The foot stance you use when riding a bike is rarely thought about, much less discussed outside of BMX or mountain biking. Riding regular or goofy on your morning commute doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
Knowing your riding stance or changing it up doesn’t really matter until you start progressing your tricks and complex riding. Sometimes known as 'Footedness', the preference of foot positioning when riding your bike or doing other sports, is effectively the same as handedness. In this article we will go through the various ways to determine your riding stance, what that means and how to perfect harder tricks once you know this stance.
In BMX and dirt jump biking the riding stance, bar spin direction, physical spin direction and grinding position is all closely linked. All of these aspects change whether you’re riding is considered regular or goofy.
What BMX Stance am I?
Knowing for certain what stance you use on your bike isn’t essential. It’s not like you need to remember it for next time you jump on a bike. It will just happen as soon as you start riding. It’s all about what feels more comfortable.
If you start getting to the stage where you’re learning barspins and 360’s but still having problems, then you might want to have a look into learning tricks with a switched stance. You’ll have to take a hit to your skill level, but some people have found learning tricks with their other foot forward to be much easier.
There are a few different methods you can use to find your preferred stance if you can’t figure it out while riding.
The first method I like to recommend to figure out your riding position is the simple push. This is a great method because it doesn’t need a bike, just a friend. You can do this anywhere.
To use this method, firstly stand in front of your friend or comrade. Ask them to give you a push. Not so hard that you fall over but you need enough force to knock you off balance. When you fall backwards and take a step to brace yourself stop and take a look at which foot you used to step backwards. This is nearly always your front foot. You’re right, this sounds like a bit of a weird way to judge your riding stance but it’s actually a very reliable method. When you’re pushed your brain subconsciously reacts, protecting yourself from falling over. The easiest way for your brain to do this is to quickly step backwards with your dominant foot.
If you live in a cold part of the world you can try a similar but much more fun method. Find some ice and simply go for a slide. The foot you automatically put in front is to be used as your front foot when cycling.
Since it’s not Impossible to slide with your other foot first this method isn’t fool proof but like I said, it’s much more fun.
Perfect BMX Foot Position
Since we're talking about riding stance, I think it’s only right we also discuss the perfect foot position to use when riding your bike.
Over the years I’ve seen many people make riding very difficult for themselves by placing themselves, their feet and their pedals in totally the wrong place.
When jumping on your bike make sure to place the ball of your foot comfortably in the middle of your pedal. The back of your foot should hang over the rear of the pedal much more than the front. Having said this, you shouldn’t be able to see the front of your pedal when riding.
Once you have your riding position perfected, you’ll find many aspects of your riding much easier. Your stability and shock absorption will be greatly improved and since your body will be positioned as the bike manufacturers intended.
What does Goofy Stance Mean?
The word goofy is an odd one. It’s been around nearly as long as most of the sports that use the word. Many people believe the term came from a 20th century Walt Disney film in which the character Goofy rides his surfboard with his right foot forward. This story is wrong. While there is a film where this happens, Goofy and all the other characters also ride in a regular stance which sort of defeats the point.
Goofy riding has always had the connotation of being a bad thing. It’s a lot like being left-handed when writing. It gets joked about since there are fewer people that are left handed.
Back in 1570 the word made its way into the English language. Originating from the word ‘goff’, meaning fool. Later in the century, 1962 in fact, Desmond Muirhead mentioned the word in his surfing memoir along with his definition. The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English agrees with Muirhead describing goofy foot as a noun meaning a surfer who rides with his right foot forward.
Goofy became widely used over the next few years, being used heavily in the surfing scene. The term hasn’t broken its way into the biking scene by this time.
What is a goofy stance?
Now we know a bit more about the history of the stance and the term Goofy we can finally explain what is and how to tell what stance you are.
You probably guessed by reading the above paragraph that Goofy is a word for describing the irregular riders in many sports. Statistically the difference between regular and irregular riders isn’t that large. According to several publications, the split is 56% to 44%.
Unlike board sports where the difference between regular and goofy stances is the preference of one foot over the other being at the front of the bike/board. In BMX you can discern your stance from the relationship between your grinding side, mid-air rotation direction and front foot.
In BMX the rider can be described as a regular or goofy rider whether they ride with their left or right foot at the front.
A Goofy rider is one that spins the same direction as his front foot. So, if you ride with your right foot forward and like to spin clockwise then you can go ahead and call yourself a Goofy rider.
What is riding switch?
You will have probably heard that a rider is ‘riding switch’ or a trick being performed as switch. If you don’t understand this then it’s totally fine. A lot of people don’t.
The definition of ‘switch’ in the BMX world is quite controversial. The term is used in two different circumstances. There’s the switch stance or feet and the switch trick. Neither of these are that complicated to understand.
From my experience and research most, people think switch stance is the correct way to use the term. Having a switched stance is like a regular stance boxer fighting southpaw. The rider will just switch from whichever stance they are normally to the other, whether it’s goofy or regular.
BMX riders that perform switch tricks simply do their tricks the other way around. Not every trick can be performed switch. It’s only really spin tricks, tailwhips and bar spins that can be done the opposite way around.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you were wondering why someone would ride switch or perform switch tricks.
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