Footedness is the natural preference of one's left or right foot for various purposes. While purposes vary, such as applying the greatest force in a kick or stomp, footedness is most commonly associated with the preference of a particular foot in the leading position while engaging in foot, or kicking related sports, such as association football and kickboxing.
Footedness correlates to handedness closely for right-handers, over 90% of whom are also right-footers; right-footedness hence predominates in the general population. Only about half of the left-handers, however, are left-footed.
Footedness in board sports
When one must stand erect on a single, lightweight object that slides along the ground or on water, the need for balance causes one to position the body perpendicular to the direction of motion, with one foot leading the other. As with handedness, when this task is repetitively performed, one tends to naturally choose a particular foot for the leading position.
Regular and goofy
Boardsport riders are "footed" in one of two stances, generally called "regular" and "goofy". E.g. a rider may be "goofy-footed", but this phrase may be abbreviated as "goofy foot" or simply "goofy".
- Regular stance indicates the left foot leading. This stance is less commonly called "natural".
- Goofy stance indicates the right foot leading. In skateboarding, goofy-footedness has no negative connotation. Professionals seem to be evenly distributed between the stances.
- Riding in one's preferred stance may also be called "riding regular" or "riding in regular stance", but this is seldom noted, and presents a potential source of confusion: Here, "regular" means preferred, not left foot forward.
Choosing a stance
When first learning boardsports like skateboarding and surfing, riders generally — but not always — quickly choose a preferred stance that generally becomes permanently preferred. Regardless, significant amounts of practice can yield a high level of ambidexterity between the two stances, such that even seasoned participants of a boardsport have difficulty discerning the footedness of an unfamiliar rider in action.
To increase the difficulty, variety, and aesthetic value of tricks, riders can ride "switch stance" (abbreviated to "switch"). For example, a goofy-footed skateboarder normally performs an ollie with the right foot forward, but a "switch ollie" would have the rider standing with the left foot at the front of the board.
- In sports where switch riding is common and expected, like street skateboarding, riders have the goal of appearing natural at, and performing the same tricks in, both regular and goofy stances.
- Some sports like kitesurfing and windsurfing generally require the rider to be able to switch stance - right from beginner level. The stance chosen depends on the wind/travel direction - rather than rider preference. Each time direction is changed, the stance changes.
- Snowboarders who ride switch (or not) may adopt a "duck stance", where the feet are mounted turned out, or pointed away from the mid-line of the body, typically at a roughly 15 degree angle. In this position, the rider will have the leading foot facing forward in either regular or switch stance.
- Some freestyle skiers inappropriately use the term "switch" when what they're really doing is skiing "backwards" (i.e. traveling downhill while facing uphill). As "switch" refers to moving in a forward direction with your right foot where your left should be (and vice versa), for a skier to truly ski "switch" would actually require them to ski cross-legged.
Fakie vs Switch
When a rider rolls backwards, this is called "riding fakie". A "fakie" trick is performed while riding backwards and a rider can also land in the fakie position. While there are some parallels between switch stance and fakie, riding fakie implies having the same posture used when riding forwards, while switch stance implies a reversal of posture so the torso faces away from the foot the rider usually leads with.
In skateboarding, most tricks performed riding backwards — with respect to the rider's preferred stance — are exclusively categorized as "switch" (in a switch stance) or as fakie, with the general rule that tricks off the tail are almost always described as fakie, and those off the nose are switch. E.g. a jump using the tail rolling backwards is a "fakie ollie" (not a "switch nollie"), and a jump off the nose is a "switch ollie" (not a "fakie nollie").
Mongo foot refers to using one's front foot for pushing. Normally a skateboarder feels more comfortable using their back foot to push, while their front foot remains on the board.
In the minority case of mongo-footed skateboarders, the opposite is true. Some skateboarders who don't push mongo in their regular stance may still push mongo when riding in switch stance, rather than push with their weaker back foot. Well-known skaters who change between mongo and normal when pushing switch are Stevie Williams and Eric Koston.
Although its origins remain uncertain, it is widely believed that the term derives from the pejorative use of "mongoloid".
Other examples of footedness
In association football (soccer), footedness may refer to the foot a player uses to kick with the greatest force and skill. Most people are right-footed, kicking with the right leg. Capable left-footed footballers are rare and therefore quite sought after.
In BMX (bicycle motocross), there is a de facto relationship between footedness and preferences of grinding position and of mid-air turning direction. The terms "regular" and "goofy" do not indicate a foot preference as in boardsports, but rather they point out if the rider's footedness has the usual relationship with their grinding and mid-air turning preferences. For example, consider the following classes of riders:
- right-footed riders who prefer turning counter-clockwise in the air, and grinding on their right.
- left-footed riders who prefer turning clockwise in the air, and grinding on their left.
Both classes are of equal size and would be considered "regular". "Goofy" would describe riders whose trick preferences do not match their footedness: a rider who prefers to grind on the opposite side as do most is considered a "goofy grinder"; one who prefers to turn the opposite direction in mid-air as do most is considered a "goofy spinner". Few riders have either goofy trait, but some riders may have both.
- Peter M, Durding BM (1979). "Footedness of left- and right-handers". Am J Psychol 92 (1): 133–42. doi:10.2307/1421487. PMID 484752.
- Krasnegor, Norman A.; Rumbaugh, Duane M.; Schiefelbusch, Richard L. (2014). Biological and Behavioral Determinants of Language Development. Psychology Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-317-78389-3.
- BRW 29 (28–29). Business Review Weekly. 2007. p. 26. "...a skilful left-footer (a rare trait in soccer), his services are sure to be in demand."
- Brenner, David (1990). Successful soccer. Sackville. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-948615-31-3. "As a natural left-sided player, you'll already know how rare you are as a footballer — and how valuable."