Whenever you have the good fortune to get a new board, you’ll get the pleasure of treating yourself to a brand new traction pad, too. (And maybe a leash.) Traction pads, stomp pads, deck pads, grip, whatever you want to call them, are an essential piece of equipment for your board. Unless you’re a weirdo who likes only using wax, or a Gerry Lopez type who only gets barreled and nothing else, you’ll want something on the back of your board to keep your foot in place.
The main benefit of traction pads is that they keep your foot on the back of the board when you push through turns. Another less obvious benefit of the traction pad is that it helps with your foot placement. It’s easier to feel where your back foot is in relation to the board when you can tell your foot is off the traction pad, on the traction pad, or slammed against the raised kick of the pad. Developing an awareness of your foot placement will help you progress your surfing by letting you adjust your foot placement according to what you’re trying to do on the wave.