Monday, 16 March 2015

Dominant foot vs. dominant leg

(Originally posted on Saturday, 1 April 2017)

I noticed that I push a skateboard with my left leg and my daughter pushes it with her right leg. We are both right-handed and right-footed (we kick a ball with the right foot), so why is the difference in our skateboard stances? Below there is a great video with some basic longboarding tips that clearly shows how to determine which foot is your “front foot”. Well, the guy in the video uses the term “dominant foot” for a “front foot”, which is not quite the same as “dominant foot” in other contexts (for example for kicking a ball). Like in the video I pushed my daughter from the back and she moved her left foot first – the same foot she keeps first on the skateboard. I asked her to push me from the back and I moved my right foot first – the same foot I keep first on the skateboard. Interesting, isn’t it?

Actually there is a different name for each skateboard stance – regular (like my daughter’s) and goofy (like mine). Some of the sites claim that most of the people ride in regular stance and that is why it is called regular, but this site:
clearly states that “Professionals seem to be evenly distributed between the stances”. When I look at the online pictures and videos for “longboarding” I can see that almost half of the people ride in goofy style. Personally I can’t imagine riding a board in regular stance.

If the skateboarders are more or less evenly distributed between the stances then the stances have nothing to do with the concept of “dominant foot” – most people are right handed and over 90% of right-handers are also right-footers, but only around 50% left-hander are left-footers (at least this is what Wikipedia says). So, the VAST majority of people should ride in regular stance and it is clearly not the case. So, what determines the “dominant foot as far as skateboarding is concerned”?

It seems to me that we simply push a skateboard with a LEG that is physically stronger (the “dominant LEG”) and the weaker LEG simply goes first. That is probably what our brain is used to do in our life – we may not notice which leg is stronger, but our brain surely does, so the brain makes us subconsciously prefer doing some things with our stronger leg. Like pushing a skateboard. It suits my case perfectly – my left leg is definitely stronger, even though I use my right foot to kick a ball. I used to play lots of basketball and because I am right-handed I wanted to finish my layups with my right hand, so I jumped a LOT using my left leg, making it stronger than my right leg. Walking and running require both legs, so my right leg had no chance to become dominant, even though my right foot is dominant.

If my theory is right (that we push a skateboard with our dominant – stronger LEG) then a team of right-handed basketball players should ride almost exclusively in goofy stance, like me. It would be interesting if somebody carried out such an experiment.

PS. Whenever I use the expression “my theory” my wife just rolls her eyes and prepares for the worst.

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