Advice for Getting Better

I have a general question about getting better my tricks. I watch a lot of videos of great players throwing great looking freestyles that, whether improvised or not, look effortless and natural. How does one get to this point in their playing? Obviously regular focused practice is essential, but is this kind of achievement done through maintaining a large trick vocabulary and stringing together elements of those separate tricks, or is it something else that I’m missing? Is there some X factor that players like Nate Sutter and Ed Haponik, probably the two players I would most like to emulate, have that I just don’t? Please don’t think I’m discounting the work ethic of all the pros out there. They have obviously practiced very hard for a long time.

I’ve been yo-yoing off and on for about two years. My practice has been admittedly inconsistent for that time. My wife and I just had a baby three months ago, and I juggle that with two jobs. When I do find time to practice, I want to make sure that I’m practicing effectively. Should I just keep learning tricks and mounts? Currently I can throw tricks like Cold Fusion comfortably, and I’m working on Dinosaur Dancing from the High Speed Yoyo website videos.

Thanks in advance for the insight!

The X factor is practice. The more time you put in to it, the more time you get out.

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Work on getting the tricks you know smooth. Basically that’s what practice is, not necessarily having a large bag of tricks to grab from. After you get some down, learn another and work on it.

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Start with a mount… just move the yoyo in and out of places you haven’t before…

And remember, if you’re not getting a knot, you’re not doing it right.

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The most efficient way I’ve found is to watch multiple tutorials of the same trick. It can save you loads of trial and error time. There are a four or five good web sites I always check when looking up tutorials.

I personally like to think of it as a long term endeavor. I simply don’t have the time to practice for 8+ hours a day. At my current pace, it’ll take me a year or two before I can start creating my own stuff.

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^ He’s right.

Besides the tutorials on YYE, I found that the tutorials on Rethinkyoyo are the best.

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My advice:

Practice and go through the YYE tutorials. The checklist he gives you in every order are the “First 50” you learn that gives you most of the tools you need to create your own tricks.

Whatever time it takes, is whatever time it takes.

After that, practice, practice and practice more. I’ve been at this almost 2 years. I kind of make up my own stuff, but I throw to enjoy. I have no schedule. This is merely a journey with no destination, just a wandering path.

However, I feel my journey is starting to come to an end. But that’s a whole other issue.

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Let go, and begin.

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Maybe set a schedule? One trick a week, couple hours a day. The next week, practice that one trick from the earlier week and plus a new one. Etc, etc, and etc.

I’m sorry to tell you but I think this x factor is months to years of playing. I don’t think it would need you to practice like hours a day.

me about two years ago:

me about a year ago:

As you can see most of my 1a combos are just basically the same, but the latter looks somewhat better and has some flow in it. I don’t do anything special or purposely practice the same tricks for hours… it just comes out naturally.

I found that I learn the most when I’m having the most fun. That may be just me but i doubt it :wink:

jojo moar

jojo moar wif moar jojos!

OK, you don’t need that second part. But I can’t help myself. 5 new fixed-axle throws arrived today. :wink:

Come to think of it, that’s not bad advice, either: try to play a bit of fixed-axle or at least responsive play from time to time. Not just a whole different set of tricks, either, but the tricks that you know for unresponsive… see if you can get the string in the gap cleanly enough and provide just the right amount of string tension to not have the jojo snap back and bust your knuckles.

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man… it’s so surreal having my name dropped in this context (let alone next to nate’s, who i also want to be when i grow up).

i think there are some x-factors to consider, but maybe not what would first spring to mind. anyone who said ‘practice’ is right, but having the opportunity to practice is also key. for most of the time i’ve been yo-yoing, i’ve been a teacher. i yo-yo during class, during recess, during yo-yo club (and obviously at home). most of that time is spent showing other people how to do simple things, which has gotten me very solid on a lot of the basic elements.

i also play a lot more with wood and high-response than with ‘modern’ yo-yo’s. obviously you don’t have to do that to be smooth, but i think it’s helped me shed a lot of unnecessary movement.

it helps to get really tired of other peoples’ tricks. it’s like jazz: ‘learn the rules, then throw them away’. i learned everything by escolar/sector_y/ken’s world, but in the last 5 years i really don’t learn other peoples’ tricks unless they’re overwhelmingly simple AND awesome. once you have a vocabulary, it’s time to get writin’ (for me anyway).

just like competitors have to think creatively about stringing together a freestyle, i think it helps even casual throwers to think about how they structure a session. what do you do in between tricks? how do you catch the yo-yo? what is your trick rhythm like? what sequence of tricks do you tend to do for fun? it becomes like picking out a line while skating on the street.

i think you also have to be pretty naive to be a good yo-yoer. you have to believe that the thing you’re going to try is rationally possible. with a lot of the fixed axle stuff i try, i have no idea if i’m going to waste a week trying a concept that i just won’t be able to hit. as soon as you know you can, it becomes a bazillion times easier.

i hope some of that is helpful. that anybody wants to play anything like me is an absurd honor. i’m not a master, but i always try to remind myself of the zen quotation “do not follow in the footsteps of the masters; seek what they sought.” for that, regardless of which pro you’re emulating, you mostly just have to try to express life’s fun through your yo-yoing.


Thank you everyone for the replies!

It seems that consistent practice is a given, which I should expect. I tell my guitar students to practice all the time. I’ll also take to heart the fixed axle advice. I already have a TMBR Lovejoy that could use some love. Perhaps this would be a great time to order a yo-yo holder for my belt buckle and try to throw in between lessons or behind bar at the coffee shop when it’s slow. Except for a brief stint as a kid, I didn’t pick up this hobby until grad school as a stress relief.

Big thanks to the forum for all of the advice! Plus it’s nice to know the pros are such down to earth people!

Everyone has different preferences, methods and ways of learning. Some people like old school, some like new school, some like both. Some like to be competitive, some like to be chill, some like to be both. Some people like mimicking other peoples tricks, some like making up their own, some do both. Some people play, some people collect, some do both. Etc etc. you’re going to have to realize your goals out of the hobby and figure out what works for you.

But the common denominator for what ever method works for you to get better, is dedicated practice.

Perfect practice makes perfect. God Bless - Moefv

I know that the secret to getting better is practice (which in my case is the major sticking point, although I try to practice a little each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes before I go to bed). My question is: how do you keep from getting disheartened when you’re not progressing as quickly as you would like? Maybe I have unrealistic expectations, but I have a clear vision of where I want to be at the end of the year, and at my current rate I’m not going to get there.

I guess that’s where I’m lucky. I have no real expectations, so as long as I progress a BIT, I’m happy. :wink: And those needs are easily met because there are TONNES of beginner/intermediate (and even expert) level tricks I don’t know yet. So when I’m failing to progress in one way (getting smoother, executing more consistently, flowing elements together) I can progress in another (learn a cool new trick!).