If you're getting into board sports — skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing — you can expect to have your fair share of gnarly falls in the beginning. There's probably no avoiding that unless you were born an expert, but one thing that you can do to keep embarrassment at bay is to know your board stance. This will make it easier to realize your potential quicker, learn new tricks, and keep your ego bruise-free.
Your board stance is the natural way you stand on your board when engaged in the activity or sport. This means you'll have one foot in front and the other in the back for stability. The board stance that is most natural for your body will help you learn the sport quicker and feel more confident.
Goofy vs. Regular Stance
Let's start at the very beginning. Boards have a nose (front) and a tail (back), and you place one foot toward the nose and the other toward the tail when you're riding any of them. Where you place each foot tells you if you're riding regular or goofy. The dominant leg is responsible for your stability, so you'll place it toward the back of your board to keep the balance you need to succeed in your sport.
Your stance is regular if you lead with your left leg, placing it toward the nose of your board, and your right leg toward the tail. The regular board stance happens to be the most common, but it doesn't matter which hand is most dominant as that's not guaranteed to transfer to your legs. All that matters is that you go with whichever stance is most natural for your body.
Your stance is goofy if you do the exact opposite of regular and lead with your right leg, placing your left leg more toward the tail, or back, of your board. Although the goofy stance is less common, plenty of pros use it, including skateboarding pros like Chris Russell and Felipe Gustavo. Chris Russell started in skateboarding at a young age and went on to win multiple contests, while Felipe Gustavo won a national contest before he was even known as an athlete in the sport.
Whether you have a regular or goofy board stance doesn't affect your riding ability, style, or how fast you can go. However, if you're riding switch, which is when you're riding in a stance that's opposite of your natural stance, you may not find the success you're hoping for. When your body is in a different stance than it's wanting to be in, you may struggle with balance and performing well on your board.
One thing that's important to know is that there are a lucky few who can ride in both stances with equal ability. So if you have tried and succeeded using both goofy and regular stance, take a moment to pat yourself on the back — you might fall into this coveted category.
Comparing Stances for Different Board Sports
As you can expect, each board you use for a specific board sport will differ from the next. It's most common for your board stance to remain the same, no matter which board you're riding, but there could be some differences. Here is what you should know.
When you're skateboarding, you'll need some balance and you may fall a couple of times as you figure this part out. Don't get discouraged. Instead, get back on the board and practice which foot feels better on the board versus which feels better pushing off from the pavement as you gain momentum.
Since you have to strap yourself onto your board before taking off, it helps to have an idea of which stance you have beforehand. If you don't know, start with one stance on smaller hills so you don't find yourself in a dangerous situation. For regular board stance inspiration, look into pro snowboarder Brock Crouch. Brock entered his first contest with the USA Snowboard Association at the young age of six, later placing first at the 2016 FIS Snowboard World Cup in Korea.
There is also a lot that goes into determining your optimal wakeboarding stance, including how far apart your legs are from each other. But just like the other boards, whether you have a regular or goofy stance will depend on your comfort.
For surfing, you'll get to know your board stance by just trying it out for yourself. Your stance here can be the same as other board sports or not, but remember that it's better to have a lower center of gravity.
Tips for Finding Your Board Stance
Here are tips for finding out which board stance your body gravitates toward.
1. Kick a ball
We're talking about boards here, but playing a little bit of soccer will help you determine which one of your feet is the dominant one. Get out in the yard and see which foot you kick with. Whichever it is, chances are this is your dominant foot and the one you'll place closer to the back of your board.
2. Slide on the floor
This tip is a fun one. Just put on socks and slide across a tile or wood floor in your house, running across the floor and jumping to activate your slide. How you naturally land is probably your board stance.
3. Take a shove
This tip requires a buddy. Start by standing up straight, facing away from a friend with your eyes closed. Ask your friend to give you a small shove on your back that's strong enough to cause you to place one of your feet out in front to balance yourself. This foot is your dominant foot and will probably be toward the back of your board to assist with stability.
The best way to find out your board stance is to practice both regular and goofy stances to see which comes naturally. Pay attention to how your body feels when standing and moving. Start with an hour in each stance, doing regular riding and any tricks you know, including jumping, to give each stance a fair shot of coming out on top.
The cool thing about board stance is that even once you've gone through the steps to figure yours out, you can always change it later. Your body will adapt the more you work on something, so you may be both a regular and goofy rider by putting in some time.
You'll be glad for the balance and ease it provides to your board ride, plus how much more fun the sport is once you feel comfortable.