Home > What is footbag? > How is it different than hacky sack?


Brand analogies
The primary confusion between the terms footbag and hacky sack is the preponderance of the latter since the 1970s due to the widespread marketing success of the Hacky Sack brand owned by Wham-O Inc. Like many other prominent household name brands, sport-related and otherwise (such as Frisbee, Ping-Pong, and Kleenex), Hacky Sack came to be colloquially recognized, albeit incorrectly, as the name of the sport.
Official Hacky Sack logo
Official Hacky Sack logo, by Wham-O.

Perception and connotations
Unfortunately, the term “Hacky Sack” itself has come to be negatively associated with the hippie and cannibis cultures of the 1970s from which it was borne and proliferated. Meanwhile the name of the sport, footbag, despite the little-understood training and skill necessary to perform even the most basic of freestyle movements, has fallen from public awareness; this has resulted in the majority of people having never heard the term or understanding the complexity of the sport, further reinforcing the aforementioned stereotypes.

Organization, events, the IFPA, and community
While "hacky sack" has become synonymous with the casual kicking of a footbag, the sport is far more technical, comparable to gymnastics or figure skating, wherein very nuanced movements are only entirely perceptible to experienced practitioners themselves. Freestyle footbag is also highly organized, with events sponsored and overseen by the non-profit corporation, the International Footbag Players' Association (IFPA), including the World Footbag Championships, which is held annually in various countries around the world.
Official International Footbag Players' Association logo
Official International Footbag Players' Association logo, by the IFPA.

Additionally, one of the most oft-cited benefits of the sport is the tight-knit community of individuals who share a passion that has occupied thousands of hours of their lives. Players form close bonds that extend across national borders, and while many compete at tournaments, the nature of footbag itself is largely non-competitive and bereft of significant funding, meaning that new players and world champions alike celebrate together in their love of the sport, sightseeing and hanging out as friends at major events. Freestyle footbag promotes an inherent climate of social equality.