Published on December 24th, 2021 |
by Daniel Boyle
2021 Footbag Joulukalenteri – Jim Penske Interview
Jim Penske has been running the Link of the Day in this year’s Joulukalenteri. He has shown why he is one of the top players in the world.
I asked Jim a few questions about his footbag career.
Hi Jim, you’ve been doing the Link of the Day this year – how do you feel about the tricks you’ve put into the calendar?
After Dominic Simku’s links last year I wanted to keep the difficulty level high. I hope the tradition will carry on as I think we need to keep pushing the envelope of difficulty to see what’s possible and advance the sport of freestyle. Even though it may be hard to follow along I hope these combos inspire someone to hit a link they never would attempt otherwise.
What do you think has been your greatest achievement in footbag?
Three moments stick out to me: Becoming a world champion in 2017, 2nd in routines in 2007, 3 peat at US Open championships
When you were first starting out, what attracted you to footbag and trying to get better?
Went to a tournament in my hometown and saw a pro player (Steve Howland) Him and Bob Green inspired me to start training daily. From then on I studied videos and learned every trick I could. I had played basketball and wrestled in middle school. It wasn’t until I found footbag freestyle that I felt I was meant to be in the sport
Like most of us, you haven’t made it to Worlds each year – do you wish you could have gone to more?
Yes and no, obviously tournaments are a blast and I would have liked to make it to every worlds. But I did make it to as many tournaments as possible. My dream of winning a gold at worlds was finally realized in 2017. After that, I felt I had accomplished or exceeded all of my competition goals. Also I’m not done, I believe I’ll make it to another worlds
What’s a trick that you are close to but still haven’t hit yet?
A few different five-dex moves
What’s your training routine like?
I try to stick to 3-4 sessions per week. About 2 hours per session. Training techniques change depending on my current goals
You’ve had Lon living and kicking with you in recent years – how has that helped your game?
Lon has helped me diversify my trick selection. He’s encouraged me to be more both sided and to play often. He’s always promoting weekly sessions with the whole Boise crew. He’s a major influence for all of us to keep playing at a high level. He’s really inspiring definitely the best player in the world for his age.
What’s the hardest trick you’ve ever hit?
There’s a few that come to mind but blurry high plains drifter and alpine blurroque are two hard ones
You’ve been playing a long time now, what are your thoughts on how footbag has evolved as a sport over that time?
It seems like we had a magical era of growth in the sport from around 2002-2010. In that time there were a lot of incredible athletes pushing the limits of what’s possible. That’s what I enjoyed seeing is how hard we can make the tricks or the level of play. I think we may have a hit a difficulty ceiling around 2010 and now the sport seems to be evolving in different directions with more unique tricks being invented. There’s so much room for new inventions. Although I tend to stay the course of pushing adds and general hard links and combos this gives me the most satisfaction and the best work out.
What are your current goals with footbag?
Simply to play at the highest level for as long as I’m capable. I don’t want to retire with any regrets thinking I could’ve pushed harder while I was in the prime
We all have our weaknesses – what’s a reasonably easy trick that you struggle with?
Never been very good at eclipse or double spinning
What advice to you have for players who are wanting to improve their game?
Get to a guiltless level first then study the greats like Vasek and Clavens. See if you can hit their combos. Also try to break as many world records as you can.
If you had a “magic lamp” and had three wishes to help footbag – what would you ask for?
For all players to be able to travel and stay at hotels for free. Big sponsors that paid for the best athletes to do demos and shows alongside other alternative sports. Much bigger prize money at worlds
Aside from footbag, what else do you like to do?
I enjoy hunting and fishing. Riding motorcycles street and dirt. Playing other sports like basketball, disc golf. Spending time with family and friends
Do you see yourself kicking into your old age? Is there anything that would make you stop?
Lon is a great motivator for me with him being 7 years older and playing at such an incredible level I have no choice but to try to keep up with him. The only thing that would keep me from playing would be an injury
What do you enjoy the most about footbag?
The total body workout you get after a hard session. The camaraderie between fellow players. The long lasting friendships I’ve made. The way it keeps me physically and mentally healthy.