Yo-Yo Enthusiast Information


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dotA yo-yo, a small spool-like toy reeled up and down by a string, can provide hours of activity any place, any time. With a little practice and patience, people of all ages and abilities can learn to yo-yo.

"The yo-yo is the second oldest toy known to mankind. The only older toy is the doll," says John Stangle. He is a world yo-yo champion and president of the American Yo-Yo Association.

"The yo-yo also is the most famous toy in the world. Just ask a two-year-old who is barely speaking -- they will say 'yo-yo' and reach for it. Show an old-timer and you are sure to get a story!"

dotThe yo-yo fits into the palm of your hand. That makes it easy to carry or to tuck into a purse, pocket or backpack. That means one can participate in this sport from any location. Many cities throughout the world have yo-yo clubs, which can be located through the Internet or local toy and hobby shops.

"People like being recognized, and if you practice, you will get recognized, even if just by your peers," Stangle says. "Keep your eyes peeled while driving through the city, on the freeway or wherever. You are bound to see a stereotypical picture of a kid outside their house yo-yoing."

dotThe use of the yo-yo around the world and throughout history is unmatched. This toy goes through periods of hibernation, but its popularity always returns.

Since the 1930s, over half a billion yo-yos have been made and sold. (That's from the Yo-Yo Book by John E. Ten Eyck.) Yo-yos are extremely popular currently in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, England, Canada and South America. Yo-yo is truly international.

"We've seen the largest growth in the last few years, but I would have to say that over the next five to 10 years, we are sure to see it grow more," says Jennifer Baybrook. She is a national and world champion yo-yo professional. "I recently have toured in China, and the yo-yo craze is just starting there."

Yo-yo contests, which began at candy stores, are today being held in large recreation centers and arenas. A 1997 yo-yo show in Japan attracted an audience of 40,000 fans.

Getting Started

dotTo get started with a yo-yo, Stangle suggests you watch a video or attend a yo-yo event. The Internet offers several sites that have videos to play in slow motion so one can observe various yo-yo techniques.

Learning from another person is perhaps the easiest way to learn to yo-yo, Stangle says. And then "practice, practice, practice," he adds.

dotYo-yo champion Rob Davies suggests that beginners start with the basic tricks and a basic yo-yo, then move up to bigger and better tricks. Basic tricks include sleepers, breakaways, loop the loops and trapezes. Work diligently on proper yo-yo techniques, as all complicated yo-yo tricks fall back on basic tricks.

dotStart with the basic throw. Put the yo-yo string on your middle finger between your first and second knuckle. Hold the yo-yo in your hand with your palm facing up. Throw the yo-yo straight down, tugging slightly to bring it back to your hand. Repeat.

After mastering the basic throw, you can move on to various tricks, ranging from beginner to advanced. Trick categories include string tricks, looping tricks and picture tricks.

dotString tricks have the yo-yo landing on the string one way or another.

dotLooping tricks have the yo-yo staying in constant, repetitive motions with stopping, known as "sleeping" in yo-yo language.

dotPicture tricks are tricks that resemble something, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Texas Star.

dotYo-yos can be found in hobby and toy stores almost anywhere. There are a number of designs of yo-yos, but the three most common are imperial/standard, butterfly and modified/modern styles. The best yo-yo is the one you prefer to use for your level of experience.

The imperial/standard is an all-purpose yo-yo good for looping tricks. The butterfly is basically an inverted imperial/standard that has a wider slot to perform more string tricks, like Man on Trapeze. The modified/modern styles are slim-shaped and have the most weight on the rims of the yo-yo, allowing longer sleeps.

"You can get a really good playing yo-yo for around $20 or less," Baybrook says. "If you take care of it, then the only thing you have to replace is the string and oil. I would say it's one of the least expensive sports one can choose."

dotYo-yo accessories a participant can buy, but that are not necessary for the sport, include various yo-yo cases, holsters and bags to transport the toy, stands to display the yo-yos, power rings to increase the speed, as well as various lubricants, waxes and how-to videos and publications.

Anyone can take part in this sport, regardless of age, size and physical fitness, Baybrook says. "It improves many things such as eye-hand coordination and concentration."

dotThe yo-yo also helps develop dexterity, provides an active versus passive activity, develops self-esteem and gives one a sense of accomplishment.

dotThose playing with a yo-yo may get a few bruises here and there, but no serious injuries or broken bones common to other sports, Baybrook says. Accessories for the more serious participant include finger armor and gloves to protect one from bruises associated with the yo-yo.

dotWhile the yo-yo provides hours of entertainment, people also can enjoy careers through the yo-yo as well. Moreover, collecting yo-yos is a popular hobby. Professional opportunities involve demonstrations, teaching and toy sales.

Davies is a distributor and instructor for PlayMaxx Inc.. He has been yo-yoing since he was nine.

The yo-yo has been Baybrook's career since she was eight. Today, the 20-year-old travels the world promoting and teaching the yo-yo as a part-time job.

Soon after Stangle started yo-yoing, people began to hire him to do yo-yo demonstrations. Today, he is a successful toy company owner in California.

"Always remember to have fun and take your time," Baybrook says. "Learn as much as you can, when you can, and be willing to give back the knowledge that was given to you."

Associations

American Yo-Yo Association
Internethttp://www.ayya.net/

Publications

The Yo-Yo Book,
by  John E. Ten Eyck
Published by  Workman Publishing Company Inc.
You Can Yo-Yo,
by  Bruce Weber
Published by  Scholastic Inc.

Links

History of the yo-yo
Read about the history of the yo-yo

Yo-Yo Universe
A list of yo-yo tips

How Yo-Yos Work
Read more about the science of yo-yos

Begin2Spin
Learn a trick