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Learn the basics of the surf stance and surf better, with more style!

A proper surf stance is one of the keys to unlocking your surfing potential. With the proper technique, you will gain more balance and you will be comfortable shifting weight forwards, backwards and sideways. This translates into being able to accelerate, slow down and turn your surfboard with more control.

Surfing is very different to other board sports like skateboarding and snowboarding. One of the main reasons is that you are riding on top of water. This means that the way you place your feet on the board, and how you distribute your body’s weight on your feet, will have a very important impact on the surfboard’s reaction on the water.

Are you Goofy or Regular?

If you are a complete beginner, the first thing you must figure out is if you are a  “Regular Surfer”, surfing with your left foot forward on the board, or a “Goofy Surfer”, surfing with your right foot forward.

In most cases, surfers ride with their strongest foot (the one they would kick a soccer ball with) at the back of the surfboard. Take note this is not always the case. Another trick is to have someone push you gently in the back. The first foot you instinctually put forward to stop you from falling would most probably be the one you should put forward on the surfboard.

The Surf Stance

Both your feet must be centred on the width of the surfboard.
Your feet arches should be positioned equally on each side of the stringer (or on each side of an imaginary line in the middle of your surfboard if it has no stringer). Not standing up with your feet centred will most likely make you fall on the side on which you put more weight.

Learn to Surf Nicaragua
Learn to Surf Nicaragua

Stance: shoulder width or a bit more. The distance between your feet should be around your shoulder width, or a little bit more. Having either a very small stance, or a very large stance both make it very hard to distribute weight forwards or backwards. This prevents you from accelerating or slowing down when you need to.

Bend the knees & have them pointing in towards each other. The best way to keep your balance on the board is to compress the lower body down while keeping your upper body straight. Not only should your knees be bent, but they should be pointing in towards each other. This makes it way easier to shift your hips backwards and forwards, shifting your weight to accelerate or slow down. Tuck your back knee inside a bit more to help you gain more mobility (and for some extra style points!)

It’s about comfort while shifting your weight. With a good stance, you will be comfortable to shift your weight forwards and backwards quickly. If it’s difficult for you to do this, there might be something wrong with either your stance width or your feet positioning on the board.


Left hand outside left rail, right hand outside right rail.
While you are riding, keep your hands outside each of your surfboard’s rails, even when you are turning. This will help your balance and make it easier to turn. Trying to turn with both hands over the same side of the surfboard will most likely put you off balance. It also prevents you to lead your turns with your shoulders and chest, making it very hard to change direction.

Look where you are going! Once you get the proper stance, don’t forget to look where you want to go as you are surfing. Your head is your steering wheel! 

Common Mistakes

  • Don’t bend your upper body down. This is one of the most common errors we see students do all the time. Bending your chest closer to the surfboard is a reflex many beginners have, as they try to keep balance on the surfboard. This puts you off balance and makes it impossible to turn. If you feel unbalanced, bend the knees and compress the lower body down.
  • Don’t try to turn with your heels and toes like on a snowboard or wakeboard. A surfboard is much wider than a snowboard and you are not attached to the board, contrarily to wakeboarding. Trying to turn only with your heels or toes will make you fall on either side. To turn a surfboard, you need more than a bit of weight on your heels or toes. You must start by turning your head, then your shoulders, then your hips in the direction you want to go to.
  • The Poo Stance: knees pointing appart. If your knees are going apart, in opposite directions, you will look like you are taking a poo on your surfboard. Not only does this look bad, it also makes it very hard to move your hips forwards and backwards. This will prevent you from being able to slow down or accelerate.

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We share our love of surf trips because they changed our lives.

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  • “The best part of my trip with Barefoot was how much I improved my surfing. I’d done a bunch of single surf lessons before & this was the first time I actually felt like the surf guides were instructing, critiquing & pushing me to get better at surfing.”


    Katherine G. 31 / Toronto, Canada
  • “The total experience exceeded expectations, staff was knowledgeable, professional, and gracious. Accommodations were very welcoming and comfortable. Everything was top notch!”


    Rick Osgood, 53 / Napa, USA
  • “I’ve been traveling to various surf camps for the last 2 years. This trip was beyond incredible, everything from start to finish was top notch and focused on improving my surfing while having a wonderful cultural experience.”

    Micheal, 41 / Boston, USA
  • “Created some great friendships, and experienced a beautiful country in the best week possible. Already trying to figure out when I can plan my next trip with them!”

    Emily P. 26 / Ventura, USA
  • “I couldn’t ask for time spent with more friendly, truly awesome people. The team is very responsive and well organized. My surfing was pushed to another level”


    Brittany M. 34 / Calgary, Canada
  • “The coaches are nationally acclaimed surfers and give great tips to better your surf technique. All in all a great experience.”


    Bao T. 33 / Montreal, Canada
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