The Footbag

The Footbag :

What if I told you that in my hand I hold the secret to world harmony that diplomats have been searching for centers? That a toy about the size of a plumb can improve your physical and mental wellbeing tremendously. It may sound corny, but it may even bring you at peace with the world. You may call me crazy, but I believe that this little devise can do all these things.

This is the hackysac or footbag as it is officially known and it is the only component necessary in a very exciting game. But to me, it is much more than a game. To me, it is an expressive dance, a natural high, an important social skill that everyone should become familiar. I am now going familiarize you with this social skill by explaining some philosophy behind it and showing you some basic kicks.

The Olympics claim to promote peace and unity, but any hacker will tell you the true goodwill game is hackysack. It has kept warrior guards awake in ancient China, warmed up the legs of soccer players and helped treat sports injuries by stretching muscles and tendons. Through its latest incarnation, though, it's the ultimate neo-hippie sport…the athletic equivalent of tie-dyed clothing or listening to the Grateful Dead.

Hackysac's reputation as a game of peace, love and understanding may have begun during a 1987 American-Soviet peace walk protesting the arms race. As hack circles developed along the road from Leningrad to Moscow, people joked that summit meetings weren't the answer and the true secret to lasting peace among nations lay in the game of hackysack.

The dynamics of the game reinforce the hac's image of a game of goodwill. Basically, the hac is pass through the air with any part of the body except the hands and arms. A circle is formed as more people join in, and there is no limit to the number of players. In fact, the more the merrier since the fun increases with more players. This makes the sport inherently welcoming, all you need do is ask and you’re in. The circle itself is significant in that it makes everyone equal. There is no single important position, no quarterbacks, centers, goalies or bench warmers. Best of all, you can hack just about anywhere except in line at the bank.

A friend of mine once asked me, "Why do you play hackysac? You can't score and you can't win." To which I responded, "Exactly." The fact that emphasis is not place on scoring or wining is the beauty of the sport. No one is working against anybody, no enemy to defeat, no conflict. Instead, emphasis is placed on cooperation, teamwork and sharing. Members of the hac circle becomes one force determined to keep the hac in the air. Still, the game still attracts plenty of showoffs displaying showy kicks : jesters, fliers, clippers and stalls among other so-called circus tricks or as fellow hacker Timur Willson put it, hacksturbation…

The game may feel awkward to the uninitiated, like shooting hoops with a golf ball, but it quickly becomes second nature once you know a few basic kicks. I will show you a few of them. The Inside Kick is one of the two most important kicks in footbag. Fortunately, it's also the easiest. Use this kick when the bag falls directly between the shoulders. The secret is to the foot directly under the hacky and turning the ankle to have a flat surface to strike it with. Use a smooth lifting motion as opposed to a swift jabbing motion and it will hopefully propel straight back up.

The outside kick is the another essential kicking skill. This kick is executed when the hacky falls outside either shoulder. The outside of the foot is used by turning the ankle and knee outward to create a flat striking surface. Again, use a smooth lifting motion.

This back kick is used when the hacky is going over your head or is directly approaching your upper body. The hips and upper body must rotate to the direction of the hacky's flight so that eye contact can be maintained with the hacky. The contact point should be between the hips and knee.

The knee kick is executed when the bag is too close to the body to execute an inside kick. The top portion of the thigh is used by bending the knee and lifting straight up as in a high marching step. This should set you up for a more reliable inside or outside kick.

The toe kick provides a quick reach or save when the other four basic kicks cannot be used. The top surface of the foot contacts the hacky by flicking your toes straight up and snapping the ankle. There are, of course, many more kicks then this but learning the basic kicks will prepare you for any hack circle.

The Aztec Indians played a similar game to hackysac but instead of a small bean bag, they used hollow reed balls or feathered rocks. It's no coincidence to me that shorty after such games were prohibited, their civilization fell. Since then, the power of the footbag has only increased. I truly believe that the hacky sac can, indeed, lead to a more healthy, peaceful and prosperous life. So there's no need to read the Tao Te Ching cover to cover to find peace, run the New York Marathon to stay fit, or sit upon a TIBEN mountain to find the meaning of life. The answer may be as near as local K-mart for as little as five buck.

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