The reason for this popularity is two-fold - foot-juggling is both deceptively difficult and fantastically fun, when you get the hang of it. It also gives you immediate and obvious feedback about your performance - you either keep the ball in the air or you drop it. This makes it an ideal activity to put one into a state of flow and playful presence, where you are fully focused on exploring the skill and steadily gaining a sense of mastery.
So it’s not really a surprise that the humble Hacky Sack (a loosely spherical bag of beans) became somewhat of a cultural icon in 70’s and 80’s when the game spread like wildfire through the schools and universities of the day. People would practice solo and play in groups, where there was a sense of connection and camaraderie with everyone working together to achieve a common goal - keep the bag in the air! Check out this old news segment from the 1980’s for a full breakdown of the trend:
Although the craze has somewhat died down in the past couple of decades, the sport of Footbag and it’s variations (like Footbag Net) is still played across the world with impressive devotion and skill. Unsurprisingly, this sport is almost ubiquitously played with shoes on - often with specially made shoes that facilitate the performance of certain tricks and moves with the bag.
But through our interest in restoring and exploring foot and hip function, we realised there is immense power in the hacky when played barefoot. Gripping the bag with your toes is an amazing challenge for toe dexterity and control and then integrating that with different patterns to keep it up in the air can build impressive hip mobility and coordination along with balance and agility. Plus just making the time to get out of your shoes and onto some grass to move your body is a powerful practice for physical and mental health!
One thing we figured out pretty quickly though, was just how challenging barefoot hacky really is - even with our strong background in soccer and foot juggling with a ball, keeping the hacky in the air for more than two or three kicks seemed almost impossible at first. With regular practice we improved rapidly but we realised that to make this an accessible skill for anyone to pick up, there needed to be a progressive system. And so the PFKT System was born - the perfect way to learn how to hack barefoot while maximising the benefits to your feet, hips and balance!
Check out the videos below for a full breakdown of the PFKT System: