How To Play Yoyo?

Yoyo is a quite distinctive kind of game and known to a selected few. Seen someone play and you’ve developed an interest in learning? You heard about it and you want to try it out? Well, you have to grasp the concept of the game before you can effectively learn to play the game. A yo-yo (commonly spelt as Yoyo consists of an axle which is effectively attached to two disc and a string looped around an axle.

Interestingly, the yoyo can be likened to a spool in a slender form. The etymology of the word yoyo should also be outlined for all-around knowledge about this peculiar toy. The word yoyo has two different origins which are the Ilocano term yoyo or a cognate word from the Philippines.

Without undue prejudice, an overview should be made of how this peculiar toy came into being. This aids your understanding and induces you to learn and master a lot of playing techniques for this toy. Historically, Yoyo could be traced to the Greek Vase Painting from 440BC which depicted a young boy having fun with a yoyo.

Greek archaeological records from 440BC portrayed toys produced from materials such as timber, opaque substances such as metal, and heated clay which is painted to enhance its appearance.

The heated and painted clay disks were utilized as a platform to render toys which have been in the young ones possession to gods that are pitch-forked amongst others. These sacrificial celebrations whenever this young one had attained full maturity while discs manufactured from other apparatus were utilized for practical play.

There have been different kinds of Yoyo designs over time right from the designs of the First Yoyo producing company. In the year 1928, a Filipino immigrant to the United States of America known as Pedro Flores opened the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara California.

Initially, this business commenced with a few dozen handmade toys and expanded to other parts of the country such as Los Angeles and Hollywood where Flores had two additional factories in operation. This expansion provided employment to 600 workers and produced 300,000 yoyo units daily.

The prominence of Ball Bearings

A Second modification made by a Swedish Company known as SKF manufactured yoyos with ball bearings known as Novelty Yoyos. Kuhn further developed this with the installation of the aluminium adverse wheel.

In Transaxle yoyos, ball bearings reduce friction significantly when the yoyo is spinning, inducing longer, more yoyo tricks. Hence, yoyo players exploited this to develop innovative tricks that were not practicable with the yoyo fixed-wheel blueprints. This tricks and techniques shall be subsequently examined.

Over time, a wide variation of ball bearings in stock which are distinct from the conventional ones. Specific kinds of bearing possess an inner surface which is bent to debar the nexus from causing harmful frictional damages to the yoyo. This prevents unwanted friction when executing intricate string tricks.

Some other high-end bearings make use of ceramic Composites in the balls of the bearing which aids the reduction of internal friction (which makes spinning smoother). In contemporary times, valuable apparatus like ruby are utilized and tested as forerunners because of the peculiarity of its features. This ruby prototype came to the limelight in the year 2018 with a test by Wolf Yoyo Works.

Having done an exhaustive overview of the history of the yoyo toy and its metamorphosis to become a relevant sport, it is necessary to examine the basics and different techniques used to play.

Basics of Yoyo Playing

A yoyo is played by holding the loose end of the string also known as the handle by inserting one of your fingers, usually the middle or index finger into a slip knot. Thus, you permit gravity or the force of a throw to spin the yoyo and unwind the string just like a pull string works.

You then allow the yoyo to wind itself back to your hands by taking advantage of its spin and the rotational energy associated with it. This exercise is often referred to as “yo-yoing”.

When playing in a simple manner, the string is envisaged to be manually wrapped around a cylindrical device with an axial hole using your hands. Afterwards, the yoyo is thrown in a downward direction till it hits the bottom of the string and then winds up back towards your hands. You then grab the yoyo for another throw.

Nevertheless, just like Soccer, basketball, and every other sporting activity have tricks which make them fun and more fascinating, yoyo equally has its tricks and techniques.

The most fundamental is the sleeping technique which requires the yoyo to be kept twirling at the bottom of the nexus for a while before coming back to your hands. The sleeping Technique and other tricks shall be examined in detail and you shall get to learn which suits your preference and level of Yoyo playing. This techniques are:

Sleeping Technique

The Sleeper is one of the most widely utilized yoyo throws and is the foundation for virtually all yoyo throws asides Looping. This technique belongs to the basic trick category which you must learn before moving to the immediate and advanced tricks. Sleeping technique simply entails keeping a yoyo spinning while it remains at the bottom of its uncoiled string.

To perform the sleeping technique, you need to have the throw in place as the intensity of your throw affects the execution of this technique. The importance of the throw is that you throw the yoyo with an intensified wrist action such that when the yoyo hits the bottom of the string, it keeps spinning in place rather than rolling up the string to your hands. When performing the throw, you have to move your hands upwards and downwards to maintain the sleeping position.

As earlier elucidated that the type of yoyo used affects your mastery of these series of techniques, most modern yoyos possess a transaxle or ball bearing to facilitate this technique. However, a fixed axle yoyo must be made loose enough to support this. This can be achieved by:

  1. Allowing the yoyo to remain at the end of the string to unwind
  2. Executing a Lariat or UFO to alternatively ease the tension

To end this sleeping state, you merely jerk your wrist which makes the yoyo catch the string and roll back up to your hands.  Ball bearing yoyos are shaped for effective execution of nexus tricks due to gloomy rejoinders that make it difficult for the yoyo to come back to your hands.

Also, fixed axle yoyos which are inexpensive usually spin between 10-20 seconds,  while the ball bearing yoyos which are expensive can spin for about a minute to four minutes.

In the year 2010, the world set record for fixed axle yoyos was 3 hours 51 minutes 54 seconds while Transaxle yoyos had 21 hours 15 minutes 17 seconds. The C3 yoyo design BTH has so far proven to be the best with a spinning time of 30 hours 28 minutes 30 seconds.

In Yoyo Competitions, your mastery of the sleeping technique is the basis for the unresponsive yoyo (1a) division. This makes it necessary to be selective with your choice of yoyos. After this selection and mastery of the sleeper’s technique, you can perform tricks like walk the dog, rock the baby, and around the world while the yoyo is in its sleeping state.

Unresponsive Technique

Extreme gaps between nexus and resistant systems induced the trailblazing development of this technique. Unlike primitive Yoyos which would come back to your hand when you strain the nexus, poorly responsive yoyos behave in a distinct manner. Thus, you perform a trick called bind to make the yoyo come back to your hands when you strain the yoyo’s nexus.

Looping Technique

This technique requires you to keep the body of two yoyos, one on each hand in a continuous motion without letting it sleep. Yoyos modified for this technique usually have their centers concentrated with weight to enable easy rotation around the String’s axis without the contribution of their weight to resistance as a result of gyroscopic effects. Looping is also known as 2A or two hands looping freestyle as it is commonly used in Yoyo Competitions In the 2A division.


In this technique, the string of the yoyo is not attached directly to the Yoyo’s axle and the yoyo is usually propelled into the air by executing a forward pass to be caught again on the string. This could equally be executed using a downward pass to achieve the same result.

The kind of yoyos which are especially suitable for this usually have flared designs like butterfly shape which makes it easier to land on the string. In addition, certain tricks necessitate the utilization of more than one off-string yoyos simultaneously tossed with a single hand. Yoyo competitions In which these tricks are used is the 4A division.

Read more: How to Wind a Yoyo?

Free hand

In the free hand trick, the yoyo is not attached to your hands but is attached to a neutralizer instead. You then toss the neutralizer between your two hands to make the execution of this trick complete. This technique was discovered by Steve Brown in 1999 and its patent is assigned to Flambeau Products which we learnt about in history. These technique is commonly used in the 5A division of Yoyo Competitions.

Walk the Dog

This technique seems easy but still requires good guidance to execute. To execute this technique, swing the yoyo a bit to make sure it has a direction to walk in and spin while letting the string off from the yoyo. It is equally important for the yoyo to be in your front to effectively execute it.

I can bet you’re so eager to start practicing all you’ve learnt. Have fun playing the yoyo.



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