Saturday, January 29, 2011

1500 Days of Shred, 1.5 Million Tricks and Playing everyday!

Ever since I turned 40, I've been skooling my footbag freestyle game every single day!  It keeps the mind fresh and the body young.

This video features highlights with some of my thoughts as voiceovers.

Thanks to Theo 'DaMadGreek' Demeris for letting me use his audio tracks for background music!  Check his channel at:

"No excuses."

The dialog from the movie is posted below:

At this point, ive been playing footbag for over 27 years, but when I turned 40 in 2006, which at this point is1500 days ago,   I decided to start playing every day, this short film is really just a compilation of  clips from practic sessions that we call shreds, with voice overs that reflect my thoughts.  I hope you have as much fun viewing it as I had making it.

I'd like to thank the mad greek for providing the background music.

During this time I've been on such shows as America's got talent and local news like wgntv in chicago.

This is my son Alex in a consecutives contest at NYJ at holiday sports festival an annual event that we host.

This is just days after my 40th biryhday when I started playing every day.

My sessions last typically about an hour, sometimes I do 2 sessions a day... but not more than 2x a week.  But at a 1000 kicks per session, comes to about 1.5 million tricks over the past 4 years or so.

When I turned 40 back in 2006, I became obsessed with the concept of "Use it or Lose it," and looked at my errratic shred session schedule, and decided to put my obsession  where my mouth is, and play every day.  So while I have been practicing the craft for the past  23 years, I had undertaken a commitment that was a great personal challenge that would lead to introspecition and some basic truths.

I've come to some conclusions, things like those little pains that never go away, you've got to play through them.   They are just a trick that the body plays on the mind as it tries to get out of work.  Little pains go away a little after starting.  Injuries are different, but I'm fortunate not to suffer from any serious ones.

Sometimes just getting started was the hardest part.  The mental game was strong here.  I found that after I made it through my warm ups, that I no longer wanted to blow off my session.  What I gained from this is an ability to recognize and overcome the mental chatter that might otherwise  supply me with excuses to skip my session.  

I also couldn't let the lack of a location become an excuse.  I boldly walk into hotels and find a spot to play at, sometimes in a forgotten stairwell.  Mainly I play at Mammoth Springs with seclusion and wind protection, at the service entrance at my workplace, or in my living room.  Whenever possible I play at festivals, concerts and promote the sport.  

When I worked downtown, I'd go out in front of my store in full body running thermals, put chemical  hand warmers under my toes just to stay warm.   And when I'd end, I'd literally have steam coming off of me.  

Whenever possible have music to kick to , it really makes it better when kicking with music.

I pretty much always warm up with the same tricks every day, I call them "Warm up strings".  10 in a row, infinity osis, ripwalk, paradox whirl, spinning butterflies and blurs and blizzards. 

I always end with a worthy "Out" string, thats utilizes the things that I had been working on that day, along with my other tricks in a really long string that would be worthwhile to publish on like say, the internet.  

Speaking to the mental part of the game, I try to think of it as play time, or recess... not really a workout.  Work is hard, it's not work, it's fun, it's play, I have a great time doing it.  

Early on, back in 2007, my hip started to hurt.  But it was a blessing in disguise as it changed my focus in a new direction... I started working on my flipside which improved my game and gave my right hip the time it needed to heal. 

I also find, that when I have a goal, something to focus on, when I get into my workout, I get warm faster, it's a strong motivator for me, and when I achieve those goals, I feel a sense of success.

In order to get the most shred time out of a single recess , which most people call lunch... I wear my kicking shorts and shirt under my work clothes, and just shed layers to get started. 

I think an hour long lunch is better spent shredding, because a 15 minute break is really twice as long as it takes to eat.

We've kicked at theme parks, like disney world, at parades in Oak park, at the Daley Center and many venues.  We'be been kicked out of many places  too, by the security there.  We call it the 'Security Test" when the Security guard passes us up and keeps walking then we've passed the security test, if not then we have to deal with security and hope we don't get kicked out.

This is footage from Lollapalloza in 2009.  

Rob McCloskey inspired me back in the day, when I lost 50 lbs. playing footbag, that was back in 1992.  He said 'Kick 1000 Kicks a Day' and I said 'How about a 1000 Tricks a Day."  And I carried a counter with me, and after I did my strings, I clicked off how many tricks I did.  And I wouldn't stop until I reached a 1000 tricks, which took a little over a half hour to complete.   

I did have a lot of accomplishments in the past 4 years or so.  Including 2nd in the World with Keaton Halley in Doubles Footbag Team Freestyle.  And while we were training for that, we went to California and filmed for Americas Got Talent, but we didn't get on the air.

Here is some rare footage of me kicking in a field

And for the first time, in 2010, I got see the footage of me winning the World Championships in 1999.  Thanks to John Hentges for that.

During this time, we attended events such as New Years Jam,  Midwest Regional Championships, Windy City Open, several Funtastik events, Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest, USOpen Tennis Championships, several apperances on WGN-TV, WGN Health fairs, jockey underwear contest, America's Got Talent, Snicker kicker, mountain dew spec ads,  won a camera from a Cheerios contest and I plan to enter more contests!

It's sometimes hard to get started, always hard to stop.

Thanks for checking it out!
See ya!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Mental Game: Shifting my perception of difficulty makes tricks easier!

"Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical."
   -Attributed to Yogi Berra

I have written about this before, but I feel the need to repeat it from my experience today.  We all know that the mental game is important.  Personally, I need to periodically step back from my day-to-day routine and look at my game from the perspective of 'what might be', as opposed to 'what I believe I'm capable of.'

Today I was challenged by my facebook friends to work on Rubberman, along with some strings I would not have probably thought to attempt on my own.  All these tricks are based on Atomic sets, which have always been challenging for me, even though I have spent the past several years actively working on them.  So in my mind, I have built up an aura of difficulty in my mind around the notion of Atomic tricks.  I have physically worked them to the point that I can hit them 70% of the time, but I was finding myself only working them once a week due to my 'perception' that they were high impact.  I was recently skooling Paradox Symp Whirls (rainbows) and caused a compression related impact pain in my right lower back.  In my mind, the Atomic tricks were as high-impact as the PSWhirls.  In retrospect, after careful physical analysis, I have to say that while Atomic tricks are more taxing on the hamstrings and hip related dexterity, that the impact is minimal because the set foot touches down almost immediately.

Now that I have reset my perception of Atomic tricks, I have allowed myself to obsess on them.  I can't stop doing them.  I'm hitting Leg Beaters, EggPlant, and Atom Smashers.  I'm hitting Atomic tricks from all kinds of sets, and I'm hitting all kinds of tricks out of Leg Beaters now, thanks to my facebook friends challenging me.  It has caused some stress on other parts of my legs, but as long as I don't over do it, I should be okay.  I'll always rely on my cross body tricks to some extent, but it is nice to escape that.  I want to be able to throw atomic tricks in mid string confidently and from unexpected places.

Shred notes: 1/23/2011
I also skooled juggles, particularly Seamless-Legbeaters-out of juggles.  I'll keep skooling it and I'll publish a juggling video again soon.  Imagine juggle-juggle-juggle-legbeater-blur-juggle-juggle-juggle-legbeater-blur.  Working on that kind of stuff.  Seamless-in juggle, seamless-out juggle.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trickle Up Shredology - The best tip ever!

This is the best tip ever.   Thanks to Steve Goldberg, Brat, the greatest benefactor to the sport of footbag.

This has come full circle.  I started by skooling the basics.  As I got better, I learned the "Economy of Motion" and got better at trimming time off of movement by finding and training more efficient paths.  Spending less effort to get more done.  Particularly when ending a trick, I have learned over time to catch the footbag with the minimum downward motion possible, which is one of many 'economy of motions.'  To make matters worse, I spent about week this summer focusing on 'rooted' tricks which are distinguished because the catching foot is the plant.

This reduction of downward motion in catching the footbag in order to complete my most difficult tricks is causing my form to suffer when doing the most basic versions of the tricks.  For instance, it is generally more efficient to complete a Paradox Torque by expending as little effort as possible on the catch, and doing it at the last moment.  On the other hand, the trick is more 'solid' when I am able to utilize 'economy of motion' during the dexterity part of the trick and spend more time on the 'catching' part of the trick.

One of the side effects of spending years of training to reduce the distance needed to catch a footbag at the end of advanced tricks, is when you do the basic component, it looks rushed and unpolished.

As a part of my daily training (1493 in a row today), I warm up using my 'basic' staple tricks.  For instance I don't want to spend too much time training tricks I have mastered, I use those to warm up with.  I do 10 osis, 10 infinity's, 10 ripwalks, I do 10 reps of my whirl/osis combo, ripwalks, blurs/blizzards and paradox whirls.  I am getting into the zone at this time and generally just gaining the proper focus I need for the rest of my jam session.  Thanks to this new tip, I am really gaining better basic form.

In the past few weeks focusing on the depth of my clipper catches and I can really feel a difference in my control and general ability to maintain long strings.  I am really happy that a friend like Steve took the time to mention this very basic observation to me at the New Years Jam this past December.  I have been working on it every day since then and am really feeling the difference!

Shred Notes: Jan 2011
In addition to working the solidness of my clipper tricks, I have spent a lot of time working on front side tricks.  I have particularly been recategorizing Atomic tricks into low-impact.  I have always thought of Atomic tricks as high-impact, but have recently discovered that they really aren't.  I hit both Atom Smashers in a single string, which was a big barrier for me, but might seem basic for you.  I also realized that I have been hitting LegBeaters on both sides (I've been calling them atomic butterflies), and then was challenged by Tuukka to do blur, LegBeater, Blurry Whirl, Blur, LegBeater Blurry whirl and hit all those components with an extra spinning butterfly before the 2nd blur.  Very happy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

NYJ 2010 Thank You's!

Freestyle Footbag enthusiasts from around the world gathered from December 18-20 at the Hyatt McCormick Place to jam until their legs couldn't take it anymore!  We played all day and night for 3 days, and I met many new faces, and got to catch up with some old friends in the process.

This event could not have happened without the support of many people.  I wanted to put out thank you's to everyone and I hope I didn't leave anyone out...

Thanks to the players that showed up at 10am at the site so we could start teaching and make the site look alive.

Thanks to Chicago's Mayors Office of Special Events for providing the site, fencing, electricity, tables and chairs... and for the whole assemblage of excellent mini-events that make up this amazing event!  AWESOME!

Thanks to Kevin Cronk for coming down from Petosky Michigan with his family to join us, just like old times when I met Kevin back in 1990.  Two old skoolers, still playing.  Time flies when you're having fun.

Thanks to our new friends John and Sarah from Dragonfly Footbags who sponsored our event not only with enough footbags to give out to passersby who tried to play footbag, and for the great prizes... but also contributed cash prizes of $450 to make our players really go for it to win the cash!

We only handed out about 75 footbags this year to kids who took the time to try our sport.  Compared to 450 two years ago.  But the footbags were MUCH higher quality then the cheapo chinese footbags we were giving away, so that should be a better experience for all these kids who received a footbag from us.

Thanks to our players who jumped in and helped teach kids who wandered by, when I was busy doing other stuff.  Even when played casually, our sport offers a great opportunity for kids to socialize with their friends while they get their 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

Thanks to our past sponsors such as World Footbag Association and Freedom Footbags who would have sponsored us if I had asked.  Sorry I was lazy this year and didn't even ask for their support.

Thanks to Steve (Brat) Goldberg for hosting the Hospitality Suite again!  He sacrificed his room so we would all have a place to hang out together and enjoy the times between our shreds.  Brat also sponsored the Shred Room, and made that possible!  I apologize for leaving on Sunday without specifically thanking Steve for coming out again!  I had a great time getting to spend time around the Brat.  Always a pleasure, and Thanks again!

Thanks to CIC for drumming up interest, for housing our players from out of town, for raising money to have the extra room the extra Monday to continue to play at the Hyatt Site for a third day!  Specifically Tom Kotsakos, job well done.

Thanks to Modern Music of Lisle for providing affordable rental of sound systems.  I wish Cory Current would have been at the event, he is the one who told us about Modern Music.

Some missing faces: Scot Hansen, Eric Cokee, Ted Martin, Steve Smith, Jay Claffey, PJ Lareau, Hacky Sack Jack, Larry Doyle (well, he died, but we still miss him terribly)...

Thanks to Valeria and Alex who put up with my obsessive behavior when it comes to the sport of footbag.

Thanks to all the players who took their valuable vacation time and spent it with us in Chicago.  You are the reason these events are worth hosting year after year.  It is a treat for me to have all these shredders in-town, as it is extremely difficult for me to travel to events these days.  I hope I got to shred with everyone who was there, but I doubt it.  I had a blast and thanks for coming to Chicago for the 2010 New Years Jam.

We are planning to make it an even bigger event next year, so start planning now!

See ya next year!
Scott Davidson