Footedness, similar to handedness, 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 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.
- 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.
Origins and myths
- The term "regular" may originate from any early belief that most boardsport participants are regular-footed.
- "Goofy" is a term that was coined early in the history of snowboarding. It was inspired by French alpiniste Bruno Gouvy, who rode with his right foot forward. Gouvy is famous for many first snowboard descents of extreme routes in the Alps during the late 1980s. (Goofy has been used in Surfing since the 1960's, so this reference should be treated with caution)
- Unlike handedness, it's likely that the distribution of participants in boardsports is evenly split between regular and goofy riders.
- In skateboarding, goofy-footedness has no negative connotation, and professionals seem to be evenly distributed between the stances.
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" (ie. travelling 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 football, footedness may refer to the foot a player uses to kick with the greatest force and skill.
In BMX, 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.
- In the competition, "Etnies GvR" ("Goofy vs. Regular"), a group of regular and goofy-footed skaters compete in opposing teams.[dead link]
Like handedness, footedness can be difficult to predict, but some informal tests could help in this speculation:
- Ask a subject to imagine sliding across an icy pond, then ask which foot he or she would prefer in front.
- Push a subject gently from behind, and note which foot is put forward to regain balance.
- Ask a subject to climb steps, and note which foot is placed on the first step.