What Is Goofy Foot Surfing? | A Look at the Surfing Stance

Every surfer falls into one of two categories: regular foot surfer and goofy foot surfer. You may have heard of goofy and regular. These are frequent terms in surfing and skating, windsurfing, snowboarding, and wakeboarding.

Before you start learning how to surf, you need to figure out your surfing stance. This determines which foot is in front of the other when you stand up on your surfboard. There is no right or wrong stance – it all boils down to what makes you comfortable when you try to balance.

Goofy foot surfing always intrigued beginners, primarily because of what it is called. This article is all about what goofy foot surfing is and everything you need to know about this stance.

What Is Goofy Foot Surfing?

Goofy foot surfing or goofy footed surfers refers to the stance where the surfer places his right foot forward and left foot back. A goofy foot surfer is less common than a regular foot surfer, in the same way, there are more right-handed people than left-handed.

The goofy foot is one of the oldest terms in surfing that is still widely used as surfing jargon.

But, where does the term “goofy” come from?

Theory One: Disney’s “Hawaiian Holiday”

Theory one relates it to Walt Disney’s 1937 animated film “Hawaiian Holiday.” The film featured Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck, a crab, and a starfish. Goofy was in his surfing sessions, and he showed a right-foot forward stance before falling off into a horrendous wipeout.

The hitch was – in the movie, Goofy also rides regularly with his left foot forward. Moreover, the term “goofy” originally coined from the word “goff” was by then a derogatory word meaning “fool,” “weird,” or “silly.”

Perhaps, it was why Disney named his character “Goofy,” being a clumsy anthropomorphic dog.

Theory Two: Desmond Muirhead’s “Surfing in Hawaii”

Muirhead was an internationally renowned golf course designer. A former Hawaii resident around the 1960s, he was a frequent visitor in the following years and was described by different golf publications as the most innovative golf course architect.

One of his projects was the five golf courses he designed in partnership with Jack Nicklaus. His controversial designs proved hypocritical criticisms from the world of golf and golf architecture.

His visits back to Hawaii led him to fall in love with surfing. He took lessons and later on became a well-rounded surfer. After his first contact with Waikiki’s perfect waves, he felt like writing a book, so he published one entitled “Surfing in Hawaii.”

Surfing in Hawaii

In his book, the first-ever written reference to “goofy-footed surfers” can be read. In Chapter V, “The Beginner and the Philosophy of Surfing.”, page 51, it said;

“People who put their right foot forward are called ‘goofy foots.’ Personally, I find this position the most comfortable.”

Muirhead’s daughter brought the book back to life when it was republished on SurferToday.com.

Looking at the timeline, Muirhead only started surfing around 1956. His book was published in 1962. This sequence makes it plausible that the expression “goofy-footed” has been in use before 1962.

How To Find Out What Stance You Are?

The simplest way to determine whether you are a regular-footed surfer or a goofy-footed surfer is to identify your dominant foot. If you’ve ever played soccer before, whatever foot you used to kick with is generally your surfing stance. To put it simply, if you used to kick the ball with your right foot – you are probably a regular.

If you haven’t played this sport before, you can try grabbing a broom and start sweeping. Whichever way you find yourself around, this will tend to be your stance.


  • Left foot forward = regular foot surfing
  • Right foot forward = goofy foot surfing

Most right-handed people have their right foot as their dominant foot, too. The same goes with most left-handed people who have left as their dominant foot, as well. This is why most right-handed people have a regular foot-surfing stance, while most left-handed have a goofy foot-surfing stance.

However, this won’t always be the case. As with most sporting activities, it may also rely on how comfortable you are. Some right-handed people prefer goofy foot surfing, and some left-handed prefer regular.

What are Frontside and Backside?

Now that we are clear with the surfing stance, we need to understand the subsequent terms closely related to goofy foot and regular foot surfing – frontside and backside. These two terms relate to the direction your body faces when you ride a wave.


This is when a surfer’s chest and toes are facing the wave. Most regular-footed surfers ride frontside on the waves that are breaking to their right. On the other hand, they ride backside on waves that are breaking to their left.


This is when a surfer’s back and heels are facing the wave. Most goofy foot surfers ride frontside on waves that are breaking to their left. They ride backside on waves that are breaking to their right.

By and large, most surfers prefer surfing frontside to backside since it makes the ride feel more natural, especially when going down the line. As a result, learning how to surf the back side will be more difficult at first.

But, once you progress as a surfer and understand how to shred waves frontside and backside, you might not prefer one over the other. You might even start favoring surfing the backside over the front side.

Ideal Surf Breaks for Regular and Goofy Foot Surfing

Given that most surfers prefer surfing frontside, regular and goofy foot surfers tend to choose surf breaks that present the best waves for their stance. First, understand the difference between a beach break and a point break.

Beach breaks are those where waves break over a sandy bottom, while point breaks are waves that form off a point and break along a stretch of land.

Point breaks are categorized as either a right-hand point break or a left-hand point break. A right-hand point break means waves point mainly to the right. A left-hand point breaks left accordingly. This is why regular foot surfers love surfing at right-hand point breaks, and goofy foot surfers love surfing at left-hand point breaks.

For regular foot surfing, the best surf break is a right-hand point break. On the contrary, goofy foot surfing’s ideal surf break is a left-hand point break. These allow both regular and goofy-footed to exclusively surf frontside on every wave.

Point breaks are perfect spots for you to learn how to surf no matter which surfing stance you ride. However, keep in mind that most of the popular point breaks tend to have a localized circle, so remember to be courteous and follow the proper surf etiquette when you are up in the lineup.

Beach breaks don’t come short for both surfing regular and goofy foot stances, too. Generally, the mood and impression at beach breaks are a lot more welcoming and will give you the option to surf frontside or backside.

The Best Goofy Footers of All Time

Best Goofy Footers of All Time

Adrian Buchan                                   Barton Lynch

Bobby Martinez                                Christian Fletcher

CJ Hobgood                                        Clay Marzo

Damien Hardman                             Damien Hobgood

Derek Ho                                             Gabriel Medina

Gary Green                                         Gerry LopezGlen Winton

Jim Blears                                            Joel Tudor

Kalani Robb                                        Luke Egan

Mark Occhilupo                                Nathan Fletcher

Rob Machado                                    Robert August

Rolf Aurness                                      Tim Curran

Tom Carroll                                         Wayne Lynch


The percentage of left-handed people in the world’s population is just a little over ten percent. This makes goofy foot surfers, as with most minorities, belong to the uncommon, unusual, odd, different, and rare groups.

But, being a goofy foot surfer shouldn’t be an issue. As long as you are comfortable riding the waves with your stance, you are good.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: What is the difference between regular and goofy foot surfers?

A: The difference between the two boils down to how comfortably the rider prefers their feet positioned on the surfboard as they ride a wave.

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