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Freestyle football

Freestyle football
1 john farnworth.jpg
John Farnworth performing a freestyle trick in Singapore in 2011, where he broke two records.
Highest governing bodyWorld Freestyle Football Association
TypeBall sport

Freestyle football, also known as freestyle soccer in North America, is the art of self-expression with a football while performing various tricks with parts of the body. Similar in style to keepie uppie, kemari and the ball discipline of rhythmic gymnastics, it has become a widespread sport across the world and is practiced by many people. The official governing body for this sport is known as World Freestyle Football Association (W.F.F.A)[1][2][3].


Freestyle football involves competitors performances, either three 30-second performances or a single minute-long performance depending on the stage of the competition and the competition's structure. Judges evaluate competitors on six criteria: difficulty, originality, all-around skills, trick execution, mistakes, and variety. Players are not allowed to touch the ball with the hands or arms and such touches are considered mistakes by the judges.[4]

Increase in popularity

Freestyle football has existed since the early 1900s,[5] but it has seen a surge in popularity as a result of global advertising campaigns and digital media sharing. In the early 21st century, Nike began an advertising campaign which relied heavily on the freestyle form of football, including video clips of freestyle performances. The videos are called Joga Bonito which means "Play Beautiful." These advertisements featured famous players such as Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edgar Davids. Many link such mass media attention to the start of the freestyle craze. In the YouTube era, however, many previously non-famous players have risen to prominence, and internet searches easily yield thousands of videos by amateur "freestylers" around the world.[6]

Some of the more notable freestylers include: Hee Young Woo (Mr. Woo) of South Korea, Séan Garnier (France), Pawel Skóra (Polish), Michal Rycaj (Polish), D-Eleven (Brazil), Azun (Norwegian), Palle (Swedish), Reynoldz (Irish), Beto (Mexico), Andrew Henderson (UK), Akim Kovalev (Russia), Ricardinho (Brazil), PWG (Philippines), Tokura (Japan), Jawad Blunt (Pakistan), the 5 time Guinness World Record Holder Victor Rubilar and John Farnworth, who appeared inin Britain's Got Talent in 2009. Also in the same year of Britain's Got Talent (series 3) Uefa Training Grounds skill experts Woody & Kleiny were the first freestyle double act to ever hit the programmed screens and the duo were branded by Simon Cowell as the Anty & Decky of football juggling. Men are not the only ones capable of taking part in the sport. Womefreestylersrs are very skilled and hold titles. Kitti Szasz is a 4-time freestyle World Champi onMelody Donchet[7] won the 2014 Street Style World Championship and Indi Cowie is a highly competitive freestyle and a football coachch.

Freestyle has also become very popular in South America, with countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Chile forming freestyle crews of dozens or even hundreds of freestylers, some of the most important Latin Freestylers are Charly Iacono who got to the Semifinals of Talento Argentino, an Argentinian talent show, and Cristian "Rocky" Mayorga who came third in the South Africa 2010 Red Bull Street Style world finals.

Freestyle pioneers

Several freestylers have influenced the varying styles within freestyle football including Rickard "Palle" Sjolander, nicknamed the "godfather of air moves". Palle invented many lower body tricks which are now used by several freestylers. Palle's progression of lower body freestyle was enhanced by Pawel Skóra from Poland. Since 2010, the progression within lower body freestyle has been led by a group of around 10 "limit pushers", including Pawel Skóra, MP, Hasip, Ars, Mirko, Gunther, Akim, LKR, Ethan, Memo and more.

Women have also entered into freestyle and notable pioneers in women's freestyle include Indi Cowie[8] and Lucia Kevická[9]

The movie In the Hands of the Gods promotes football freestylers. The film followed five lads (Mikey Fisher, Paul Wood, Sami Hall, Danny Robinson, and Jeremy Lynch) on a journey of a lifetime in search of arguably the best football player of all time Diego Maradona. The film became the largest release of a documentary ever in the UK, fourth biggest in the world when it came to screens on its opening weekend, was on show at the Cannes film festival and had a red carpet Leicester Square premier which was green AstroTurf for the boys.[10]

Freestyle competitions

Freestyle footballers freestyling at the Red Bull Arena, Salzburg, Austria

Shortly after the Joga Bonito advertising campaign, Nike launched "Nike Football", a freestyle football competition on the internet in which participants could submit their own clips and receive feedback from a worldwide audience.

In December 2006, the "Masters of The Game" competition was held in Amsterdam and was won by Hassan Muxudin Ali. Nutmeg or Panna and other street football competitions have been held featuring street football players such as Edward Van Gils, Ismael Hamdaoui, and Jermaine Vanenburg.

In 2007 there was a competition in Latin America called Red Bull Reaction.

Also in 2007 Redbull futbol de calle was held in NYC's Webster Hall.

The French Arnaud "Séan" Garnier is the first world champion of Red Bull Street Style Soccer. The final of the Red Bull Street Style competition was held in Brazil In November 2008. Arnaud Garnier "Séan" beat out the other 42 competitors to win the competition.

The 2010 Red Bull street style was held in Cape Town South Africa April 24–28. The winner was Anders "Azun" Solum from Norway, who beat Kamalio Ranchod from South Africa in the final. The latest one was held in Italy where Kotaro Tokuda from Japan came first, and Daniel Dennehy from Ireland finished second.

List of international competitions and winners

FF World Tour

Year Events General 1st Place General 2nd Place General 3rd Place Canada Calgary Winner Australia Melbourne Winner
2016 2 United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj Calgary Winner United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj
Year Events General 1st Place General 2nd Place General 3rd Place United Kingdom London Winner China Beijing Winner
2014 2 Argentina Charly Iacono Colombia Boyka United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Colombia Boyka United Kingdom Andrew Henderson
Year Events General 1st Place General 2nd Place General 3rd Place United Kingdom London Winner United Arab Emirates Dubai Winner
2013 2 Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj Poland Lukasz Luki Chwieduk Norway Tobias Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj
Year Events General 1st Place General 2nd Place General 3rd Place Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Winner
2011 1 United Kingdom Andrew Henderson France Gautier Poland Michryc United Kingdom Andrew Henderson

Superball - World Open Championships

Year Location Battle 1st Place Battle 2nd Place Battle 3rd Place Routine Winner Sick3 Winner Challenge Winner
2018 Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic Norway Erlend Colombia Boyka Japan Yo Belarus KVP Norway Krog Poland Kondzio
2017 Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic Brazil Ricardinho Brazil Pedrinho Norway Erlend France Gautier Brazil Ricardinho Russia Timur Alekseev
2016 Czech Republic Liberec, Czech Republic Norway Erlend Norway Tobias Sweden Emil Källdoff France Gautier Russia Pavlinoff Italy Luca Chiarvesio
2015 Czech Republic Liberec, Czech Republic Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj Norway Erlend Brazil Ricardinho France Gautier Mexico M3mo Norway Tobias
2014 Czech Republic Liberec, Czech Republic Brazil Pedrinho Norway Tobias Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj France Gautier Russia Pavlinoff Mexico M3mo
2013 Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Mexico Esteban Poland Lukasz Luki Chwieduk France Gautier Hungary Rocco Russia McPro
2012 Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Poland Michal Michryc Rycaj Italy Gunther France Gautier
2011 Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic Poland Szymon Szymo Skalski Poland Pawel Skóra United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Poland Krzysztof Golonka Clyde

Red Bull Street Style

Year Location 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
2018 Poland Warsaw, Poland Norway Erlend Fagerli Brazil Ricardinho Norway Brynjar Fagerli
2016 United Kingdom London, United Kingdom Argentina Charly Iacono Japan Kosuke Takahashi Russia McPro
2014 Brazil Salvador, Brazil United Kingdom Andrew Henderson Argentina Charly Iacono Norway Erlend Fagerli
2013 Japan Tokyo, Japan PolandSzymon Szymo Skalski Argentina Charly Iacono United Kingdom Andrew Henderson
2012 Italy Lecce, Italy Japan Tokura Republic of Ireland Daniel Dennehy Italy Gunther
2010 South Africa Cape Town, South Africa Norway Azun South Africa Kamalio Colombia Rocky
2008 Brazil São Paulo, Brazil France Sean Japan Yosuke Brazil Murilo Pitol

F3 Asian Championships

Year Host 1st place 2nd place 3rd place Ref.
2013 Vietnam Hanoi, Vietnam Vietnam Đỗ Kim Phúc Vietnam Đoàn Thanh Tùng Mexico Miguel Angel Casanueva Hurtado [11]
2014 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Philippines Philip Warren Gertsson Iran Mohammad Akbari Mexico Maximiliano Martinez Osuna [12]
2015 Indonesia Jakarta, Indonesia Japan Kosuke Takahashi Philippines Philip Warren Gertsson Japan Yuuki Yoshinaga [13]
2016 Philippines Davao City, Philippines Philippines Philip Warren Gertsson Japan Yo Kamatsuka Indonesia Ardhi Andyadi [14]

F3 European Championships

Year Manchester, United Kingdom 1st place Brynjar 2nd place Erlend 3rd place Tobias


2016 Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark Norway Erlend Norway Tobias Norway Brynjar Denmark Anders Borg
2015 Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands Norway Tobias Netherlands Maarten PolandDaniel Mikolaj Mikolajek
2014 Belgium Brussels, Belgium PolandDaniel Mikolaj Mikolajek PolandMichal Michryc Rycaj Italy Gunther
2013 Hungary Budapest, Hungary PeruCristhian Casilla Escobar PolandDaniel Mikolaj Mikolajek Serbia Djota

SISM - American Panna & Freestyle Tournament

Year Location 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
2016 United States San Jose, CA, United States Argentina Rodrigo Caballero United States "Borgetti" Adalberto Lopez Colombia "Tacho" Jhon Maldonado
2015 United States San Jose, CA, United States Mexico Marvin Rodriguez Mexico "Gio" Jovanny Gonzalez PeruCristhian Casilla Escobar
2014 United States San Jose, CA, United States Mexico "Gio" Jovanny Gonzalez United Arab EmiratesFahad Al Braiki United States Jereminho

Freestyle tricks

Freestyle football is divided into different disciplines/styles:[15]

  • Lower body/air moves - This is the most popular with the new generation of freestylers. The ball is kept aloft using mainly the feet and legs. This style is considered to be the most difficult and the one that gives a multitude of opportunities to come up with new moves and impressive combinations.
  • Upper body - This style is very popular in Japan and Russia. Most tricks are done with the head, chest, and shoulders.
  • Sitting/sit down - This style has become well known. All tricks are executed while sitting on the floor with your legs in the air, and the inability to move after the ball greatly increases the difficulty of any trick performed.
  • Ground moves - These are normal football moves, but then executed without an opponent. Skillful players can make the performance of ground moves seem like a choreographed dance.
  • Special - This style has been introduced recently and refers to the acrobatic or break dance moves performed with a football that is becoming more popular in the freestyle football world.

Within the above disciplines, the following individual moves are among the most popular:

  • Around the world (ATW) is also popular; in this move, the player plays the ball off of one foot, and that foot then circles up and over the ball before returning underneath to play the ball again. It is subdivided into Inside and Outside depending on the direction in which you make the turn.
  • Crossover is one of the basic tricks. This move requires the player to kick the ball into the air by his trail leg, while the other leg goes around the ball.
  • Toe bounce (TB): Similar to crossover but without making the leap, letting the ball bounce in the foot.
  • Hop the world (HTW) is a famous move performed by pro footballers and freestylers all around the world. Kick the ball up with one foot, and circle the other around the ball.
  • Touzani around the world (TATW) is a favorite of most, It is a variation of an outside ATW and a crossover. Created by Soufiane Touzani from the Netherlands
  • Mitchy around the world (MATW) is also a favorite. The same as TATW except with an inside ATW. Created by Mitchell James Penn from the UK
  • Alternative Mitchy around the world (AMATW) is a variation of an inside HTW and a crossover.
  • Lemmens around the world (LATW) is a double ATW (you circle your foot twice around the ball in the air without a middle touch between the two revolutions).
  • Palle around the world (PATW) is a triple ATW (you circle your foot three times around the ball in the air without a middle touch between the three revolutions). Created by Rickard Palle of Sweden
  • Stall moves involve catching the ball in a stationary position. Many freestylers are able to catch the ball on their foreheads, the backs of their necks, or wedged between their heel and the back of their thigh.
  • Combos are where one trick is connected to another without juggling the ball.
  • No touch combos are two tricks performed in one motion. For example, crossover ATW no touch (NT) would be at an ATW and never touching the ball with the feet you have to perform the crossover. Crossover ATW NT looks similar to a Touzani around the world (TATW)

Combos were introduced in early 2000-2002 and are popular in freestyle football.

Nowadays, the number of new freestylers is constantly increasing so is the number of new moves. Connecting freestyle football with break dance moves has become more popular recently and has given the name to the new style mentioned above - Special. It adds up to creativity in this sport and keeps it developing. This style of performing may be easily noticed in Japan but not solely there.


  1. ^ David Goldblatt; Johnny Acton; Mike Garland. "The Football Book". p. 29. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  2. ^ David Goldblatt; Johnny Acton; Mike Garland. "The Football Book". p. 29. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  3. ^ "Freestyle football in Russia". 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
  4. ^ "2016 Official Rules of Freestyle Football Competitions". Freestyle Football Federation. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  5. ^ "The History of Freestyle Football" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  6. ^ "Brits lead freestyle revolution". BBC. 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2010-05-31.
  7. ^ "Meet Your Latest Crush Melody Donchet, The Girl Who Can Handle Balls Better Than You". Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  8. ^ Castillo, Michelle (2017-06-11). "Athletes are turning obscure skills into big-money endorsements, thanks to social media". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  9. ^ s, SPORT SK, s r o & Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia a. "Freestyle futbalistka Lucia Kevická medzi svetovou elitou". Š Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  10. ^ "CaughtOffside Exclusive Part 1: In The Hands Of The Gods Preview". CaughtOffside. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Do Kim Phuc wins Asian Freestyle Football Champs". VietnamPlus. Vietnam News Agency. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  12. ^ Hidayat, Rizki (15 November 2015). "Philip Warren Pesimistis Pertahankan Titel Juara di AFFC 2015" [Philip Warren to defend title in 2015 AFFC]. Bola (in Indonesian). Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  13. ^ "AFFC 2015". Asian Freestyle Football Federation. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Filipino-Norwegian wins Asian Freestyle Football title". MindaNews. Mindanao News and Information Center Service Cooperative. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  15. ^ David Goldblatt; Johnny Acton; Mike Garland. "The Football Book". p. 29. Retrieved 2016-06-04.