The Game of Hackysac or Footbag
What if I told you that in my hand I hold the secret to world harmony that
diplomats have been searching for for centerys. That a toy about the size of a
plumb can improve your physical and mental well being 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
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 it’s lattest 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 good-will.
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 your 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,
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 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.