Footbag

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Some of my more recent footbags.

Footbag, a game that I played a bit too much during school. Fun and beneficial, we even used the footbag for martial arts training.

The traditional game is played when two or more players stand in a circle and try to keep the footbag, or hacky sack, off the ground. The game starts when one player picks up the footbag and tosses it to the chest of another player, who allows it to fall to his feet so he can kick it, and play begins. Play continues until the footbag falls to the ground, then a player picks up the footbag and the game resumes. The object of the game is to keep the footbag off the ground for as long as possible. If every player gets a touch to the footbag before it hits the ground, it is called a ‘hack’. If every player gets two touches before the footbag hits the ground, it is called a ‘double-hack’ and so on and so forth.  Footbag can also be played by yourself in trying to achieve your highest consecutive hit in a row.

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Some of my Jianzi, Chinese Hack Sacks.

The idea of the game is similar to traditional Asian games of kicking the shuttlecock, known as Jianzi and Chapteh. The game is also similar to some South East Asian games, such as Sepak Takraw and Sipa. The same principle is applied in football-playing countries with footballs in a sport called freestyle football/freestyle soccer.

Practice the 3 basic kicks – inside (left and right), outside (left and right) and toe kick.

  • Inside kick: Gently drop the sack in front of you. Use the inside of the foot, almost directly in the center of your shoe where the arch of your foot is, to kick the bag directly straight up. Angle your ankle so that the inside of the foot is parallel to the ceiling. This will ensure that the bag will go directly up and not off to the side. It helps to bend the other standing leg as well. After one kick, catch the sack in your hand. Repeat dropping, kicking, and catching until you are consistently kicking the bag straight up. Next, try kicking the bag using alternating feet and no hands. See how many you can do in a row!
  • Outside kick: Gently drop the sack with your arm outstretched to the side, and use the middle of the outside of the foot to kick the bag. This is harder to do, but remember the tips above – angle your ankle to keep the outside of the foot parallel to the ceiling, and bend the standing leg.
  • Toe kick: Gently drop the sack in front of you, but at a greater distance than the inside kick. Use the toes to kick the bag straight up in the air. This kick is similar to the one commonly used to juggle a soccer ball.

Practice the 3 basic foot stalls – inside (left and right), outside (left and right) and toe.

  • Inside stall: Drop the sack in front of you. Using the inside of the foot, in the middle of the shoe, catch the sack with the foot by gently lowering the foot a couple of inches (a few centimeters) in a cradling motion. This will help absorb the impact of the bag on the foot and keep it from bouncing off the side. Imagine catching the bag as you would a raw egg or water balloon.
  • Outside stall: Drop the bag to the outside and cradle the bag by lowering the foot a couple of inches.
  • Toe stall: Drop the bag to the front and again, cradle the bag by lowering the foot a couple of inches.
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