After watching countless hours of shred on YouTube and in person and seeing the same mistakes over and over and over, and hearing about the same people get injured over and over and over, I've decided to make this list.
From studying acrobatics, as well as dance and body mehanics for the past couple years, I feel I have a solid knowledge of how the body works. It's never a good idea to undertake a sport without knowing how to execute the techniques properly. Footbag is certainly no exception. With no official manual outlining proper form, and with the average level getting higher and higher each year, it's important to stop and think about what your body is doing. This is something that could effect you negatively in later years, yet few players take the time to really analyze their form.
For the first time, from a scientific/anatomical perspective, I present to you:
10 Most Common Form Mistakes
WHAT: Sticking your butt out/slouching your shoulders/curving your spine forward/relaxing your stomach
WHY IT'S BAD: It's probably the most common mistake, and ironically one of the most potentially devastating. Slack posture while playing can lead to major back problems, among other things.
HOW TO FIX: Keep your back as straight as possible while playing. Abs are flexed. Keep your chest high. Neck on top of your shoulders, not in front. Neck, shoulders and hips should form a straight line. Leaning slightly forward by bending at the waist to help see the bag is ok, but keep those abs flexed.
2. Flat Feet
WHAT: Sitting back on the heels/landing on the entire foot at once/pushing off with all parts of the sole
WHY IT'S BAD: Shin splints/calf pain/back pain/overworked thighs/the list goes on. Staying back on the heels puts loads of stress on the thighs and quads as they try to balance and stabilize you.
It's a fight to keep from falling backwards constantly. Your leg muscles won't develop in a helpful way for footbag either. Landing on the heels creates an impact shockwave that ripples throughout your entire body.
HOW TO FIX: Keep your weight FORWARD. Stay on the balls of your feet. Sure, touch your heels down but AVOID putting pressure on them. Push off the ground and land both with the balls of your feet. Your body will thank you.
3. Legs do All the Work
WHAT: Legs are flailing around dexing wildly, exerting tons of energy while the hips stay motionless and uninvolved.
WHY IT'S BAD: Legs aren't designed to shred by themselves. Besides, it's terribly inefficient. This can pull muscles in your hips, legs or back. A clear symptom is when someone brings their knee to their chest just to do a legover or butterfly. Very common. Don't do it.
HOW TO FIX: By keeping the weight forward (#2) and the stomach muscles tight (#1) you can keep the footbag close to your body and underneath your torso, thus eliminating the need to do a huge backwards-leaning leg lift or knee-to-hunching-shoulder scenario.
Use your hips to pivot side to side while isolating the shoulders to complete dexes like mirages. Open and close the hips for butterflies and illusions.
4. Not Stretching
WHAT: Overly tight muscles/poor range of movement/not warming up properly/allowing lactic acid buildup
WHY IT'S BAD: Yes, tight muscles can be fast and responsive. However, the low flexibility can be very limiting to your potential trick selection. Tight muscles can also tear or strain easily.
HOW TO FIX: Stretch to either start or end your sessions. Get your heart rate up from several minutes of cardio. Start with core first (shoudlers, hips, back) then extremities, especially ankles (#9).
5. Looking Down with the Neck
WHAT: Sticking your neck out like a turtle to see the bag below you/sticking your chest out by pulling your shoulders back
WHY IT'S BAD: Ever watched a movie from the front row? Yeah, exactly -- neck strain. But down instead of up.
HOW TO FIX: Keeping your head above your shoulders and shoulders above hips, simply bring your chin slightly down towards your collarbone. Problem solved.
6. Palms Facing Chest/Outwards
WHAT: Elbows down and hands up in front of your shoulders/Arms at your sides with elbows bent and wrists turned out
WHY IT'S BAD: Both ways of holding your arms do nothing to help you balance! They also look terrible. The first one is more or a left/right brain discrepancy I think. Outwards hands raises your shoulders creating unnecessary tension in that area.
HOW TO FIX: Keep your arms relaxed at your sides for easier moves like kicks. Palms face either down, back, or inwards. For moves requiring extra balance or jumping, one or both elbows raise at your sides with palms facing down most of the time.
7. Pointing your Knees Inward/Spotting Toe Stalls on the Outside of Your Knee
WHAT: Separating the knees then rotating either one or both knees inward/Standing or playing pigeon-toed/Bringing your knee across the body while catching or setting toe stalls
WHY IT'S BAD: Knees are designed to flex and extend vertically. Or the very same motions with the hips rotated. Knees are NOT designed to bend horizontally when the hips are straight. Flexing the knee without the heel in line with the upper leg is recipe for a nagging injury. Not to mention it throws your back out of line!
HOW TO FIX: Spot the bag properly by opening the hips and seeing it on the INSIDE of your knee. Swing the leg forward and up (think pushing a bike pedal backward) Keep your heel in line with your upper leg whenever bending the knee. Knees should stay together and tall yet slightly bent whenever not in direct use. Never bring your knee inwards to do tricks like whirl. Separate the knees by opening the hips and do the dex away and slightly behind you.
8. Cushioning with Stalling Foot Only
WHAT: No magic hop/ Body lowering and the stall happening at different times/ Support leg not helping to cushion at all
WHY IT'S BAD: You probably won't ever get injured because of it, but your consistency for stalling moves will be forever hindered. Expect a lifetime of frustration due to missed stalls, rolloff and dud sets.
HOW TO FIX: Land the magic hop and at the EXACT SAME TIME you catch the bag. Always magic hop for clippers -- it doesn't have to be big jump. Land the magic hop on the ball of your foot and then bend the knee. For toes, keep the stalling leg in the same position and lower your SUPPORT LEG when it lands Also, it's a good general rule to keep your shoulders square to whatever stall you're doing. Launch your shoulders and elbows up quickly to give yourself a nice little pop for the set.
9. Bad Ankle Crank
WHAT: Not locking the ankles strong enough upwards for toe stalls/Ankle not flexed or inside surface not flat when in clipper position
WHY IT'S BAD: Same as #8. Bad crank won't hurt you, but you'll be plagued with inconsistency and 6-trick strings forever.
HOW TO FIX: Stretch your ankles! Stretch them before, during and after sessions. Stretch them while waiting at the bus stop. Stretch them while sitting at your desk. Stretch them whenever you can. This is your gateway to amazing clipper tricks. Check around the forum for various stretching methods (and yes, stretching does work).
10. Rushing Stalls
WHAT: Not securing the footbag in the 'sweet spot' before setting the next move/ Always playing like you're racing against a clock/ Having inconsistent timing and rhythm in your runs
WHY IT'S BAD: This also falls in the 'doomed for inconsistency' category. Offbeat or syncopated runs cause a lot of unexpected drops. Rushing causes imperfect stalls which can lead to unpredictable sets.
HOW TO FIX: Take the same amount of time every time to cushion the bag, catching it in the exact same location of the foot. Try to perform each trick with the same timing every time. This is the only way to achieve a very high level of consistency. If the bag is rolling around on your foot, take extra time to cushion, get it into the sweet spot and FREEZE it before setting. Study Lon Smith's videos.
**Don't let yourself be guilty of any of these! As always, keep refining and improving your technique!!**
Shred hard...and safe!
Last edited by Jorden
on Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.