on experimenting mid-wave, you might want to just leave your leash, but watch out for it. 

I’ve found that riding switchfoot is much easier on a longboard than a shortboard. I’ve also tried riding switchfoot while wakesurfing, which was super weird at first, but really fun. I think one of the best ways to practice riding switchfoot (besides in the water of course) would be on a surf skate, because then you can really practice the pumping motion. 

Ultimately, switching your surf stance can be a fun and rewarding challenge to try out in the water. A lot of pro surfers are really good at riding switch- in fact, there’s even a surfing competition in San Diego called the Switchfoot Bro-Am, where all the competitors ride switchfoot. 

Goofy surfing vs. regular surfing- final thoughts

In conclusion, understanding the difference between goofy surfing and regular surfing is an important aspect of learning how to surf. Don’t worry too much if you don’t know your stance when you first start out- Whether you’re a goofy surfer or a regular surfer, you’ll find out quickly enough, because your surf stance is whatever feels most natural to you. 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, for more surfing tips, surf info, or for help planning surf trips, check out my FREE Facebook group- Surf Travel Tribe. Happy surfing! 

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