Hacky sacks or footbags are small stuffed bags which are designed to be used in a game known as hacky sack. The bags are around the size of a fist, and they are typically stuffed with beans, plastic granules, or other hard fillings so that they have some weight and loft. Sports stores sometimes sell footbags, and they can also be purchased from traditional craftspeople in various regions of the world, or from toy and hobby stores.
In the game of hacky sack, players kick the bag back and forth to each other without allowing it to touch the ground. Typically, the players engage in a series of complex tricks which are designed to showcase their dexterity and skill with the hacky sack, and players may challenge each other to specific moves. Any number of people can participate, with small games of three to five players being especially popular, since the players can form a small, loose circle with enough room to play around without having to kick the bag across a great distance.
The origins of this game appear to lie in Asia, judging from discussions of similar games in written accounts of life in Asia, along with depictions of hacky sacks in Asian art. However, many other cultures have developed similar games; the concept of kicking a small padded object around in a group of casual players can also be seen in parts of Africa and South America. Some cultures have developed their own unique versions of the game, complete with complex rules, and travelers sometimes enjoy learning new rules and styles.
Hacky sacks became popularized in the 1970s, when they were introduced as part of the originally trademarked game of Hacky Sack, an adaptation of traditional footbag games which was marketed by Mike Marshall and John Stahlberger. The inventors failed to aggressively protect their trademark, and as a result it became diluted, leading people to refer generically to all footbags as hacky sacks, regardless of their origins.
Players often enjoy hacky sacking, as it is sometimes called, because the game has no set rules, and players can invent their own take on it. The supplies are cheap, since hacky sacks often sell for only a few dollars, making the game accessible to people in all economic classes. People can also make their own hacky sacks by sewing, knitting, or crocheting various materials together, and hacky sacks may be painted, embroidered, or beaded with decorative accents.