What is a Yoyo?
A yoyo or also spelt yo-yo is a popular toy and has been that way for thousands of years. It is made from 2 spherical disks that connect to an axle, there is then a length of string which attaches to the axle with a loop.
What is Yo-Yoing?
Yo-Yoing, I’m not sure if that’s even a real word, is the art of releasing the yo-yo’s from about chest height and repeatedly reeling it in, catching the spool and then releasing again.
That description probably makes the whole thing sound rather plain, but add tricks and competition into the mix and you’ve got yourself a great hobby.
History of Yo-Yoing
Yo-Yoing has been going on for more time then you may imagine, it can be dated back to around 400BC.
There is a Greek Vase from the Antikensammlung Berlin collection which clearly shows an image of a young boy playing with a Yo-Yo, this is dated to 440BC.
It’s also believed that the spool/disc part of a Yo-Yo was also at times made from terracotta and was a toy offering to the gods when children reached a certain age.
The YoYo as we know it today was re-born in 1928 when a gentleman called Pedro Flores opened a manufacturing business in Santa Barbara. Pedro was an immigrant from the Fillipines and lived in the United States of America.
Due to the massive demand and popularity, within just one year Pedro had to open 2 more factories in LA and Hollywood.
Approximately 300,000 Yo-Yo units were being manufactured and distributed per day.
The success continued (read more about the history)
Where do I start?
The only way to get involved with Yo-Yoing is to head off and get yourself a yoyo! There’s little you can learn about this hobby from reading.
The only way you’re going to be a pro is practical practice, it’s a skill you will develop and just like any other skill the best way to learn is to practice as much as possible.
With that being said I can teach you what the best equipment is, some beginner tricks and techniques and how to get the basics down, read on!
What YoYo’s are best for beginners?
Before we recommend a good Yo-Yo for you let us take a closer look at one and break down what components it is made from, what materials can be used and how they all come together.
Yo-Yo’s can come in different shapes and sizes but there are generally 3 different shapes they are made in.
The classic shape is the yo-yo you have probably seen on the shelf in stores or on TV at some point, it’s exactly how you would picture a yo-yo. The shape that started the Yo-Yoing trend.
Modified Yo-Yo shapes can also be known as ‘flywheel’ or ‘modern’
They have become increasingly popular over the last 15 years, with hobbyists combing shape elements and streamlining the original designs to maximise performance.
The modified Yo-Yo’s can increase spin times and perform better for loop tricks.
Inside it has rounded smoother walls creating a larger gap and is generally smaller than the wing shape we talk about below.
A wing shape Yo-Yo is another popular style of Yo-Yo and you may well have also seen this shape before.
It has a larger space between the discs allowing the YoYo to be caught on the string much easier.
Wing-shaped are also known as a flared gap or butterfly Yo-Yo and you will often find that the higher end yo-yos are created in this shape and are probably the most popular type.
I believe the popularity of this shape is because of the tricks you can do with them.
Ok so the next component is the axle of a Yo-Yo, sit down grab a drink because there’s a lot to learn about yo-yo axles.
To put it simply the axle is the component of a yo-yo which holds it all together, this is also what the string is attached to.
The axle component of a yo-yo has a large impact on how it will perform.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of yo-yo axles available.
A standard fixed type of axle is commonly seen on the basic classic yo-yo, the axle is part of the structure and does not move independently.
Highly increasing performance of loop tricks, this type of axle has a ball bearing between the inner and outer parts of the axle. The ball bearing also increases the responsiveness of the yoyo.
Also known as the brain, Yomega were the first to make the Clutch Axle popular with their Yomega Brain Model.
Clutch Axles uses a force known as centrifugal, to wake the Yo-Yo up and in effect automatically return back up to your hand.
As the Yo-Yo spins the centrifugal force forces the clutch open, and as it slows down it starts to close. This makes the Yo-Yo return.
Yo-Yo’s with this centrifugal clutch technology are a great choice for beginners. They simplify the amount of skill needed and assist you in performing tricks. Once you have mastered this type of Yo-Yo it is advised to move on to another type so you are not reliant on the clutch.
Transaxle YoYo’s have a fixed axle that sits in a sleeve, this also turns freely.
The sleeve in effect allows the yoyo to spin longer because it dramatically reduces any friction when the yoyo spins.
Commonly the sleeves are made up from metal or plastic.
Non-Responsive Ball Bearing
Quite possibly the latest trend, non-responsive ball bearing yo-yo’s do not “wake up” when you perform the sleeper trick and pull the string to return.
To make this kind of axle and yoyo return there is another trick you will have to learn that is called a bind. This effectively brings the string together in a bunch while it is spinning, and forces the yoyo and string to catch returning the Yo-Yo to your hand.
It may sound like the worst kind of Yo-Yo but it actually opens the door to a whole new world of tricks that can’t be performed on any other kind of yoyo.
It’s another great type of Yo-Yo for beginners and although it’s hard to master the “bind” once you have you’ll be on to all kinds of awesome stuff.
The fun thing about Yo-Yo’s in 2018 is that you are not limited to one kind and because of the range available now the tricks you can perform are endless!
Yo-Yo’s are manufactured using 3 different types of materials, they all have an impact on how the Yo-Yos perform. These are 3 basic materials:
The very first yoyos were crafted from wood and still to this day are manufactured using wood.
Plastic is the most used material when manufacturing yoyos and the majority are made this way.
They are often made from a very durable and hardened plastic and are made in many different designs and colors.
Yoyos that are created from metal often out perform other materials but are more expensive to buy.
Aliminium is usually the metal of choice because it is lighter than most other metals.
They are also normally heavier giving them a longer spin time.
It is good practice to replace the string on your yoyo often, you will find that if you let it wear too much the string will eventually snap.
A good choice for yoyo string is to choose a blended string that is made from two materials, polyester and cotton.
Recommended Beginners Yoyo
We could list numerous Yo-Yo’s for beginners but I don’t want to overwhelm you with choices, I will just recommend the one I started with and one that has a great reputation with people just starting out.
Henry’s Lizard Yo-Yo
Henrys Lizard YoYo’s are a great beginners yoyo this is largely down to the fantastic performance.
It’s manufactured in the “butterfly” shape which we discussed earlier in this beginners guide and has a slider bearing response system.
Not only that but you get a free book of tricks and cool flamed travel bag!
- Dimensions: 62mm x 32mm
- Weight: 68g
How to YoYo?
So your Yo-Yo has arrived and now you want to know how to use it.
To begin with we need to master the basic movement of throwing the yo-yo down, bringing it back up and catching it in your hand.
Before you even think about learning tricks you will need to have the basic part mastered, it’s not as simple as it sounds, but it sets the basis for lots of other tricks on the yo-yo.
The Basic Yo-Yo Throw Down
So here’s a short video and a written step by step.
Place the yo-yo on its edge in the palm of your hand, it wants to be placed in the centre of your thumb and your middle finger.
Your arm wants to be extended outwards just below shoulder height and make sure you have the string over your middle finger. The string should also be over the top of the yo-yo.
Bring the yo-yo up in your hand and arm like you’re about to flex your biceps and then flick your wrist and arm downwards to throw the yo-yo straight down, try your hardest not to let it go to the side.
As the yo-yo gets to the end of its length of string you need be ready to make it return.
When it’s at the bottom slightly tug upwards and the yo-yo should climb the string and return back to your hand.
Beginners YoYo tricks
Once you have mastered the art of throwing down the Yo-Yo and returning it to your hand, you are then ready to learn your first tricks!
In this beginners guide to yo-yo’s, we are only going to discuss the most common and most basic, all of these tricks will also give you the core skills and techniques to advance to more difficult ones.
Never the less they are all pretty impressive!
How to do the sleeper on a yo-yo.
There’s a video above if you prefer to watch and learn, in effect the sleeper trick is about “putting the Yo-Yo to sleep” this is achieved by throwing the yo-yo down and making it spin for a length of time as it hits the bottom of the string, opposed to it returning.
I’m presuming you have the basics locked down as I’ve explained above and can perform the basic throw down and return. So now throw the Yo-Yo down as in the basic method.
This time though you don’t want it to return so as the yo-yo gets to the end of its string you need to, at the right time, pull your hand and cushion the landing (like a tiny flick)
The Yo-Yo should now be spinning at the bottom of the string in what they call “the sleeper”
After watching in amazement at the success of your first proper trick, to return the yo-yo, tug up. It should now climb the string and return to your hand!
Note: Ensure your YoYo string is neutral and not too tight as this could stop you from performing the sleeper trick. A good way to do this is to unravel the string until the end and re-spool it but ensuring it’s not to tight around the axle.
How to do the forward pass on a yo-yo.
Take the Yo-Yo in your hand like you learnt when doing the “Throw down” this time though you aren’t going to hold it at the front of your body you will be holding to your side, switch it so that the back of your hand is facing forwards.
Now you will be throwing the Yo-Yo directly in front of you, you achieve this by flicking your wrist and swinging your arm in a forward motion.
Again as in the “Throw Down”, once the yo-yo gets to the end of the string, you will be giving it a little tug. You will also need to flip your hand over, palm up and catch the Yo-Yo.
Note: This can be quite difficult to master so don’t be disheartened if you don’t grasp it the first few times, as long as it hits your hand after the tug you are on the right track. Keep practising and you will soon be catching the Yo-Yo!
How to do around the world on a yo-yo.
For this trick to work, you will need to have mastered the “sleeper” and “forward pass” tricks. So if you haven’t I’m afraid you will have to go back and keep practising.
Firstly you need to get yourself ready to do the “forward pass” yo-yo trick. Throw out the forward pass but don’t tug as it gets to the end of the string.
Where you would usually tug as it gets to the end, you should swing in a 360 degrees arc shape, over your shoulder and behind your back. For the whole trick the yo-yo needs to stay and the end of the string spinning in the sleeper while it travels around.
As the Yo-Yo returns home, in front of you, tug at the string and bring the yo-yo back to your hand.
Note: Safety is paramount with this trick, ensure you have a lot of space around and above you and that nobody is stood too close.
How to do walk the dog on a yo-yo.
For this awesome “walk the dog trick” you should begin the trick by performing the sleeper trick but this time throw it down hard so it’s a much faster and longer sleeper.
Move the yo-yo forward while letting it sit gently on the floor. Allow the “sleeper” spinning motion to drive your Yo-Yo forward pulling it along the ground.
As the Yo-Yo comes to the end of it’s spinning motion, slightly pull back and the Yo-Yo should return straight to your hand.
Note: The Yo-Yo may snap back while in step 2, but do not worry just keep practising you will get it soon enough. Also be aware of the surface you are “walking the dog” on as some will damage your Yo-Yo.
How to do rock the baby on a yo-yo.
Hopefully, by now you can throw down a mean sleeper and it spins….well forever! So throw it down, as it sleeps lift up the yo-yo hand until it’s just above your head.
With your other hand, the one that is not holding the Yo-Yo put it out in front of the string. With your fingers apart and your palm facing your body. In between the YoYo string and your body. With your little finger, about a third of the way down the string catch it with the top of your thumb and little finger.
With the hand that is holding the Yo-Yo grab the string, a good few inches above the Yo-Yo
Bring your Yo-Yo hand slightly above your free hand creating hopefully at this point the triangle shape. This is known as the cradle. If by now you are lost you should really press play on the video above as this trick is much easier to learn while watching, opposed to reading.
If you have done this correctly the Yo-Yo will be able to fit nice and snug in the middle of the “cradle” of string that you’ve created.
Rock the yo-yo or “baby” back and forth between the cradle.
Tug the Yo-Yo while letting go of the yo-yo string and it should snap back to your hand.
Note: This is probably the most advanced trick I will mention on this beginners yo-yo tricks guide, it will take some practice and hard work! Keep going persistence is the key!
Useful YoYo Resources & Links
YoYo Tricks – A comprehensive how-to guide for hundreds of YoYo Tricks.
YoYo Expert – More elaborate and advanced Yo-Yo tricks, Videos and Store.
40+ Epic Yo-Yo Tricks Book – Each trick comes with clear step by step instructions and easy to follow illustrations.