Getting Started: How Do You Know If You’re Regular Or Goofy?

What is “regular” and what is “goofy”? These terms refer to the orientation of a snowboarders body in relation to their direction of travel – it’s part of your stance. You stand sideways on a snowboard – so you’re moving with either your left foot forward, or your right foot forward.

  • Regular = left foot forward
  • Goofy = right foot forward

How do you know which one you are?

It’s a common question for beginners – after all, without having snowboarded before, how would you know which foot to lead with?

Have you skateboarded or surfed before? If you’ve tried other board sports, including wakeboarding, freeboarding, etc, you’ll almost certainly use the same stance with snowboarding. Even if you haven’t, something like skateboarding is fairly accessible and very revealing in terms of which “way forward” feels natural.

The “push in the back” test. One method that is often suggested is the simple “push in the back”. Have a friend push you in the back – and whichever foot you naturally step forward with, is the foot that you should lead with on your snowboard.

The “run and slide” test. The most effective test is to run and “slide” – on something like ice, or perhaps a wooden floor, if you’re just wearing socks. When you go into a slide like this you’ll have one foot forward; it’s typical for one direction to feel natural. The foot that you lead with when sliding is likely to be the foot that you lead with when snowboarding.

They key point here is that one direction is going to feel more “natural” than the other. Admittedly, if snowboarding and similar types of board-sports are completely new to you, it can be hard to figure it out; to be sure. Especially in the very beginning because it’s difficult to actually snowboard!

How much does it matter?

The question is, what happens if you get it wrong? Some people will say that it’s important to get this right! Personally, I think it isn’t such a big issue. Here’s why I don’t think it matters too much.

If you’re not getting a clear feeling for which is the “right” way, just pick one and try it. You’re probably not yet comfortable enough on your snowboard to be able to tell, to feel it.

Stick with it until you’re linking your turns riding that way. Don’t swap and change from one direction to the other – you’ll end up confusing matters and spending more time worrying about your stance than snowboarding, feeling like you’re not getting anywhere. Once you’re linking turns, if you’re still not sure, try the other way…

Learn to ride “switch” early! A common goal for many snowboarders is to learn to ride switch – and for good reason. It’s a positive challenge and there are always moments on the mountain when being able to ride in both directions is helpful. If freestyle snowboarding is something you’re interested in, or might be interested in, riding switch is almost essential.

In this way, it’s not really possible to pick the “wrong way” to learn. At some point, you’re going to try the other way too. If it turns out that you prefer the other direction it’s no big deal – you definitely didn’t waste your time learning the “wrong” way. Look at it like this: you’ve got a head start with your switch riding.

You might benefit from a symmetrical stance. This isn’t a recommendation for every snowboarder to use a centred, duck stance. “Stance” here is referring to the angle and position of your bindings – not the direction you ride in. The stance you end up with should be what feels good, for you…

However, if you’re not sure whether you’re goofy or regular, and/or you know that switch-riding is going to be on the cards, there’s no harm in starting out with something close to symmetrical. Something like +15/-15, +18/-12, +18/-9… Such a setup gives you a stance that is more receptive to riding in both directions.

Once you’re linking turns, if you still want to experiment with regular vs. goofy, you won’t be playing around with your bindings all day long.

Learn to Snowboard

This article is part of the afterbang Learn to Snowboard Guide. If you’re just getting started with snowboarding – check it out.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Getting Started: How Do You Know If You’re Regular Or Goofy?”
  1. dewei says:

    “The question is, what happens if you get it wrong? Some people will say that it’s important to get this right! Personally, I think it isn’t such a big issue. Here’s why I don’t think it matters too much. ”

    Yes, this is the best piece of advice : don’t worry about it. I’ve not seen it spelt out so clearly before despite reading lots of forum threads and snowboard advice webpages.

    Most people will have a favoured leg forward. Some strongly so, some slightly so, a few are genuinely ambidextrous. I suspect I only have a mild preference for one leg. In my first lesson, I was asked which leg forward. I didn’t really have a clue but I tried goofy turns. They were linked by the end of the lesson and I did an accidental regular turn with ease.
    That troubled me and at my next lesson on the mountain slope in France, I switched to regular. This basically ruined the lesson, I was not able to link turns till the end of the lesson. The next day, I had 3 hours on my own where I sorted myself with linked turns regular down the blue pistes but I could not ride goofy anymore! After my third lesson (in Tamworth), I’ve made myself ride goofy again.

    Now, I am clearly regular. My switch riding is comfortable but no where as good as my regular riding. This is not surprising given I ride 90% of the time regular. I keep wondering if I had stuck with goofy at the beginning, would have I stayed goofy throughout or still gone back to regular? Maybe, for people with slight leg preference, it is just a question of with which leg forward they have practised more at the start. In other words, tossing a coin might be as good (and easier) as the other tests to determine which leg to lead?

  2. Gavin says:

    Hey Dewei,

    that’s pretty much a perfect example of the situation that some people can find themselves in. If you’re not totally sure (don’t have previous experience of a similar board sport, or, neither leg is jumping out as being strongly favoured) – but you _are_ making progress – stick with it. Get linking your turns – get comfortable with the direction that you started off with.

    Once you’ve got to a certain point – maybe decent turns on a blue run – if you’re still not totally sure, address the question then. But swapping and changing early on in the short term can just confuse matters more – set you back etc.

    If you’re starting to snowboard and you’re not sure which leg to start with – dewei’s suggestion of tossing a coin isn’t the worst approach out there. I’m sure some people would find that appealing. If you’re tried the common “tests” and your friends/instructor have asked you questions to help you figure it out, but you still don’t know – then just pick one.

    If it turns out to not be your “natural” direction, you can be pleased that you started to practice “switch” very early on :)

    Gavin