Which Foot Should Be Forward in Slalom Waterskiing or Wakeboarding?

Five Simple Tests to See If You Are Regular- or Goofy-Footed

Young man surfing on a wakeboard
Andreas Strauss / LOOK-foto/Getty Images

In wakeboarding and slalom waterskiing, just as in snowboarding, there are two ways to arrange your feet on the board or slalom ski. Just as most people have a dominant hand, they also tend to have a dominant foot. Most waterskiers and wakeboarders find it most comfortable to have the dominant foot in the rear binding since this is the foot that is most important for balance and the one that initiates turns. The non-dominant foot, then, goes forward. 

It's most common for the right foot to be in the rear binding, the left foot forward, a stance that is called the regular position. But just as some people are naturally left-handed, some wakeboarders and slalom water skiers find that having the left foot back and the right foot forward feels most natural. In the sport, this stance is known as being goofy-footed. 

Not sure whether you should be putting your right or left foot forward in your wakeboard or slalom water ski bindings? Don't panic, it's a legitimate question for beginners, and there are five simple tests to find out which foot goes where.

The Falling Test

Stand with your feet together and close your eyes. Ask someone to gently push you forward from behind. Whichever foot automatically reaches forward first as you catch your balance is the foot you should probably put in the forward wakeboard binding or slalom water ski binding. The natural impulse when you have your eyes closed is to maintain balance on your dominant foot and reach with the other foot to catch yourself. 

This test will be most effective if the person being tested stands with their eyes closed as the other person takes them by surprise when pushing forward. Otherwise, it's possible some conscious thought will go into the reaction. 

The Pants Test

In most cases, whichever foot a person inserts first into a pair of pants first is the foot that should go in the front binding on the wakeboard or slalom ski. Here, too, most people tend to balance on their dominant foot while putting on pants. The balance foot should be in the rear binding, the other foot in the front binding. 

The Demo Test

Learning which is your natural forward foot is usually easy if you simply demo a slalom ski or wakeboard, trying both left and right feet in the rear binding. One way will feel most natural, especially on turns. Most people turn more comfortably with the dominant foot in the rear binding, and the non-dominant foot forward. 

The Stairs Test

Stand motionless at the bottom of a flight of stairs, and direct someone to call out "go" unexpectedly. The first foot you lift to meet the bottom step is your dominant foot; that's the one that should go in the rear binding on the waterski or wakeboard.

The Ski Lift Test

Chris Harmon with California Water Sports in Carlsbad, California, suggests starting on combo skis to see which foot is easier to balance on. "As a professional ski instructor, I use the following method. Have the novice start on doubles (combo skis). Tell the skier to lift one ski out of the water about 6 to 12 inches for 2 to 6 seconds with their ankle flexed up so the tip of the ski doesn't catch the water.

Next, instruct the skier to alternate between their left and right ski for two to six minutes. Make sure the skier keeps the handle at hip level and that the handle remains quiet (meaning not to pull using the arms) and keep their chin up. After this process, the skier will definitely know which foot is easier to balance on. That foot should be the front foot on the single ski," says Harmon.