A traction pad offers extra grip over wax and also keeps your back foot from slipping off the end of your board. It stays grippy without any extra care or attention needed, making it a hassle-free way to surf.
The rear of a traction pad has a raised ‘kick’ to keep your foot in place, meaning you can push against it through turns.
Let me explain in more detail the parts of a traction pad and how it offers better grip.
PS If you’re in a hurry, I personally recommend either DaKine traction pads (Amazon) as a hardware brand or Ho Stevie! pads (Amazon) as a budget option from an independent brand, but remember: only buy a traction pad if you are using a fiberglass surfboard because you can’t stick a traction pad to soft foam surfboard.
Kick in a Traction Pad Lets You Push Harder
The raised kick at the rear of your traction pad means that it acts as a stopper for your rear foot. Personally, I love a rear traction pad since the kick allows me to push back hard and at an angle that I could never do with just wax.
Only rear traction pads have a kick to them since the front pad is flat as you have to lie down directly on a front pad. A rear pad is placed at the end of your surfboard, meaning that only your toes will touch it and it won’t get in the way.
Texture on Traction Pads Means Extra Grip All the Time
The textured surface of a traction pad means that they are always grippy and do not need any care like regular surf wax. This textured pattern mainly comes in diamond shapes but can also be round mounds or just about any other shape.
These textured pieces are spaced out by about an inch each time meaning that the grip is spread evenly across your traction pad also mean that they are always grippy.
Arch in a Traction Pad Matches the Shape of Your Foot
Most surfboard traction pads also come with an arch through the center to help keep your foot centered. I like this aspect of traction pad design because your foot naturally arches and it offers more grip as the pad meets your foot in the middle, with all its contours and grip.
This great when rocking back and forth and shifting your balance on the board as the arch makes the transition from side to side smoother.
PS My guide to balance boards for surfing also explains how these boards can help you to improve your balance when you can’t get in the surf, so have a read of that, too!
Traction Pads Keep Your Foot in the Perfect Position
Because you place your traction pad in the perfect spot on your board, you know exactly where your rear foot is and whether it is in the sweet spot. For example, I know that placing my foot further forward on my rear traction pad is great for speed, while pushing back against the kick is best for turns.
This kind of instinctive feel you get when using a traction pad allows you to hone the positioning of your rear foot on your board, which is crucial as you start to turn your surfboard since your foot placement needs to be in the sweet spot for the exact thing you want to do.
Traction Pads Offer a Softer Ride for Your Feet
Adding a traction pad to your board is also much less harsh under foot than surf wax given that traction pads are foam and have some give in them. Surf wax, the alternative, is hard and lumpy, making it grippy but not as nice to surf with as a traction pad.
Traction Pads Are Helpful for Intermediate Riders on Fiberglass Boards Learning to Turn
Traction pads help you to push harder on your back foot, which is really helpful when turning sharply as you need to apply pressure to turn the board fast and hard.
When learning cutbacks or other ‘arching’ turns, the kick in a traction pad offers extra support for your foot making it highly recommended as you progress to the next level of surfing.
I know I’ve found them extremely helpful for my surfing and would strongly recommend adding one to your fiberglass or epoxy surfboard when you are ready.
Bonus Tip: Keeping Your Traction Pad Extra Grippy
To keep your traction pad extra grippy, you might want to apply a little surf wax to it from time to time but otherwise, you don’t need to do anything to your traction pad throughout its lifespan.
Check out more of my articles on surfboard traction pads now!