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Where Should I Put My Surfboard Traction Pad?

Surfboard Deck Pad Placement

Traction pads are fairly self-explanatory. They sit near the tail of your surfboard and help you figure out where your foot placement is at all times while riding the wave. Most standard traction pads are made out of Thermoformed EVA, but differ in textures, shapes, colours, arch contours and kick profiles. SurfDek traction pads are made from a new brushed foam formula, meaning no diamonds or pyramids are necessarily needed. This creates an even better board feel whilst still maximising grip. Traction pads are used on almost all shortboards, and are chosen almost entirely based off of personal preference and what feels comfortable to the rider.

Straight From The Centre

You will want your traction pads to be aligned with the centre of your surfboard. This will mean that they do not inadvertently go off the side of the board and also that they give you the right grip according to the angle of the board. If your surfboard has a visible stringer down the middle (usually brown as they’re traditionally made of plywood), then you can use that as your central point to align (or create!) your traction pad with.

If your board is one of the more modern composite technologies and doesn’t have a stringer, not to worry – doing the next step should still be enough to prevent things going wrong. As many of the traction pad instructions will say, you will also want to place the pad on the deck of your surfboard and mark its placement with a pencil before peeling off the cover and gluing it on. Really this is a case of marking the four corners of the tail pad, as well as the centre of the rear part of the pad and the centre of the front part of the pad. Having all 4 corners mapped out and straight should mean that you are able to put your traction pad on perfectly without issue.

If you are using SurfDek Hex Pads to create a deck pad or tail pad. You can start from the centre of your board and work outwards to get perfect symmetry. See our installation guide for more information on using our traction pads. If you are order a SurdDek Pro or Custom deck pad, we will usually run the design with a line to match up with the stringer or centre line of your surfboard.

Rear Traction Pad Placement

The key points for placing your rear traction pad on your surfboard are the following:

  • Place it over where your fins are
  • Do not put it too close to the leash
  • Think about how far back to get best use out of the kick tail (if you are using one)

Traction Pad Over the Fins

This is the most important part of placing your traction pad, or ‘stomp pad’ as some people call them. You want to place a rear pad over the fins on your surfboard as this means that you will be able to turn your board properly. If you do it any further forward, you risk trying to turn off a point that is too far forward. If you are trying to pivot off a point that is in front of the fins, you will find turning to be very difficult and feel awkward. Not being able to turn your board properly will be frustrating and it’s really not easy to take a traction pad off, so if you place your grip pad too far forward it can ruin your surfing experience.

Distance With Leash Plug: Be Careful Of Leash Bite!

Continuing on from the points above, you will also want to consider how close you place the back end of your rear pad to the leash plug. This is because you need to allow room for the leash to work. We have seen it before where people have placed the pad so close to the leash plug that it actually means that the leash is almost pulling through the rear of the pad when tight at certain angles during riding or wiping out. This can not only bring the tail pad off the board, meaning you have to pull the rest of the traction pad off (slow and painful) and/or to buy a new pad (an annoying expense and process).

So, with this in mind, be sure to leave about half an inch (1.25cm) between the back of the rear traction pad and the leash plug. This should mean that your pad is far enough back to work well for turns and also not get in the way of your leash when taught in certain directions. If unsure, just place the pad on the board before gluing it and try pulling your leash at all angles.

SurfDek Hex Pads allow you to position your surfboard traction around your leash plug, due to their modular nature. SurfDek Pro and Custom pieces will be designed and manufactured to go in front of or around a leash plug.

Where Should I Put My Surfboard Traction Pad?

Front Traction Pad

Front traction pads were popular in the 80s and early 90s then dropped off the map, but have made something of a resurgence in recent years with the likes of Jamie O’Brien and many others using them on certain boards. So, if you plan on adding a front traction pad to your surfboard, here are some specific points to consider for getting the positioning just right.

Front Foot Placement

If you already have wax on your board and have used it, you should be able to see where your front foot normally goes and can use that space as the target area for your front traction pad (after you’ve cleaned it thoroughly!).

Full Surfboard Traction

SurfDek can create full surfboard deck pads to specification, meaning it will fit your board perfectly. We will usually create full traction pads in sections (4/6/8 pieces) in order to make them easy to get straight and achieve a perfect bond to the board. Read our installation guide on how to install yours.

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