There are also a couple of things you can do to keep them from getting in your way. To begin with, whenever possible, make sure that the strap faces out, away from the ankle, instead of pointing towards the other foot. This will help prevent you from getting entangled in it and avoid the uncomfortable situation of getting on the board with the strap wrapped around your ankle. Be sure to tighten the strap just enough to keep it from spinning over your ankle as much as possible without interrupting circulation in the foot.
It may still move a little, but if it's tight enough, it should stay fairly still. There are times when you will see surfers without a leash, that is, longboarders on small waves who have total control of what they do, but if you are starting out, you will surely need one if you want to avoid being stranded in the sea without a board. The image on the left above shows the velcro strap and the image on the right shows the stitched board strap. If you're on a six-foot board, you'll want a strap that's about the same length.
If it's longer, you'll probably spend a lot of time getting it out of your way and trying to untangle it. The strap rope should be as short as possible to prevent it from hanging from the edge of the handrail and, at the same time, loose enough to allow the strap to pass through it. Competition straps are thinner than usual and are used by advanced surfers, who are less likely to fall and who want less resistance to increase speed. Insert the untied end of the loop into the strap cap, pull it, and then pull the knotted end through the loop and pull it until it fits.
This means that if you are a clumsy jerk (that is, someone who has your right foot on the front of the board), the strap will be attached to the left ankle, while if you are normal it will be attached to the right. Most surfers agree that the ankle is the most comfortable place to hold a strap, especially when paddling, and it also allows you to quickly “pull back” the board in the event of an accident. The right strap length for you will depend on the length of the board and your skill level. There are two typical connections you'll find on a strap: a stitched loop connection through which the cable goes, or a velcro strap that closes over the loop.
Straps are an integral part of surfing for just about everyone, and they're as important to keeping you and others safe in the water as your own board. Each board will have what's known as a strap stopper; usually, this is a small slit right in the back of the board with a bar that crosses it. The only real exception to this rule is the swallowtail board, which normally has the strap cap near the center of the swallowtail, so the strap rope normally hangs overhead.