Yo-yo is a toy that has been around for many years, long before it was even named “yo-yo”.
While many people know that the Flores Company later bought by Duncan developed the modern yo-yo, few know they are not the ones that have invented the yo-yo. It is actually a toy that exists from ancient times. Yo-yo is considered the second oldest toy in history after the doll. While there is no recorded evidence that it existed in China, there is recorded evidence that it existed in Greece since 500 BC.
Both the Chinese and the Greeks believe to have invented this toy. However, it is more plausible that it was developed by both cultures without knowing the one about the other. In China, it was called “diabolo” and were mainly used by streets entertainers.
The fact is that the yo-yo travelled from the Orient to Europe and then to other parts of the world. And this is how it slowly became a popular toy for children all over the world.
Back in the days, it also meant different things for different social classes. While for the rich people, it was a fashionable thing to have one and it was made of all sorts of nice materials, for the poor they actually were a way to loosen their stress up when they faced harsh times. It was for sure seen a toy of fashion and of noble people. In countries all over Europe, people from rich classes as if kings and queens used it to relax and to display they had it.
Were yoyos used as weapons?
While they are believed to have been originated from China, their first mention was in Greece where the toy was called a “disk”. Thus, they date back to 400 – 500 BC when the Greeks used them for entertainment purpose.
Those days the disks were initially made of terra cotta – which is a kind of clay. As the clay is a rather fragile material, they were usually used to be offered to gods when the child turned of age. Those terra cotta toys if used for playing it meant a mother had to buy a yo-yo to her child every single day. Thus, some other materials started to be used for their building – wood and metal, and the terra cotta version was just to be offered to the gods as a rite of passage.
Another record states that in the early 16th century in the Philippines the hunters used a look-alike thing to hunt therefore as a weapon. It consisted of a rock and a 20 feet long cord. However, it is very less likely they draw their history from being used as a weapon. There is no evidence that those “weapons” were actually yo-yos.
But it can be true that from ancient China it travelled both to Greece and to the Philippines, where people used it as a toy, as a means of entertainment. Playing with the yo-yo is called yo-yoing and this is what it is currently used and known for – a toy that first of all is made for entertainment, then to develop a better eye and hand coordination, for socializing, for participating in competitions and for challenging you to improve your daily skills in a game – the game of yo-yoing.
What are yoyos good for?
There are many reasons people choose to purchase a yoyo these days and some of them are childish while some of them are quite serious. The truth is that it has been used as a stress reliever toy since early times and not only destined to children, but to people that were stressed, that went to fights – for eg. Napoleon and his army is said to have been relaxing with the yo-yo before the Battle of Waterloo started.
No matter the reason there are some things playing with a yoyo will teach you or your children:
– It can boost confidence in learning new things
– It can help children socialize
– It helps build hand-eye coordination
– It keeps kids away from the TV and outdoors more
– It is a learning toy that enhances your child or even yours, needs for perfection.
Best yo-yo brand
According to Ranker, the best yoyo brand as of now is the Yoyo Factory. While it is a rather young company, it exists since 2004, its aim is to improve the playing experience with its functional technology. And they have done this due to the thorough research they did and the end result is a durable and reliable toy for every user.
Best yo-yo string
While the main body of the yo-yo has been made out of different materials, the string, since the first yo-yo factory appeared, has been made of pure Egyptian cotton.
Right, there are some that use some synthetic strings, but sometimes those are harder to work with and to perform.
Choosing a yo-yo as a beginner
As a beginner, what you actually do not know is what does a yo-yo feels like in a hand? Thus if this is a thing that you do not know, choosing plastic or a wooden one makes no difference as you have not tried any of them so far. So you will just be acquainted with what you have.
Being a beginner you will most probably not want to spend too much on a yo-yo, so a plastic one will come in handier at first.
Another difference between the yo-yos is their responsiveness. While some more responsive – that is once the yo-yo is used it comes back to your hand on its own, or an unresponsive one – one that needs more tricks from your part to make it come back to your hand. Of course, for the beginners, it is best to choose a responsive yo-yo as you will not need to learn as well the extra work of getting back the string. You will be able to focus on the basics.
5 Best yoyos for beginners
- Fizz Yoyo
What makes this the ideal yo-yo for the beginners? It has a F.A.S.T response system. (Fully Active Starburst Technology) This system is there to stay, does not ruin, and thus does not need you to do any replacements or anything. What it actually does is making it easier for you to control the yo-yo and increase the confidence for a starter in his or her abilities.
Another great thing about this yo-yo is that it is rather small so it easily fits in the hands of children, it has a long lasting design and it is capable of basic string tricks like the below.
- Sage Yoyo
Another great yo-yo for the beginners is the sage yo-yo. It is made out of plastic and it is like a bridge between the easy to play and hard to play yo-yos.
Ever since it appeared, people think of it to have a good weight, very durable material and solid spin that does not allow any vibrations. It can sleep for 30 to 45 seconds with a good throw. While it was first conceived as a follower of the Luminator, it is far better than it when used to learn yo-yo string tricks and become more advanced in this game.
- YYF Replay – Responsive
This responsive yo-yo when it first appeared people received it very well and it has been up on the market. It comes with the body of a professional yo-yo but has the specs of a yo-yo suitable for beginners. It is one of the top performing plastic yo-yos out there.
It promises long spin times, which will make beginners enjoy their time to practice some techniques, and it does not require much maintenance.
- First Base Yoyo
This is another great yo-yo choice for beginners. The first thing you can notice at it is the shape, which is perfectly round giving a very comfortable feeling when you hold it in your hand. While it does not boost the smallest weight, it is just perfect for one to learn new tricks.
It comes with a slim bearing to help the beginners have confidence in their tricks. It does promise to get you a quite long sleep time. It also comes with an unresponsive bearing, which makes it great for advanced as well.
- Yomega Brain XP Transaxle Yoyo
This yo-yo boosts of being a great choice for young children giving them the possibility to learn tricks without being too frustrated they do not turn out. It comes with a manual and auto return clip that allows one to test the trick he learned.
The design Yomega has put into this is a transparent plastic that allows one to see the inside and makes it very appealing to children. They are very light and very small and helps children hold them easily with one hand.
5 world’s best yoyos
- Yoyo King Green Merlin Professional Responsive Yoyo
This is a great yoyo as it is rather light and small-sized and offers you the possibility to easily perform various tricks like Trapeze, Split the Atom, Braintwister, or the Double or Nothing. Its silicone response system and the narrow C sized bearing helps you get the responsiveness you need for your tricks.
- Yoyo King Merlin Pro Yoyo with Ball Bearing Axle
It is almost the same weight as the above one, thus it is also light and easy to handle. Made of durable plastic, it comes with a silicone response system and a ball bearing axle for super long spin times. It also has the narrow string size C bearing to be able to offer you the experience of the nonresponsive yoyoing.
- Yomega Spectrum – Light up Fireball Transaxle YoYo
This is a great choice for intermediate and advanced play.
Made from durable polycarbonate it is light and due to its transaxle, plastic sleeve placed over the axle, it can do long smooth spins. However, the transaxle yoyos will not return automatically, they rely on the experience of yo-yoing of the player to make it return by making a movement of the wrist. It comes with LED lights that help you play any time of day and night. While moving the wrist it activates the lights.
- MAGICYOYO K1 Responsive Yoyo
While it is heavier than before, it is a perfect toy for kid air families. It comes with the free glove and 5 different strings which makes it worth buying it.
It is an all plastic yoyo and plays rather fast. However, it is an unresponsive yoyo thus you will have to bind to wake up the yoyo. It is a great yoyo to develop your motor skills.
- The Sidekick Pro Unresponsive
Another great unresponsive yoyo is the Sidekick Pro yoyo.
It is made of aluminium alloy body and it uses a C track ball bearing. It is for sure recommended for the most advanced players, as it requires practice and knowledge beforehand to be able to use it. Perfect for learning new tricks all the time due to the wide ball bearing axle.
Though it can come pricier than the others can, a toy will be there in the long run.
What is the most expensive yo-yo in the world?
Anglam TiSS Black
While Duncan also has its most expensive yo-yo from the collection, the most probably newest and most expensive nowadays is the black Anglam TiSS. This bi-metal yo-yo was released in 2015 during the World yoyo Contest.
It is manufactured by sOMEThING by YoYoAddict and it is made of titanium with Stainless Steel weight rings. This black version is polished by the professionals for a smooth and luxurious finish and it comes at a price of $900.
Basic Yo-yo tricks
There will be no problem in making some yo-yo tricks like basic throw, sleeper, winding the string or even walking the dog.
- Basic throw
This may not seem as easy as it sounds. The first thing to learn in order to be able to make a basic throw is to know how to hold the yo-yo correctly. If the palm is up the correct position of the string should be going over the yo-yo. It is important to know that the string should come over the top of the yo-yo.
Another important thing when learning yo-yo playing is that you should adjust the string to your height. If not, you will have problems and the yo-yo may hit the ground and again when coming back be higher than your hand, and you will just have to keep raising your hand higher and higher every time.
Then, when the string is adjusted, you throw it out and turn the hand over in order to catch it as it comes up.
- Wind the string
Winding the string like a pro means knowing some three more principles to tackle with – the spin, slack and straight. This trick is important for all the rest of the tricks one can do with a yo-yo because it helps the string wind after it was let loose.
If the yo-yo does not spin it will not wind up; the string should have a slack bigger than the distance between your hand and the yo-yo. You have to keep the yo-yo’s string straight in perfect alignment with the yo-yo.
If you have the throw in place, then you are ready for the next trick – to make the yo-yo sleep. The sleeper position is when the yo-yo just spins at the bottom.
When trying to make it sleep the harder you throw the yo-yo the bigger tendency for it to bounce back and thus getting loose in the string again and the only thing it will do is coming again back up. Making the sleeping position means you have to control the yo-yos movements with your hand. You have to do an up and down motion with the hand when throwing it.
- Walk the Dog
Though it seems quite easy you still need the steps above to be able to make this trick.
When leaving the string off from the yo-yo it is important to swing it a little bit to make sure it will have some direction to walk in and spin. It is important that the yo-yo is in front of you leading you as this is the right move. Other variations of this are walking the cat – it walks in the opposite direction, the creeper – where you will kneel at the level of the yo-yo and it will come straight back to you and there is as well the walk the dog around the park, where you begin like walk the dog and continue with the yo-yo moving around you.
Intermediate yo-yo tricks
- Thread the needle
You have to throw a sleeper then you have to place the finger of the free hand under the string and lift it up. Then you have to slide the string through the channel from the behind to the front. Holding the free’s hand forefinger between the strings, move it outward and upward. You then have to pull the yo-yo hand backwards to make the yo-yo walk until it reaches the forefinger of your free hand. At that moment you have to let the yo-yo wind back up.
- Hop the Fence
This is a rather simple trick but you still have to have some knowledge of yo-yoing.
You have to throw down the yo-yo and as it returns let it “hop” over your hand. And then send it back to the floor and “hop” again.
- Loop the Loop
Though it seems easy, it really is not. You have to have good wrist coordination.
The first pass is forward and as it comes back to you do not catch it, but let it pass over your hand on the inside arm and make a circular wrist motion and then send it out again. Repeat this. You may not get it the first few times, but practice makes gold.
Advanced yo-yo tricks
- Through the Tunnel
This allows you to send the yo-yo through the tunnel instead of the one known as “walking the dog”.
You should throw the yo-yo down and swing it back and it should come in front of you. When it gets in front of you, swing it through your legs and let it slowly land on the floor. Walk it along the floor and in the end bring it back to your hand.
- Shoot the Moon
As this is a rather hard yo-yo trick, it should be done with a yo-yo you have complete control over.
You first have to throw the yo-yo up like in a forward pass. Then as it returns, send the yo-yo straight up by doing a semicircular motion. This will make it be rather close to your face, so be careful. When it comes down, you have to move your wrist to send it out in front of you.
It is best performed when wearing loose pants. It starts by throwing a sleeper with a sideways gesture. Then, you do not have to pick the yo-yo up, but let it spin on the side.
If you move the leg and the string touches your pants, it should make a “rattling” sound.
While in the past things were simpler than nowadays as you did not have that many options to choose from, now there are many options and many yo-yo manufacturers that try their best to come up with a new and improved yo-yo for all playing levels.