Any new activity, hobby, or sport can be chaotic for a new player to learn and not feel like they are an idiot out there, especially with people who play frequently.
What I would suggest is that you take some time and maybe start playing some of these games below or work on practicing moves so that you have a base skill floor to move forward.
One of the best things about footbag in general is that there is a tight-knit group overall and people just cheer each other on without the negativity that is in many other games, it is quite unique.
What is a hacky sack game?
A hacky sack game is a game that involves kicking a hacky sack (a small, round bag filled with sand or pellets) with your feet. The goal is to keep the hacky sack in the air for as long as possible, using any part of your foot but your hands.
Hacky Sack Games for Beginners
There are many games available for players who are looking to learn to gain additional skills that may differ from their typical game skills.
Some will be better with more available players and some will work by yourself or with a friend only, in the end you are looking to build your coordination.
Some famous hacky sack games are freestyle, circle, knockout, Numbers, horse, Hot Potato, Count and Catch, shark and monkey in the middle.
Let’s discuss these hacky sack games one-by-one!
The best way to play when you are by yourself, a focus in this will be to learn to control the footbag fully from kicking to stalls. Your goal being to maintain the bag in the air as long as possible (in time and kicks) by managing each kick.
Freestyle is what many videos on YouTube are about which shows the vast array of tricks that are available and how you can effectively string them together to make a unique string.
One of the most well known games of footbag to most who casually know about the game, this is the version that is played with everyone forming a circle and kicking the bag to one another while attempting to keep it form hitting the ground.
Typically this game starts with a soft toss to one player to start the kicking, this person can do limited juggling but it is poor form to keep the footbag for multiple kicks.
Then you pass the footbag to the next person, this doesn’t need to be the person next to you.
Play will continue until the bag touches the ground and your goal is to complete the circle as many times as possible, this “complete” would be when everyone in the circle touches the hacky sack at least one time. Then you would start the next circle.
Very similar to circle above but with the addition of when you fail to continue the game you are removed from the circle and play continues with who is remaining. The game continues until there is only one person left and this person is declared the winner and the game can restart anew.
This game has some special rules to stop people from cheat kicking and making it unplayable then it isn’t a valid clean pass to a playable or reachable space then you reset and the play starts over.
This is again a change up to the main circle style of gameplay where you will kick the bag around the circle but the first player will kick the footbag once, the second player needs to kick the footbag twice, and so on.
Should you fail to kick the number required you are knocked out of the play for this round and the play once again resumes at the first player and single kick and will continue until only one player remains.
Lets be honest, I am fairly certain everyone at some point has played HORSE, this is where someone will perform a feat and everyone has to duplicate it or they gain a letter and when they reach HORSE they are out.
With hacky sack this doesn’t change as you will perform a trick and then everyone else in the group needs to perform the same trick or they gain a letter, once someone reaches HORSE you are out.
Typically after a failure the next trick will be done by the next player in the group and not reverted back to the first player, this ensures that a new player gets to extend out the play with a different trick.
6. Hot Potato
Basically this amounts to everyone can kick the bag a single time and the goal being to complete the circle without a failure. Should you miss your hit or kick the bag far out of the game play area then you are out and play continues.
To play this game the most organized way you should kick to the same player so you would always kick to the player to your left or to your right and everyone does the same thing to make play organized.
7. Count and Catch
While circle traditionally is not about hogging the bag and that you pass it on in the count and catch game you will want to juggle it as many times as possible and end with a catch.
Then once complete you will pass the bag onto the next player whose goal is to juggle at least one more time than you.
The reason why “catch” is part of this game is you need to declare when you think you are at your final juggle before you would lose control, this puts you in control.
Should the next player juggle more than you and catch the footbag afterwards than you are out, so maximizing your count matters!
For beginners this game is very entertaining as you will have less overall juggles and time, this game becomes less interesting the more experienced you become as you will spend longer waiting for your chance to play.
This game, while sounding similar to HORSE, could be almost no more different! When you play this game you are looking to spell out SHARK in consecutive kicks, one per letter to spell “SHARK”.
As soon as the “K” is spoken all players need to plant their feet on the ground like they are in cement blocks and they can attempt to grab the bag with their hands from the air.
The player who grabs the bag from the air is then able to choose to throw it, dodgeball style, at another player to “tag” them out.
This player can attempt to dodge the ball but must ensure at least one foot stays anchored in place, if they are hit they are out of the game.
Play continues in this way until only one player is left and is declared the winner.
9. Monkey in the Middle
This game is typically going to feature 3 players, the to players and a mid player, this mid player is attempting to play “goal keeper” and to stop the passes between the players.
This player in the middle will be replaced when one of two game events occur, they block a pass or the player kicks the bag out of bounds.
Then a swap will occur to allow the players to continually play, this game has no “winning” condition and is played until everyone decides to take a break.
10. Four Square
Very much similar to the game with the red rubber ball from elementary school four square is focused around having four players attempt to cover and defend their square from having the footbag hit inside.
Typical layout for a four square playfield that the squares are 5′ each which would make a playfield a 10’x10′ square to contain 4 individual squares of play.
When you play in footbag you will aim to own “square one” which you can label with something around and should you fil to kick it to another square, like dropping or missing a kick or kicking out of bounds, you would need to move to square four again.
Typically you would determine how many rounds a player needs to stay in square one to be declared the winner and the goal of everyone else is to knock off player one while also moving themselves up squares towards being in square one.
Golf is a more unique game where you set up a hole with a start point and a bucket at the end, your goal being to cover the distance between and put your bag in the bucket in the least amount of kicks possible.
Unlike many other games where you are aiming to control kicks in a close proximity of your body, in golf you are attempting to typically kick longer distances but also with accuracy.
As footbags don’t fly long distances with ease a poor kick can doom you in this game if you can’t manage to cover the distance in a straight line you are putting yourself at a severe disadvantage.
The skill comes towards the end where you need to kick the bag into the bucket to finish which will add many kicks if you can’t aim your kick and put it on target.
Final Thoughts on Hacky Sack Games for Beginners
I have long been a fan of circle and freestyle as they are the easiest way to get games going, they don’t need large volumes of space and can be played at any time.
A 20g hacky sack is able to be brought with you anywhere and anyplace which allows for a nice break.
Each game though may help you with individual skills that other games may not focus on, like freestyle is working on balance, stalling, kick control in a bubble.
Circle is managing to control someone else’s kick and be able to provide it back to the circle to continue playing, while they sound similar in play they are very different.
Everyone should take time to learn at least the game types and see what is a match for them in playing, for some thing will be freestyle but others will like games like Golf as they are more socially oriented.
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