Figuring out the perfect stance can be difficult, especially for those who are just starting out surfing. There is a lot to go into the stance, and sometimes it can change depending on the wave, the board, and what level surfer you are.

One of the best stances to be in when you are on the board is centered, feet at shoulder width or more, and low. This means you should have your feet parallel with your shoulders or wider without being off balance. But there are so many other factors that can change the width of your stance. 

With all the variables that go into your stance, sometimes it is hard to decipher what is best for you. Here is a guide to the perfect position for your stance.

What Type of Surfer Are You?

First, we need to figure out what type of surfer you are. There are two types of surfers when it comes to the basic stance: goofy and regular. The regular stance for surfers is having your dominant or stronger foot near the back of the board. 

The goofy stance is when you put your non-dominant foot near the back of the surfboard. This is less common than the regular stance, but there are people who use this stance. 

An easy way to discover which one you are, have someone gently push you forward to see what foot comes forward to stop you from falling. This foot will be the one you put forward on your board.

Where to Place Your Feet?

There are many mistakes when putting your feet on the board. Three things that will be explored is the width of the stance, placement on the surfboard, and where the feet or knees need to be pointed.

Width of Stance

The best width your feet need to be apart is shoulder width or a little bit wider. So if your shoulder width is 12 inches apart, then your feet should be 12 inches apart. Some people are a little more comfortable to have their feet a little wider. Using the example, you may want to have your feet 16 or 18 inches apart instead of 12.

Make sure your stance is not too wide. If you find yourself having trouble gaining balance or can be easily pushed over, then you won't have great balance when you are on the wave.

Placement on Surfboard

Placement of your feet on your surfboard is important. You don't want to stand too far forward or too far backward. Leaning forward causes your board to speed up, and leaning back causes your board to slow down.

Having your feet placed incorrectly on your board can also cause your board to flip over one way or the other.

To find the best placement, you will need to first find the "stringer." There are two ways to find the stringer. One, sometimes, there is a line drawn down the center of the board. The second, imagine a line going down the center of the board. Now you have sights on the stringer. You will be able to find the perfect placement.

Your feet need to be on the stringer of the board. Your front foot will be near the center of the board's length, and the back foot should rest a little bit away from the tail end. This is a good place to start but may need some adjustment as you become more experienced.

Where to Point Your Feet Or Knees?

Where you point, your feet can be your success or your mistake. When your feet are pointing outward, it is difficult to withstand any force or movements from the wave. If your feet are pointed towards each other, it is just awkward. You want to feel strong and comfortable when riding that wave.

Your knees should be pointing together and bent. One foot is slightly pointed forward, while the back foot is parallel to the board's width. This allows you to shift your weight easier and makes it easy for you to move your feet when necessary.

How You Take Off Impacts Stance

Taking off is essential to surfing, and it affects how you will stand on your board. If you can't take off, then you can't surf. Your stance will change depending on what wave you are surfing. 

If the wave is small and/or slow, you will need to move to the front of your board to gain more speed and surf longer. You can also shift your weight forward. If you don't, you may get knocked off your surfboard, or the wave will move past you.

If the wave is fast, hollow, and medium-sized, you may need to put on the brakes. To do this, you put your weight near the back of the board or move closer to the tail. This will help you get destroyed by the wave and allow you to stay in control.

If there is a lot of wind and the water is quite choppy, you may need to lower yourself to absorb the waves like shocks on a vehicle does. 

You will use the same technique as you did for choppy water as you would larger waves. The crouching position provides more control, especially when reacting to the ocean's force. 

How Can I Improve My Surfing Stance?

Over time, your surfing stance will improve. It takes quite a bit of practice before considering yourself an expert. There are a few ways to improve your stance:

  • Moving your feet
  • Proper stance
  • Placement of your back foot
  • Use your entire body
  • Adjustment

Moving Your Feet

As a beginner, you may not move your feet or shift your weight much. You're just learning to walk. Why would you immediately start running? But as you start to feel relaxed and at home on the board, start moving your feet. 

Moving your feet will help you better your stance and make it easier to change positions and react to the waves.

Proper Stance

Always make sure you are in the proper stance when surfing. It is easy to shift back into bad habits, especially if they come naturally to you, but this is important. If you don't have a proper stance, it can cause you to "wipe out" easily, which is frustrating.

Placement of Your Back Foot

Many coaches say that the biggest mistake is not putting your back foot far enough back on the board. Make sure you aren't making this mistake. It may seem unnatural or scary, but once you realize the power it gives you, you will start to see yourself improve tremendously.

Use Your Entire Body

Don't just use your legs and your feet when surfing. Utilize your entire body. This will help you maximize your core and your strength so that you can successfully maneuver and keep yourself from falling. It will also help you transition into doing those cool tricks you see pros do.


Make sure you are adjusting your stance to your style. Not everyone is going to have the exact same stance. If one stance is not working for you, then try changing it up a little bit. You will eventually find the position that is best suited for you.

What to Avoid in Your Stance

There are many mistakes you can make while surfing but one stance to avoid at all costs is the "poo stance." The name is exactly what you think it to be: it looks like you are going to the restroom on the board. 

Refrain from squatting down low with your knees pointed outwards. This limits your hip movement, which is crucial to controlling your surfboard.

What Is the Perfect Surf Stance Width?

Your stance may change over time as you become more comfortable on the board. Just remember that the best width is shoulder width or a little bit wider. Dabble in different widths to see what fits best for you, and then you will find your perfect match!

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