Sean D’Arcy is an experienced freestyler who regularly performs in half-time shows during football matches. He was also an official entertainer at the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia. Check out his web site footballtricks.com to see what he’s up to.
How did you get into juggling / freestyle?
My first real exposure to juggling / freestyling was during the World Cup in Argentina in 1978. I was in England but on the telly they showed this group of schoolboys doing tricks with a ball to entertain the crowds. It just blew me away. I had never seen anyone do what they were doing with a football. I cannot even remember the tricks they did because I only saw it once but that inspired me to learn how to juggle/freestyle. I have often thought it would be great to see that footage again to see how good they were.
In terms of style, how are you different compared to other freestylers?
Style. I think that is up to others to say whether you have any style but I do like to move the ball around my body a bit more than others. I mean I see plenty of freestylers today do trick combos were all tricks are done with their feet. I try to move the ball up and down as well as from side to side.
When training, do you do any type of fitness such as flexibility exercises?
I was born with a hip deformity which led to me having to give up playing football at 20 and has also restricted my movement quite considerably on my left side. I have to keep my training to a minimum otherwise I suffer plenty of joint pain. I believe flexibility exercises would be beneficial to most freestylers but for me they have only led to more joint pain so I don’t tend to do any.
You say that juggling and learning tricks is helpful for competitive soccer players. What specifically should they work on that could improve their game?
My main advice would be to learn all tricks with both feet as the improvement in your coordination will have benefits throughout all aspects of your game. I would not say anyone should work on any specific set of tricks but learn as many tricks as you can and learn them on both sides.
What’s a good starting point for anyone interested in learning freestyle?
My philosophy is that anyone will keep practicing if they see some success so I always start by teaching different ways to flick the ball up. This way someone who hasn’t got the best control can still learn a trick. If someone has good control then the two tricks I am asked for the most is catching the ball on the back of your neck and Around the World and they seem as good a starting point as any. Obviously buying one of my DVDs that teach you tricks is a best starting point for someone who is really serious.
You’ve been juggling a football for a long time, have you noticed distinct stages in your development?
Definitely. There have been lots of different stages in my development but the most important for me was when I changed my way of thinking. When I used to see or think up a new trick I used to say to myself I wonder if I’ll be able to do it and now I say how long is it going to take before I do it. It seems like it was only a small stage but it was the most significant for me because I stopped limiting myself.
Which freestyler do you admire and why?
I noticed you have already spoken to him but it would have to be Abbas. He seems to be totally relaxed and effortless in their movements and the ball always looks like it is under complete control (which it is). I had the pleasure of meeting Abbas when I was performing at the Millennium stadium last year and he is terrific guy as well as having heaps of talent. Other than that my favourite is Rathinho who, similar to Abbas, just looks very graceful and appears to be completely relaxed while he is pulling off really complex moves.