Getting your feet right

Apologies if I missed an existing thread. Here in Maine the transition to full suits, mitts, and booties is upon us. Last winter that meant I had a very hard time getting on my feet at all, so after the last three days of usually getting to my feet I’m counting that as a win. But even before I was wrapped up I was frustrated with inconsistent placement of my feet, and by that I mostly mean front foot. Bad feelings include: too far outboard, so I’m standing on my back toe just to stay up and can’t pump; too far back, so I can’t keep it down; too far fwd, so pumping is too mushy.

From when I stand to when I need to be either jumping the ww or if I’m lucky pulling out normally before grounding is about the same amount of time it takes to pump a few times to gain the speed necessary to do so. Therefore, I don’t have ages to shuffle my feet.

So I’m trying to figure out how to place my foot more consistently. When I do get lucky it all feels great. For the last few days I’ve had an Armstrong hexagonal foot strap washer screwed to the deck in the hopes that I’d be able to feel it as I place it, but what with the booties I have yet to actually notice it. Today I experimented with actually looking briefly at where I was stepping, and didn’t crash, so that might be an option.

Any other ideas?

3m traction strips for reference points (if you make it thick enough you will feel it) - you can get 3m traction from NSI.

Wear thinner booties. I think the Solite booties fit better and have more of a tactile feel on the board.

The unfortunate reality is that thick rubber just sucks.

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Full neoprene season here, last winter it was a huge pain to transition to boots. Genuinely think the 3mm solite with straps are a good bet, gave my friend a pair after got a warranty replacement and he agrees.

Also - I think you want a less aggressive board grip with boots, brushed smooth grip better than super knobbly

Granted your question is more about how to stand etc, but I find the ability to shift my feet around essential, and boots make that pretty tricky to do it accurately

I was thinking about traction guides of some kind, the washer is meant to help me find where I’d put it. If it was boating season (new board since then, 35L takuma morning sun), that would be easy but so far I haven’t managed to look down while things were going well. Where do folks put bumps relative to a properly placed foot? I’d been thinking along the outside of my foot, so it acts as a stop when I bring it up, but since I need to pump immediately that means a bit aft, so there’d be times I’d want to stand on it.

And my board does have aggressive traction, so there might be something to that, although I can move it when I have time.

Edit, this btw is the washer I’m using now, and I’m in 5mm solites, having retired my 3mm till spring.

Anyone ever tried magnets in boots and corresponding magnets on board? I know there are mountain bike pedals like that where the magnets arent strong enough to act like clips or straps but give just a little bit of retention and placement.

Like a Magsafe iPhone charger that automatically pulls your foot where it’s supposed to be? :slight_smile:

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Yeah! I’ll try it this winter when I get to bootie season! My board is solid closed cell foam so I can just cut space in the traction and screw down one of the countersunk magnets

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I was thinking this same thing! I don’t think it’s necessarily a dumb idea…… would help with aerials too but allow safe release at all angles.

I was big on traction guides and placements etc but on the latest board I’ve removed it all and I can say that I much prefer it. You need to move your feet in response to each wave, each turn etc, move a lot, and not moving your feet or just sending them straight to the same place is not the answer IMO. I think it is possibly net negative.

Magnets… why not! :smile:

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In lieu of magnets or barriers, to get to the original question, how do people develop the knack for getting it right? Do you look down for a while until it’s muscle memory? I use the one-at-a-time/tripod method, which I’d assume is easier.

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I don’t look down, but I feel like I have developed a muscle memory for placing my feet relative to where I grip the board pretty consistently. Goofy so my right foot goes to a consistent place near my right hand, maybe 6 inches behind it.

I will also add that I used to do a surf “pop” up, but now I do a pushup, back foot first (see this video for the variations). Because foiling foot placement is so critical, I think this push up process allows better accuracy and more time to place feet. I think you should focus on not releasing your hands from the board until you’re moderately certain your front foot is in the right place.

I definitely do this more slowly in boots, and am more deliberate because adjustment is harder

The back foot less of an issue, I never find it an issue to kick the leash away if tangled etc so less worried about back foot.

Here is a good example - granted you maybe don’t have that much sea room to take so long

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Yes, that is a very good point. Sometimes I delay the front foot(chicken wing style, forgot that term) if the wave is wonky because I want to get it right. I should change that to always ASAP, then adjust while I can hold the board down, when standing it’s so much harder…….One of those obvious in retrospect things, thanks!


Cool, yeah I think the relatively slow process is key. Watching that video again maybe the distinction between chickenwing and pushup maybe not that important, but I think first placement of back foot, and then very accurate placement and adjustment of front foot is probably the thing that is most distinct from my non-foiling popup (which I haven’t done in ~2 years now…)

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I just got out the water, I may have overemphasised how deliberately I pop up. I was on a borrowed bigger board and mostly doing the takeoff as described, but definitely moving my feet around on the drop and first turn as a more critical part of the process. This was in bigger messier surf, so maybe smaller you can take the time to adjust

Thanks, my new plan is to inlay white octopus corduroy into the black knobby front tread in a large cross shape. Even when I can’t feel it I might be able to see at a glance where my foot is.

I’ve got octopus corduroy with a foot bar for the front foot. It’s low and not too noticeable by feel with booties, but there is an octopus logo that I put right where my front foot should go. It’s easy to see and aim for. I’m in the early stages and working on my foot placement on popup has pretty much been my only focus for a while now. I’ve tried both chicken wing and pop up types and have settled on a quick pop up while looking at my front foot target. It seems better than slowly guiding it in in chicken wing style for me. I still struggle and constantly land about 3" too far back. It seems that the best thing is not to worry too much about my feet but rather to put my hands way far forward before popping up and that seems to get me there.

I drew lines on my deck for foot placement. The visual reference helped a lot. I drew the centerline for lateral placement, as well as diagonal going through the foot strap inserts to show a front foot limit. Simple but efficient. You just look at your feet before takeoff and every once in a while during flight. After a few sessions you should be dialed in


One thing that I always do is cut back the rear portion of the front traction to prevent my foot from grabbing early and stopping short. Foot to far back is always a disaster. Expecuakly in the winter I’ll be out for a session and be popping up short and go in grab a blade and cut it back an inch and it’ll fix everything.

The alternative is self coaching “PICK UP YOUR FRONT FOOT YOU LAZY TURD!”

True, but one of the reasons I was drawn to the morning sun was the deep deck recess. But the unintended consequence is that I mess up both ways now, hence being confused about how to fix it.

I went with a couple of inlayed marks for quickly seeing where it is.

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