Where did Hacky Sack Originate?


Where does Hacky Sack come from? Hacky Sack originates from Oregon in 1972. A man named Mike Marshall invited his friend John Stalberger, who was visiting from Texas at the time, to play a game with him. They would kick a bean bag and would try to keep it off the ground for as long as they could. Eventually you would pass it to the other person. They could use any part of their body, except for their hands and arms. This was very similar to soccer players would juggle their soccer balls on their knees.

John Stalberger later endured a knee injury. He would play this game to help rehabilitate his knee and coined the saying, “hack a sack” to describe this activity. Later, Stalberger and Marshall decided to take this game into the business world, and in 1972 they made their first version of a hacky sack. The first bag version was square shaped, and a year later they made a disc shaped one out of leather.

The very first time the actual name, “Hacky Sack,” was used was in 1974. After Marshall passed away in 1975,  Stalberger continued to develop more bags and promoted it as a game more than just an item.

In 1979 a patent was issued for the Hacky Sack branded footbag.

This game caught wind especially with high school and college aged students during festivals and concerts- Most famously, The Grateful Dead concerts and festivals. Sometimes Hacky Sack gets bad rep because it’s usually associated with stoners or “hippies,” but despite these opinions, the game hacky sack has branched out and turned into a worldwide sport. There are multiple organizations that hold footbag competitions. Everything from freestyle to team, this game has become more than just a pass time for high school kids.


Ancient Jianzi

Despite the actual term “Hacky Sack” being patented in the 1970’s by Americans, hacky sack is widely known to originate from the ancient Chinese game, Jianzi. (sometimes known as Ti Jianzi)

Historians have identified this game that was played all around Asia that dates back as far as 2597 BC.

The difference is Jianzi uses a long feather with weights on the bottom. Just like badminton, these are called shuttlecocks, and were used instead of a bean bag or pouch, like hacky sacks.


Jianzi was and still is played by all ages.  By 618-907 AD Jianzi shops sprung up all around China. Just like hacky sack, Jianzi is played by keeping the shuttlecock from hitting the ground without using your hands. And many different game variations exist.




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