I'm always fascinated to watch learners on the shoreline gearing up for their first time in the water. First lesson entails a number of pop ups and getting to your feet technique and stance. Done in a group there will always be some jumping up left foot forward while others right foot forward. In surfing your back foot is your power foot, you do all of your surfing off your back foot and your front foot the balancing foot.
Is there a difference between left and right footed surfers?
Regularfoot also known as naturalfoot is a left foot forward stance on a surfboard and makes up two thirds of the surfing population.
Goofyfoot is a right foot forward stance on a surfboard and is believed to have been coined from a Walt Disney film in the 1950s in which Goofy surfed with his right foot forward. Goofy footers like left handed people seem to be in the minority with only a third of surfers riding this way. The phrase has made its way into use in all boarding sports distinguishing the stance from a regular or natural foot.
Switchfoot or switch stance surfers can ride comfortably in both stance.
As a beginner and finally to their feet after practicing those pop ups, the immediate reaction is to look around and see how the rest of you crew managed. Depending on your personality…the confident ones think “hey you are doing it wrong, look at me” and the ones more weary about making a mistake or seeming foolish with the slight possibility of being wrong quickly switch their foot placement to match the others.
Why do we surf differently? Well one could assume footedness would be the same as handedness where we are guided by the different brain hemispheres in what is termed hemisphere laterization. This tells us that the left hemisphere controls rational thinking, and the right hemisphere controls spatial thinking. We know that the right brain controls left side of body and left brain controls right side of body. In short goofy footed surfers are controlled by the right hemispheres spatial thinking and the natural footed surfers by the left hemisphere rational thinking side.
In surfing as in many other things in life we aren't all the same but there isn't a right or wrong.. it's about being true to yourself and not copying others.