Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last shred session of the decade

Hurry up and get your shred on today, last chance of the decade!

Today is 1107 days in a row shredding with my favorite Footbags ( I am only gonna be able to play for an hour today, so my plan is to warmup fast with shred sprints, then work on big add trix. Skool barrages and other versions of same.

Thinking back to the turn of the century, I was the Current world champion in Footbag freestyle routines. My son was 2 years old, I was working with our family business. In that time, I took another two 2nd place finishes at worlds, and managed to stay on top of my game. I now work for a major company, my son is now 11 and just got his first pair of Lavers ( and on that same day he increased his own personal best consecutive score to 102 kicks in a row. I have been married for 18 years and my wife is still a freestyler too. For both of us, Footbag freestyle is our primary exercise, Valeria does other exercise, and I am planning to work on my upper body every other day in addition to freestyle every day. We want to bring Kick For Health to play a larger role in helping to reduce childhood obesity and adult onset diabetes by doing more school workshops and more actively promoting the concept.

Thanks to everyone who made this last decade so great for us, even when the economy didn't do so well. We are fortunate to be where we are starting into this next ten year span.

I can't wait for this next decade! Bring it on!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I can't get enough of this sport!

Is there such a thing as 'too much' freestyle? If you ask me, no. You might get a different answer from those around me, depending on when you ask the question. I think everyone would agree that my seemingly obsessive behavior surrounding Footbag ultimately has provided nothing but positive results in all areas of my life, with the possible exception of the financial area.

After a busy holiday week and a major Footbag tournament, my legs are surprisingly NOT sore. It may be partially because I gave been skooling hard every day for the past 1105 days in a row, but I think it is because I didn't get 'enough' play time at New Years Jam. As event director, getting to the site early each day and setting up, staying late to clean up is a small price to pay to bring an event like this to life. This event provides a place where other obsessed individuals such as myself can unite in our unique commonality to play together, learn from each other, reach out and teach kids, and even compete with each other. I personally believe every club should host a footbag event at least once a year! Get on it !

I'm going to do a double jam session today, lunch AND evening. Gotta return the sound system too.

Shred notes: 12/29/09 and 12/30/09
Day after a big event is usually hard to play. Not this time. Noticed a recent deficiency in barrages, skooled them. Hit Gyro Barrage. Is that called 'Garage'?

- enlightener

25th Annual Midwest Regional Footbag Championships - Wrap up and Results

Dec. 27-28, 2009.
25th Annual Midwest Regional Footbag Championships - Wrap up and Results.

About 50 players united for two days of shredding. Milan Benda from Czech Republic, Ken Somolinos from D.C., Brian, Emily and Goldberg from central CA, among others from Toledo, St. Louis, Wisconsin and nearby states!

Thanks to our sponsors!
World (WFA)
Kolo Sport
Chicago's Mayors Office of Special Events

Results (draft)
Footbag Freestyle Routines
-1st Place - Milan Benda
-2nd Place - Scott Davidson
-3rd Place - Ken Somolinos

Circle Contest
-1st Place - Ken Somolinos
-2nd Place - Milan Benda
-3rd Place - (name temp. missing)

More results:
Trick request contest- Milan Benda
Novice Consecutives: Alex Davidson (102, personal record)

Once I get these results completed here, I'll cross post them to and

- enlightener

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chicago Sports Festival starts tomorrow!

Tomorrow the Chicago Sports Festival begins at McCormick Place. Dec. 27-28, '09.
10-4 free admission, discounted parking on Martin Luther King Drive lot.

Come by and play with us!

So many great players are coming out, this is the premier footbag freestyle event in the country. We will also be introducing the sport to passersby all day.

Please come join us!

More info:

Best regards,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dehydration is highly avoidable!

Dehydration is a serious matter, that is entirely avoidable, especially with a bit of behavior modification. Logically, I think I am most susceptible in the summertime. But I think it is this time of the year (winter) that I am most at risk. In the summer, everyone is focused on dehydration issues, athletes at least. However in the winter, it can slip up on you without noticing it coming on. I personally drink lots of coffee in the morning, then lots of water in the afternoon, and whatever I want at night. If that includes alcohol then I will probably come out in a net negative. Coffee and alcohol are both diuretics and cause you to expel more water than you benefit from, ending in a net negative. When you drink water, without sweeteners or colors or carbonation, you can make up for that but you have to stay on top of it. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.

I remember about 10 years ago, Sam Conlon (perhaps the greatest female footbag freestyler ever), I'm pretty sure she had to stay in the hospital because of extreme dehydration. It took her a long time to recover fully, even after her visit to the hospital.

Water toxicity can happen if you drink something like 2 gallons in 1 hour so don't over do it, but other than that there is no such thing as too much water. When I drink water, I drink large volumes of room temp h2o.

Oh, if you are dieting and feeling hungry, try drinking a large glass of water at room temperature and see how hungry you are about 3 minutes later.

Here is a site that explains it in plain language... or

Shred Notes: 12/22/09
Worked on unusual surface strings, worried about pain that feels like a bruise in the top of left foot. Ended up getting very warm, skooled a lot of tricks that end landing on right leg. Almost hit inspinning symposium whirl.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Three years of playing every day!

So todays playtime concludes 3 years of footbag shredding on a daily basis. I have many insights from this experience which I won't go into right now, as I have little time at this writing. I wanted to thank my wife Valeria for allowing me the time to do this, and for doing the laundry. By my estimates, over 400 extra loads of laundry were caused by my daily obsession, and this is no small task. The only environmental impact that shredding has is all the extra laundry, but that is another topic.

3 years, yay! Now on to 4!

Shred notes: 12/19/09
Worked on routine for NYJ.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Measuring 'impact' of footbag freestyle relative to other sports...

The sport of Footbag Freestyle is underfunded and under-studied. I would love to see this change, but because of the current state of the economy and the loosely organized young players, it is unlikely we will see any new injections of funding or research anytime soon.

Other sports have been researched, and we can tell a lot about our sport by comparing it to these other sports. Among the comparable sports would be aerobics, boxing and running... to name a few.

So in future articles, I will compare some of this research and how it can be applied to the sport of footbag.

Shred notes: 12/12/09
Hit Sailing Butterfly today. That is a pixie atomic set back to the same side butterfly. SWEET!

Shred notes: 12/14/09
Hit Sailing butterfly on video today. Couple of good runs through my music for NYJ

Shred notes: 12/15/09
More good runs through NYJ music for performance.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Years Jam is just weeks away!

The 25th Annual Midwest Regional Footbag Championships and New Years Jam is just weeks away!
Be there! We are gonna shred big time!

We also will be reaching out to the youth of Chicago, over 50,000 people, to give them an opportunity to experience this beneficial and fun sport. The benefits of health and mind are clearly tangible.

Some of the things that go into the event... Arranging the site, and insurance. Contacting sponsors, notifying the players, spreading the word. We hand out 300-500 (cheap) footbags to kids who try the "footbag challenge" (to kids who want to play 'hacky sack'), and we have a sound system that I pay for out-of-pocket. This year we are having a t-shirt for all entrants that I pay for up front out of pocket, but I hope to recover some of it through entry fees. I am making a kick for health banner for the event, inviting onlookers to come over and try the sport of footbag.

We are greatful to the City of Chicago for providing the site, and to all the players coming out. Our sponsors, Freedom Footbags and World Footbag Association ( have provided prizes for our players. To the IFPA for sanctioning the event, and to all the support that IFPA's website,, provides to the event. I am greatful to all the players who have attended, and competed at the MidWest regional Footbag Championships over the years, this being our 25th year in a row. We are extremely thankful that Steve Goldberg is so committed to the sport of footbag that he took his mileage benefits to bring the current World Footbag Freestyle champion to this event which further helps us to attract new players. I have sent out a wave of press releases, and am about to send out my second wave of them. We have had great support from WGN and local television stations, and hope for more opportunities there. Of course, thanks to the CIC (Chicago Inner Circle) footbag club who have helped to promote the sport to the players and to run the events at the tournament. It is all the effort that goes into an event like this that makes it a success.

A new wrinkle, we have to provide insurance to McCormick place this year. That is an unexpected expense that is necessary to keep this event alive.

Shred notes: 12/11/09
Hit Gyro Butterfly Swirl on my solid side and almost on my flipside. Otherwise, a solid jam session.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Music selection is critical!

When I train for a performance, it is imperative that i carefully pick music. There are so many variables...
First, beats per minute needs to be close to my 110bpm with rare exceptions made for the feel of the song.
Second, I look for songs without words, especially for international competitions (except I haven't gone overseas lately).
Thirdly, I like it to have periodical tempo pauses to facilitate frozen tricks done on beat
Fourthly, I need to 'relate' to the song because I'll be meditating with positive mental visualization techniques whenever I can get my headphones to my ear.
Fifthly, the audience needs to 'get it'. The relationship between player and Footbag needs to be glaringly obvious. I'll be videotaping it today and reviewing it tonight to see if, upon review, all my assumptions from above are working for me.
Not in any particular order.

When I drafted this post yesterday, I thought I knew which music I would be performing to. It had all the elements above except BPM. So it is back to searching for music. Damn.

Shred notes: 12/8/09
Skooled routines. Did 'wind shreds' for 30m. Need new music. Filmed another contest video.

- enlightener

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Longevity is IN the shoes!

Literally. I wear Spenco insoles in every pair of shoes I own, and I have done this since 1985. I competed at 20 consecutive World Championships, I won the Singles Freestyle World Champion title in 1999, and have shredded hard (more intense than 'high-impact' aerobics) every day for the past 1081 days since I turned 40, and I stand all day at work, 5 days a week.

While having a sensible daily training regimen, and a healthy diet play into my longevity. When it comes down to it, every time my foot hits the ground, it has landed on a Spenco insole. A simple combination of nitrogen injected neoprene and a green fabric layer that create the experience of walking, standing and landing on clouds.

I started wearing them when my shins hurt in 1985. Made a special trip to an indoor mall in Boulder, CO, scoured several stores and found the Spencos Insoles (I prefer no arch support). My pain went away, and I keep Spencos under my every step.

I would hereby like to make an unsolicited endorsement based on empirical experience, that Spenco insoles are a huge part of the secret of my longevity. Not a secret anymore though.

I still compete (whenever I can afford to travel) and train daily in footbag freestyle, and while most of the people I am up against are half my age, I am still considered a threat when I enter a competition. And in every pair of shoes I wear, I have a set of Spenco Insoles between the ground and my feet!

Shred notes: 12/5/09
Day 1081. Stuck diving same symposium whirls on both sides and both on film. Couple of other good strings too.

- enlightener

Friday, December 4, 2009

Economy of motion

When I visualize atomic sets, I start to think about economy of motion and timing. Doing tricks that require two and three dexterity elements requires finding the most efficient path. In the case of atomic and nuclear tricks the challenge for me was to learn the 'hippy' method of reverse mirage. From there I could apply it to many tricks.

Atomic sets require throwing the first dex over the upward moving Footbag, so a traditional reverse mirage motion that happens at the apex isn't fast enough. To achieve atomic, the set and leaping hippy dex happen simultaneously.

Economy of motion is the key to refining 'tough' moves and developing new ones. Well, that is the physical challenge. Sometimes the mental block of dismissing something as 'impossible' is a larger obsticle, because if you never try something due to it's percieved impossibility, then how could you get to the part where you would refine the motion to make it possible. Believe!

Shred notes: 12/4/09
Just a typical day. Some good strings at the end. Indoors.

- enlightener

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Enlightener enters video contest! Vote Now!

Footbag freestyle needs exposure. Enlightener has video camera. Well, you get the idea. I need u to vote! Now! And three times a day for the next ten days. Please! at the upper left corner, click the vote button.

I promise to enter many more video contests, and inject Footbag into every entry!

I need access to a HD camera soon. Hmmm...


- enlightener

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Warm-up Strings serve a purpose!

Thanks to Dennis Jones for this inspiration!
I endorse the use of drills in training. I have a need to get warm quickly, and a need to always be skooling my foundation 'set' moves like butterflies, osii, blurs and blizzards, whirls and barflies.

Back in the early 90's I was sponsored by my wife's company to go to the Heart if Freestyle tourney run by Kendall Kick and attended by Everyone! I think of this event every time I hear the song 'Love Shack', what a great event! The year prior to this I had lost 50 pounds and proved my comeback at worlds a month earlier, this is the event that I was inducted into BAP, one of my proudest moments in the sport.

Anyway, Dennis Jones was there, and he was really good at short patterns like infinity-butterfly-infinity-butterfly and osis-butterfly-osis-butterfly. When I spoke with him about it he argued that these drills help the foundation of your game, and I immediately made some drills for myself. Those drills are still great, and important for every player.

For me, these drills have evolved into what I call 'warm-up strings.'. Every day I use these strings to get warm for bigger and better strings. And because I do them every day, I am confident that they can get me warm in a predictable 15-20 minutes. They also guarantee that I practice my basics every day!

Make your own patterns, based on your skill set, and play everyday!

Big announcement today... Coming via facebook later today.

- enlightener