Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dusty halls, with a shiny spot in the middle....

While there is construction going on in my place of daily shred, I suffer in silent hopelessness as I watch the floor gather layer upon layer of plaster dust.

As I get started, I pour a little water on the floor off to the side and I get the bottoms of my shoes wet. My feet seem to be stickier when their bottoms are damp, but not dripping wet, which could be dangerous. Being damp they tend to stick better, especially important when spinning, which I do a lot of.

Over the years, I've had to play on just about every possible surface, and polished are among the worst. If there is any way to use a sacrifice towel to clear the floor, I'll do it. But often instead of cleaning the whole floor, I'll use my towel as a damp rag on the floor that we can get our feet wet with. On a daily basis, I typically just put water on the ground, to save on laundry which I already produce lots of. At tournaments, if not already done by the tourney director, I'll coordinate a pass over the playing area with a wet towel over a broom. I remember in Vancouver 2000, the floor was slippery and I had to use a wet rag on the ground to help. I think I took 2nd that year, another of my many 2nd places at worlds, more than anyone else.

In my double secret dojang, looking from one end of the hall to another, there is a clean spot due to my 'sole grease' every day. The construction workers probably don't even notice it, but it messes with the air quality and sure makes it slippery. I hope to be outdoors for so many reasons, air quality and floor grip are just two of those reasons.

See ya!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rapid Cool Downs... almost over for the season.

A Rapid Cool Down is something I have been enjoying during the winter, and will certainly miss during the summer.

I finish my footbag freestyle jam session in my double secret dojang every day during lunch (1186 days in a row today), sweating up a storm. Then, less than 10 minutes later, I need to be at work and ready to go. My rapid cool-down is accomplished by walking from the dojang to my place of employment outdoors in my shorts and t-shirt. This quickly stops the body from sweating, then a simple wipe down and get dressed is all I need to do to get started.

In the summer months, I have to allow more time to cool down because my body just keeps on sweating. During the summer, I Xoot from work to my outdoor dojang (that I call Mammoth Springs) and back again. The wind in my face is as rapid of a cool down as I can get. In the summer I need more time to clean up and to allow for cool down in the summer.

Ironically while it takes longer to warm up in the winter, it is faster to cool down. And in the summer it is quicker to warm up, and takes longer to cool down.


Shred Notes: 3/20/2010
Mobius with reverse direction dex (not sure what that is called), hit it on my flipside easier than on my main side.
Skooling music choices for Worlds 2010 already. Determined to have a solid routine, well practiced and ready to go for Worlds this year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Finally outdoors again!

I am uncharacteristically excited about the weather situation here and now in Chicago area.
I am riding my xootr again every day, I'm going to start a blog about xootrs soon.
I'm getting out at breaks on my xootr. I'm wearing shorts almost all the time again. I'm finally shredding outdoors again. I've found at least 3 great songs to do a routine to, now I have to whiddle them down to one.
I get to go to the park more with my son and wife. I suppose I just didn't appreciate what I was missing, until I had it again. Getting back out to the forest trails on my xootr, along the lakefront downtown, shredding outdoors,

Sooooo refreshing. I'm definitely opening all the windows in my home when I get there tonight!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Peripheral Vision... Nature or Nurture?

It is so important to have good peripheral vision when playing footbag freestyle. It reduces the need to turn your body and neck as much, and increases the chance you will see the footbag out of the corner of your eye enough so that you can complete the trick.

Is good peripheral vision something that people are born with, or is it something that can be improved upon with practice. When I googled it, I got a wikipedia article that has a great quote...

"Peripheral vision can be practiced, jugglers that regularly locate and catch objects in their peripheral vision do have improved abilities. Jugglers do not follow the paths of individual objects with their eyes, instead they focus on a defined point in mid-air, so almost all of the information necessary for successful catches is perceived in the near-peripheral region. Some juggling patterns and disciplines require extraordinary peripheral vision." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripheral_vision

"...and disciplines." We are foot jugglers, and in that sense we are another discipline that fits into this model. I really had a gut feeling that it was something that is improved upon with practice, and now I am wiki-sure about it.

I am so glad that I am continuing to keep my streak of number of days in a row skooling footbag freestyle going... 1182 today. A little pain is still there in the back of the upper right leg.

Shred notes: 2/15/10
I am trying to get my music together for world championships this year. I have a really good option that I have to go put into my iphone so I can work on it tomorrow at skool.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Clearly focused on ambiguous goals!

I've established that I get more from a jam session when I have a clear goal. But that is not always the case, sometimes I just flow with the music, get warm and see what happens. Kinda like the funky chicken method... just get into the music and it will be good.

For example, today I am still sore from a past injury, not sure where I'd be able to get to today. I got warm and worked on a few phobic sets and two innovations came to me. Phobic spinning cross body rake, and Phobic spinning paradox whirl (same). I have now hit both of them, AND both sides "Fairy Reverse swirl." As I shred every day, I've noticed that I approach every jam differently. Sometimes based on my mood, and attitude. While I'd love to have a specific goal to work on each day, I'm just not that structured of a person. I'd rather jam, let it flow and see what happens when I don't have specific goals. So while I love the experience of shredding, sometimes just playing is the reward, and some of those times lead to the greatest moments of innovation. Today is 1,182 in a row of serious shredding. Happy for every moment.

On another note:
A funny thing happened a few weeks ago, I kicked my most recent freedom footbag (orange and blue) onto a light fixture out of reach of my shortness. So today, after my jam session, I went on a break and ducked into my double secret shred spot to make a call and eat some grub. I knew if I waited long enough, it would still be there, and I had clearly waited long enough. There was a leak in the ceiling and a worker left a ladder just 20 feet from where I needed it. So I got my footbag back, just had to be patient.

Footbag Freestyle - This is not your father's hacky sack!

Shred notes:
Fairy (same) Whirling X-body rake, both sides! Plus everything mentioned above happened in the past few days. Also wore a pedometer for 3 days, had 4000 steps on day 1, but on day 2 I xooted to work and wore it while I worked out and hit 6000. On day 3, I xooted to and from work, and wore the damn thing during my jam and still only hit 6600.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why footbag doesn't have sponsors...

As an athlete, I focus on improving my game. Longer string lengths, better tricks, and integrating new more difficult tricks into my longer strings. In any other sport, or dare I say in 'every' other sport, elite athletes attain sponsorship from companies looking to associate with these athletes. Not in footbag though.

Sports like Snow Boarding and BMX for instance, have industries built around them. Most sports have tons of accessories that the participants need to invest in, companies create these items and sell them to the public. These companies sponsor the best athletes in the hope that the new learners will see their logos on these people, and go buy their stuff. A great win-win situation for the elite athletes in the sport and the industries that supply the products.

One of the greatest things about the sport of footbag is that it is such a low-investment sport, all you need is a footbag that probably costs less than $10 to purchase, and the shoes you already have. This is also our 'sponsorship' downfall. The small companies that make footbags have little budget for sponsorship, as they are barely turning a profit. The large companies that make footbags like Wham-O™ (makers of the Hacky Sack® brand footbag), treat our sport like a game, and they gave up on sponsoring the players back in the early 90's. They rely on their existing distribution channels for their other products to get their products placed on shelves of their vendors, and since they don't support the sport of footbag, they simply don't sponsor events OR athletes.

As an Event Director, I focus on three types of promotion. We need to get the event located into a place that has 'built-in' spectators. We need to get the players to the event, and we need to get sponsors to help pay for the event. Over the years I have been able to get our events located into some great venues like McCormick Place alongside a 50,000 spectator a day sports festival, Taste of Chicago (the worlds largest free admission food festival) with hundreds of thousands of spectators daily and Scot Hansen has been able to run an annual event at Navy Pier. Even though we have placed our events into great venues, we still struggle to get non-footbag related companies to sponsor us. Partially because we don't spend enough of our resources, but mostly because we have given up. The catch-22 is that we have great events with guaranteed spectators, but we have been rejected so many times that we have all but given up on sponsors. We are always looking for companies that would be interested, but because our event directors have had such limited success in attaining sponsors, we just decided that it wasn't worth our time. This of course is an untruth, and we do need to pursue sponsors. I suppose we just have to get 100 NO's for every yes!

I am making a more concerted effort this year to get sponsors for my big event next year, New Years Jam 2010 right after xmas. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Special thanks to Freedom Footbags (freedomfootbags.com) and World Footbag Association (worldfootbag.com) for all their support over the years. At least they have been able to supply prizes that the players really appreciate. We, the sport of footbag and our athletes, are worthy of major sponsorship, just seemingly incapable of attracting them. I promise to get more aggressive on this and I'll let you know how it goes!

Shred notes: 3/4 to 3/9 2010:
I have been nursing my hammy back to full strength, still shredding hard, just not working so much on symposiums and nuclear stuff. I have been waking up after 5-6 hours sleep with back pain. Solution: Sleep only 6 hrs. max.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Family, Footbag and Earning Power

Introspection can produce clarity. In my case I have recently thought a lot about how what is important to me in life. The result is, in this order...
1) Family (My wife and son are the apples of my eye)
2) Footbag (My sport provides me the health, meditation and infamy I need to thrive)
3) 'Work' (My job provides me the earning power to keep it all going)

I put 'work' in quotes because I truly work for a great company that I look forward to going to every day, almost as much as I look forward to going home every night to my family. The cliche 'If you find a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life' is true for me.

I am passionate about all three of these areas of my life and I am proud to say it. Another cliche come true for me is 'Playing at 100%'. I am committed to playing at 100% in each of these areas of my life. When I am with my family, I am present and attentive to their needs. I do everything I can to make our time together memorable and high-value. When I play footbag freestyle, I approach it with the attitude that I can always be better than I currently am. I can continue to achieve excellence in my sport, and in the process it keeps my mind fresh and my body young. And at 43 years old, that is saying something. Today will be 1171 days in a row of shredding, plus 24 years before that. When I go to 'work', I look forward to being the best I can be, contributing to every area of the business in whatever roles are necessary at the time. It is a very rewarding job and I frequently have to 'pinch' myself because it sometimes feels like a dream.

Sure our family has issues that we are working on, but looking around, we have it pretty good. Certainly, I can improve my footbag game and do more, and I am always working on that. And while I could stand to make more money, life is not all about money... at least I do what I love! Thanks to all the people in my life! I am always playing at 100% and I'm proud to say it!


Shred Notes: 3/4/2010
Yesterday I was trying to hit fairy set barfly (triple dex) and I pulled a muscle in the groinal area on the left side. Me thinks I wasn't quite as warmed up as I thought. This morning, thanks to my 'buffy-like' healing powers, I feel much better. It is an Injury with Honor, but I am glad it is not bothering me as much today.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How to run a footbag tournament... Part 1: Production vs. Promotion

As a long-time event director in the sport of footbag, I have hosted events every year for the past 25 years! During that time I have come to a few realizations that I am going to outline on this blog, over several postings.

Promotion vs. Production...
As an event director, you will need to distinguish the differences between Promotion vs. Production.
Promotion happens on several levels, and I will be addressing each of these in future posts as well. Promotion generally happens in advance of an event, where Production mostly happens 'during' the event.

Promotion is easily broken into three parts,
1) Promoting to the athletes to get the competitors to show up.
2) Promoting to the sponsors to offset the costs and hopefully be able to make money on the event.
3) Promoting to Media to make the sponsors happy, and attract spectators to the event.

Production of the event refers to the actual 'doing' of the event, the leg-work per se. Setting up nets (and lines, etc...), sound systems, tents, banners, and all the things that make the event run smoothly, once the event gets started. Most Production items happen on the days before an event, during an event and for a day or two afterward. Some things that are always on my event production checklist are:
Having forms ready to be filled out, having equipment ready to be set up, loading the van (sometimes renting a van). Think about what you need to do AT the event and that all falls under "Production" of an event.

It is also a good idea to send a summary report to all your sponsors individually, letting them know how well the event went, focusing on how well you marketed their brand... how did that particular sponsor benefit from sponsoring your event. I'm not sure if the follow up falls under Production or Promotion, but it still is good form to complete.

Shred notes: 3/1/10
Still not at 100% but getting better. Had some great long strings. Skooled a wide variety of trix but nothing spectacularly unique. Lots of x-body rakes. Used new warm-up strings and got warm really fast.