Footbag Reference: Footbag Net

Footbag Reference

Footbag Net

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Footbag net is a sport governed by the International Footbag Committee in which players use their feet to kick a footbag over a

A footbag net court.
5-foot-high net on a footbag net court. The rules of Footbag net are defined in the IFC's Rules of Footbag Sports, Article 3.

Footbag net combines the coordination of soccer, the court strategy of tennis, and the set-and-spike strategy of volleyball all while using the feet. Players demonstrate remarkable agility by spiking the footbag over the net, using either the sole of the foot, a sweeping inside kick, or an outside push. Even more remarkable than the spikes are the "digs" players use to defend against the spikes. Players also block spikes in the air with amazing foot-to-foot battles over the net.

Yo Kelley executes a flying toe jam. Photo by Martin Cote.
Kenny Shults and Chris Eddicott battle. Photo by Mike Grueter.


Basic Rules and Information

Footbag net is played in a singles or doubles format. In singles, two players on opposing sides of the net must return the footbag to the opposite side of the net using their feet in two or fewer kicks. In doubles play, teams of two players on opposing sides of the net have a total of three kicks to return the footbag to the opposite side of the net. In doubles, kicks must be performed in an alternating fashion between teammates. It is not necessary for a team to use all three kicks to return the footbag to the opposite side of the net.

In Footbag net, players must kick the footbag with a part of their body below the knees (i.e., any portion of the foot or shin). Any contact of the footbag to the upper body (i.e., knees and above) results in a foul and loss of the rally. Players must not contact the net or any portion of the supporting structures of the net during play. Players are allowed to reach over the net to kick the footbag, provided that they: do not touch the net, do not touch their opponent on their opponent's side of the net, and do not upper body foul in the process.

Matches are often played in a best-of-three-games format, with each game ending at 15 points, or when one player scores more than 15 points and has two points more than his opponent.

A rally starts with a cross-court serve from one side of the net to the other. Points can only be earned by the serving player or team. "Sideout" is a term used to describe when the non-serving team wins a rally, after which point that team becomes the serving team and achieves the opportunity to score a point.

History

Footbag net was invented in the mid 1970s. It was originally played over an 8-foot high net and players were allowed a maximum of five kicks per side. After only a few years, however, the rules of Footbag net were changed to encourage fast-paced rallying and crowd pleasing spiking maneuvers.


Basic Kicks

The most common surfaces of the shoe used for kicking in Footbag net are the toe, inside, and outside surfaces. The sole of the shoe is also frequently used, however, only when performing a standing or flying spiking maneuver. Due to the large amount of court a player is responsible for covering, it is extremely important to have a good foundation of kicks with both the left and right legs. Outside kicks are generally thought to be the most important kick in net, as they are used to receive serves and to set oneself or one's teammate. Toe kicks are most frequently used when the footbag is falling in front of one's body. Inside kicks are frequently used to receive serve, to bump or set a teammate, or to direct a kick across the net. Inside kicks are also the predominant kick used for serving, however, many players also use toe kicks. Out side kick serves are uncommon but can be effective.

Spikes

A spike is defined as kicking the footbag over the net with a downward trajectory. Spikes can be performed while standing (i.e., one foot remains on the ground while kicking) or while jumping or "flying" (i.e., both feet are in the air while kicking). While they are more difficult to learn, flying spikes are more advantagous to learn because they allow for a greater margin of footbag clearance over the 5-foot-high net.

The names of some typical spikes (and some videos from PT Lovern's and Frankfurt Footbag's galleries) are:

Footbag Net Terminology

Banjo - This is any shot that hits the line. (Plucking the strings like a banjo!)

Dig - when an opponent's spike is kept in play with a kick, sending the footbag with an upward trajectory. Example: "I can't believe you dug that spike!"

Joust - an aerial battle between opponents, each trying to kick the footbag, which takes place on or over the plane of the net. Example: "That was a great joust!"

Match - a set of three games to be played in succession, usually to 11 points during tournament pool play or preliminary play, and to 15 points during semi-final and final tournament play.

Net foul - occurs when any part of a players body or clothing touches the net, during the point or up to 3 seconds after the point ends, and which results in an immediate loss of the point or a side out (depending on the serving side). Example: "I net fouled."

Serve - a kick that starts game play, which must be completed with the planted foot behind the baseline of the court and which causes the footbag to travel over the net cross court. Example: You're serving so well today!"

Set - a kick that typically sends the bag upward between 10 to 15 feet in the air in the direction of the net, with the intention of being spiked with the next contact. Example: "Set me for a toe jam."

Shank - When a footbag is struck and goes in a direction other than the intended direction. Example: "He shanked that shot." (variation; "shankle" - when the bag is deflected off of the players ankle)

Side out - when the non-serving player/team wins a rally, a side out occurs, resulting in a change of service side but not a point. A player/team must be serving to win a point.

Upper body contact - (i.e., an "upper") this foul occurs when any part of the body above the knee touches the footbag, after the footbag has been served, which results in loss of the point or a side out.

Wear - An upper body contact that is the direct result of a spike. Example: "Wear it punk!" (variations; accessorize!, tattoo!)


Footbag Net Competition

Footbag Tournaments occur year-round, though net is not always offered at every event.

Players an experienced organizers alike may want to offer net competition at a footbag event, or host their own tournament. For more information on running a footbag net tournament, see here.

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