Monday, November 30, 2009

Footbag freestyle in confined places

Shredding in oddly small spaces seems to become the norm in the winter months in the midwest. My living room is 6' x 8' and has precariously placed obstacles, like the 65"tv, the cushions protruding from the couch, and the cat walking through whenever he feels like it.

My double-secret space is 7' wide x infinite length, a hallway always under the possibility of eviction given the particular Paul Blart I encounter. Mostly they tolerate me though, and I'm thankful for that. I keep it pretty low key, high energy.

Sometimes half the battle of playing every day is procuring a place to play at. Beggars can't be choosers.

I think string length can be affected, so I have to consciously make an effort to work on long strings in small spaces. Being aware of the limitations of the playing area, I can focus on more specific components and new trick development (developing tricks that are new for me). I really miss the open space of "Mammoth Springs" parking lot, and I know that when I get to play in an open space again, that I am going to really take advantage of it and move around alot. Fliers and long strings, oh to dream.

Shred notes: 11/29/09
Played in LR today. Have been filming spec commercial projects for online video contests, finding a way to inject Footbag into each entry. Learned many things about camera angles, image resolution and export profiles. I plan to start working on atomic again on the side that used to hurt. I'll let you know how that goes. Had a hard time getting through my warm-up strings today, but eventually got into my groove.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

'85 World Championships - Old stories

Thinking back to my first World Footbag Championships (of 20 in a row). I have to take us back to the summer of '85, when I met Jay Moldenhauer and Greg Nelson for the first time. We were all attending a tournament in Athens, MI that included appearances by Andy Linder and Pat Bieber! Back then I was still using leather 2-panel hacky-sacks, and mine got wet on Saturday. We have come a long way! That finals day , I won a 'soc sac' signed by boy wonder Pat Bieber.

Jay Moldenhauer wanted to go to World Championships, and had to go thru Chicago to get there. I am so glad he approached me to ask if I could drive with him. He'll pick me up and go from there. I really wanted to go, but I was pretty sure my parents would shoot the idea down. When I got home from that tourney, I eagerly asked their permission (and funding)... And by allowing me to go, and encouraging me to pursue the sport I was so passionate about, I had officially started down the path that now lies behind me. I have no regrets about the path I took, and I can't wait to experience what lies ahead!

Shred Notes: 11/28/09
Gyro barfly is still challenging. Hit both, but not on tape and not for lack of trying. What does rippin call that pendulum style bag transfer.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks to Footbag!

Thanks to Footbag! For all my friends! To John Stalberger and Mike Marshall for inventing it! For all that well-spent time in my mis-spent youth! For all the excuses for traveling! For all the great events! For all the TV appearances! For my supportive family! For teaching me to deal with stress! For giving me something to teach! For my great and supportive job that allows me the time to host events and to train for them. Thanks for my parents who encouraged me to find my own path! Thanks again to Valeria and Alex for putting up with me along the path. And once again, thanks to Footbag!

Sidenote: coming up on 3 years where I have shredded hard, every day! Less than a month!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Footbag may not be the cure, but it is at least good preventative medicine!

Cases of childhood obesity and adult onset diabetes (Type 2 Diabetes) are symptoms of an epidemic that causes a myriad of health and emotional problems in our youth and young adult populations. People are trending towards poor food choices and sedentary 'activities' in place of balanced home cooked meals and being physically active. The US Surgeon General says on their website: "To ensure a healthy future for America's children, we must—
Help Kids Stay Active, Encourage Healthy Eating Habits, Promote Healthy Choices." REF:

As there is no magic pill to solving these problems, then certainly footbag would be a great option of the 'Help Kids Stay Active' part of the Surgeon General's initiative. Playing Footbag requires moving your legs, which are the largest muscle mass in the body. Burning calories requires jumpstarting the metabolism, and a simple, low-cost item like a Footbag is all you need to get started.

Learning the basics is the initial challenge, which quickly becomes addictive. Give a kid a set of barbells and they cringe thinking about all the 'work'-outs in their future. Give a kid a Footbag and they will play with their friends, and practice alone to get better! With a Footbag, they are getting their exercise, and they don't even realize it.

As proof of this concept, look at the top Footbag athletes. They are fit and in shape. In my case, I've been playing for over 25 years, and for the past 1070 days in a row (since I turned 40). I am not at risk for being overweight, and no sign of diabetes. Of course, I've been a vegetarian making good food choices for over 15 years which helps too (thanks to Valeria for all the great meals). is committed to presenting Footbags to young audiences, to encourage it as a fun activity that provides exercise without realizing it is exercise. It is great to play with everyone in the family, truly quality time.

Meanwhile, tell everyone you know about footbag. But you already know that!


Shred Notes 11/24/09;
I think that because I rely so heavily on cross body tricks, that I always feel a form of guilt when I spend time on them, which takes away from my time
Skooling new tricks and working on my flipside. Today, I skooled blurry whirls and many other whirls. It was overdue. No guilt, literally And just when I got totally warm, I ran out of time.

- enlightener

Friday, November 20, 2009

Injury with honor?

What is an honorable injury? Is there such a thing?
Well, if I got an injury that kept me from kicking, but was a result of anything other than intense shredding, that is an injury without honor. The way I figure it, if I were to flail miserably during a shred, and it resulted in injury, then at least it would be an injury of honor, that I would learn to live with.

So why do I mention this? I had a close call on my xootr today.
I malfunctioned when dismounting the xootr and tweaked my ankle. I have always been careful to not overdo things, this was a lack of light situation. Clearly my own Dumb-ass fault. I find it hard not to focus on the unusual pain during the first few hours of work.

So the first few minutes of my jam was cautiously approached today. After a warmup that showed that planting and rotating was the painful thing, I designed a session around that. Skooled tricks that don't rotate on rt leg as much as possible. I used rt x soles to stretch it. Still hit some nice strings and tons of frontside stuff. Play around the injury!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So much music, so little time

Why do I always use different music at different events? And music without words? Josh Casey is the biggest single influence for me. He argued that, especially in international competition, that words in music are a distraction.

For anyone who has seen me perform/compete over my 26-year career, you may have noticed that every event gets a unique music choice.

There are several reasons for this, but mostly because there is so much music, and so little time.

I consider this a personal challenge... To create a unique performance for each event I compete at. I know that I need to pick a song and make a routine that I can pull out at any opportunity. The reason I don't is that when I am training a routine, I not only practice to the song, but I listen to it over and over... Hundreds of times. I just haven't found that perfect song yet.

Any suggestions?

- enlightener

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'Play your strengths' doesn't mean ignore your weaknesses...

I advocate what Kenny told me, 'play your strengths' but that doesn't mean I would say to ignore your weaknesses. It is important to keep focused on performance-quality strings, but always be aware of what you need to work on and to train those elements 'out' of your game.

Today I spent almost 20 minutes drilling L Blender. I am not only working to make my weak points stronger, but to modify a habit of mine. You see, I have been doing blender to dyno for so long, that every time I try for L blender, out comes a dyno. So I am actively spending time learning to buck the habit. To be able to pull off L blender opens many doors for my future game.

I have also suffered from one-sidedness in the world of fairies and pixies. I have daily spent a few minutes on this and it is paying off. Along with my flipside barrage, these training detours will have huge payoffs in the form of a better rounded game!

Keep playing!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What happened to refractions?

What ever happened to refractions? Back in the day it was a trick that I never quite 'got.'. Today I revisited refractions and I can see how they can help to mix it up a bit. Very fun! More experiments and practice are needed on my part. Hit spinning butterfly refraction and spinning osis refraction. Need to really skool basic refractions. Focus on the components!

My whole jam today started on Vortex's, went to Gyro DaDa's and into refractions. A blast. Always difficult to put on the brakes and wrap it up, but I managed.

- enlightener

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A quote from Kenny Shults...

Kenny Shults was a huge influence on my game as well. I copied his tricks, much as I did Andys'. Of course, the sport would not be where it is now without Kenny. Inspiring.

So back in the late '80's, I had an opportunity to ask Kenny his advice, and in a single quote, he changed the way I approach the design of a Footbag routine (performance). When I asked what would make my routines better, Kenny said "focus on your strengths."

I designed my winning routine (World Footbag Championships 1999) on that theory, and it worked. Not to mention all the 2nd place finishes I had. There are so many reasons why Kenny has influenced the sport, on that day in just a few words, he changed the way I play!

Shred notes: 11/12/09
Hit a new trick today, well new for me. Nuclear same xbody rake. L clip set on rt side of body, nuclear with L leg and then xbody rake with same leg. Also almost hit Shooting version of same.

- enlightener

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanks to Andy Linder!

I wonder if I was somehow fated to play Footbag. I sure was lucky to have circumstances work out how they did!

I had been casually playing Footbag with my friends in Oak Park. One day we went in front of Matt Fickenschers house to play, and less than a block north of us was a guy who was kicking right there. And kicking... And kicking, and he never dropped. We watched from afar and dreamed of having skills like that.

A few days after that we were playing in that same spot and a guy came up and joined us in the circle. I can't remember his name, but he taught me my first trick, the lap catch. He also confirmed that his friend is the one and only Andy Linder, the current world freestyle champion and world record holder for most kicks in a row.

Shortly after that, still in 1984, I was shown a news blurb announcing an Footbag tourney of College Unions at IIT. I'm so grateful that I went there, as it set the course for my Footbag career. I met Andy Linder, Brent Welch, Lom Quang, Bruce Guettich and Greg Cortopassi there. I also met Jay Claffey and PJ Lareau who taught me my first toe delay.

About 16 years later, I won the World Championships Freestyle title. And ten more years later I am still playing at a high level. And at this writing I have played over 1050 days in a row.

Thanks to Andy Linder for inspiration, to all my friends who encourage me, and to my family who not only tolerate me, but are my biggest fans! THANKS!

Shred Notes from this past Sunday and Monday, 10/8 and 10/9/09: got to play with Valeria at rehm tennis facility outdoors. Nothing groundbreaking, just good solid jams with long strings. Valeria showed progress on clipper rainbows.

I love this sport!

- enlightener

Monday, November 9, 2009

Andy created a monster!

A bit more about Andy Linder.

He was the first major influence on my game. He didn't come to me offering suggestions for improvement. His methodology for skooling is what I gleaned from having the priveledge of traveling to Footbag events, and in being his team freestyle partner in my first 2nd place finish at world championships, there were many more 2nd place finishes (More than anyone else).

I was at first gunning for him in a futile but aggressive way. His memory of me back then was that of a 'cocky kid', and he was mostly right. Over the years I have developed more of a hunger for win-win situations rather than win-lose scenarios.

I copied his tricks and learned from what I saw at first, not unlike the way new players learn today, but with less videos and a total absense of YouTube.

What I learned from Andy was to have clear goals and to hold myself to a high standard. I think his biggest training secret is that he would take a trick or a string, and set a goal like '5 times in a row'. Then he would skool it until he achieved his goal.

Andy leads by example. He is a great leader and a great example.

Thanks again Andy!

Shred notes: 11/10/09..
Hit flipside phobic mirage. Happy that my flipside fairy and flip pixies are getting stronger. A little bit every day. Also gyro whirl to vortex. Why is möbius to möbius so hard? Working on frozen möbius to adjust.

- enlightener

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Equipment Matters!

Having the right equipment is necessary in any sport and Footbag is no different. But being flexible enough to still play at a high level even when you don't have the right equipment, is both a mental hurdle and a physical one.

This past summer my wife dragged me to a coldplay concert. We always shred at Alpine Valley, but somehow when I packed my backpack, I left out my shoes. I didn't realize this until we were halfway to Wisconsin. So the shoes I had on weren't Lavers but had open toes, so I spent the next hour modifying them. I was still able to get a good shred on, except that the warmup band sucked and I found no motivation from it. The shoes were heavy and had sloping insteps so I had to focus on frontside moves. But I made-do and had a worthwhile shred that day regardless.

So more to the point, today i forgot kicking shorts. Choice of jeans or Bermudas. Chose Bermudas and very happy with results below. Felt rediculous, but after a few minutes, didn't notice the bagginess and length if the shorts.

Shred notes 11/07/09:
Swirling Saturday. Warm up included plenty if swirls.

Symposium reverse swirling rake both sides. On film. Coming soon I hope.

- enlightener

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Move your game forward, 'cause time is moving it the other way...

Move your game forward, because time is moving it the other way...

"Use it or lose it" is another way to look at it. Over years of playing I have noticed that even short
one week breaks from playing caused me to have to catch up and spend time getting back to where I was.
I had made this observation over and over, but when I turned 40 I started thinking that this scenario could
only get worse with age. This is when I decided to start playing every day. Then a year, and two years,
1000 days in a row. The next milestone is 3 years playing everyday in a row.

I feel if I am going to continue to improve my game, that I need to stay on top of my game on all aspects.
I try to work on a variety of tricks every day, with a focus on a specific trick. I need to spend
more time on building endurance, executing long strings and linkage. The wonderful thing
about obsessing over this sport, is there is an endless array of tricks to learn, and many more
still yet to invent.

By playing everyday, I feel that it reverses the tendency to lose ground, it keeps me in top
condition, and it keeps my mind focused on the passion I have for this sport!

Shred Notes: 11/06/09
Skooled Barflies, down double downs and motion. Heavy on frontside strings. Had to play indoors
even though it was sunny and 50, it was too windy. Hit Ducking Paradox Whirl to Blurry Whirl on both
sides in one string. Had fun doing it. Always hard to stop.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recess is a good way to look at it...

Day 1052 in a row today. I find a way to play every day.

As my BAP name 'enlightener' might suggest, I am a tireless promoter of the sport of footbag, former Education Director of IFPA, even my profession involves education. I think a good way to look at my lunchtime shreds, is as a "recess" from my very structured day. I also think it helps to keep it fresh by having a goal... something to achieve, something to work towards, something that will get me focused on a 'prize' of some kind. I often stray from my original intentions, but I always finish up feeling good about my game.

Today my goal was to have 'Twirling Thursday.' Once I got warmed up, I did some twirl iterations (nothing new), but started into other tricks and never got back to Twirls. Most notably a lot of 'shooting' tricks. Shooting paradox torque. I think shooting mobius is possible. Hit both stepping barflies in one string. Almost hit shooting symposium barfly. All kinds of good.

Recess is good!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shred notes: 11/04/09

Equal use of both sides is important for so many reasons. It is usually a mental block that keeps me from trying some trix on both sides. By skooling all the basic trix on both sides a player is setting themselves up for a big future, where their game is only limited by their own minds.

Skooled frontside today heavily during warm-up, skooled some overlooked components like barrages. Learned alot about how to do better barrages by watching my strong side and analyzing for flipside.

Hit flipside Lucky butterfly. Now comfy with lucky in both directions

- Enlightener

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shred notes: 11/03/09

I'm not sure if B96 plays anything I like, but the store I shred near was blasting it., and I wasn't impressed.

Cold today. 46 and sunny. Flat wind. Probably should have played outdors, but didn't.

Phobic left toe set, no plant spin towards rt., lt leg whirl, rt clip catch. Skilled frontside strings.

Shred Notes: 11/02/09

Close to reverse swirling, symposium whirling, x-body rake.

Hit both spinning symposium paradox whirling rakes in same string several times.

Outdoors 58 degrees and sunny. Still chilly but if it is over 50 and sunny, I'm outdoors playing.

- enlightener

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shred notes: 10/31/09

These are those times when
Outside forces would seem to make it easy to skip a day if shred. Its alexs birthday, Valeria has spent countless hours prepping his party. But I still got my time to play. I am so lucky my family understands my commitment.

Skooled fairy infinity swirl, and pixie infinity swirl. Hit them both. Each are interesting in that they each have three unique dex's in them. Not just competitive uniques, but stylistically too. The first is on the way up, the 2nd is incidental and the third is horizontal. Neat.

- enlightener