How do you get better

How do you go from a decent yoyo player to training for competition ?


I believe it’s a little known trick called PRACTICE… :upside_down_face:


There’s nothing stopping you from training right now. If you’re concerned about competing then do what @jhb8426 said and start practicing. You can focus on areas that need improvement, but a lot of improvement can come naturally just from yoyoing often.

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Hello! This is probably going to be the longest post I have made during my seven plus years on this forum. It will definitely be a look into Robin’s brain. I will attempt to explain why I feel the way I do about yoyoing, and the subject of skill acquisition. I think it’s time to put this out there. Hopefully it helps you out, Mr. Elyoyo!

I always love to see posts like this on the forum, rare as they are. This is because the reason that I joined the forums when I was much younger was because I wanted to be a professional yoyoer, and I knew that I had to talk to other people in the yoyo community, and learn as much as I possibly could from them. I was in your shoes.

I am not a world class thrower. I practiced like one for around four years, and then things like a passion for violin, (and pre med courses) forced me to stop practicing for 5+ hours a day. But, I have won a smaller state competition, and made finals at California state both times I competed. I can give you advice on how to get that far at least.

I’m not sure what level you’re at right now, so some of this might be earlier in your journey than you already are. But I’ll start kind of at the beginning.

I’d say the first thing you have to do is decide whether you want to be competitive yoyoer, and how badly you want it. Most people decide to be casual throwers. Some decide to hardly throw at all and mostly collect. All are fun. But competitive yo-yoing certainly takes the most work.

I think that you have to have a combination of drive to get the skills needed to put on a great freestyle, and an enjoyment of the process. If you don’t like to practice yo-yoing, no amount of competition glory, no sponsorship can make all the practice worth it.

So if you want it really badly, and you love to yoyo for hours on end, I would start learning as many tricks as you can. Know your way around the Yoyoexpert trick list. Through the master set. These are a really good way to expose you to a wide variety of elements, tech slack, etc. And the time spent learning them will also serve to establish a baseline of skill.

After you’ve learned most of these, I would start looking up different meta trick tutorials on Youtube. Most of these won’t be insanely difficult, and they will also start to be tricks that will score decently well. At the same time, I would start to gather some knowledge on what tricks score, and what doesn’t. Gentry Stein’s “How to Become a Yoyo Champion” series is very good. Watch all of these videos many times.

Keep learning meta tricks, and start combing the elements you know. Start making your own combos. I know making your own tricks is easier said than done, but play around with meta elements, ones that you know score well. Try combining them in ways you haven’t seen.

Also, learn a speed (railing) combo. there are plenty tutorials on youtube. Pick one you think is cool, and learn it. You need a good speed combo. Also, learn to yoyo horizontally. Just do it.

Once you have a good amount of combos put together, made of well scoring elements, including a speed combo, a hop combo, and at least one horizontal combo, start really start yo-yoing to music more. I think that yo-yoing to music is a great joy, and should be done as much and possible. Get a sense of how to yoyo to a beat. What works in fast and slow parts, and what doesn’t. Learning how to concentrate on hitting your tricks, while staying with the music.

At this point, you should have around 2 minutes of material you can use when throwing to music. Start making routines to some of your favorite songs. Imagine you’re on stage. Make multiple routines for fun. Even if you don’t have a specific contest in mind yet. I would also take advantage of any competition yoyoer that is willing to meet on zoom and critique your material. I know that Gentry Stein has a service where you can pay him to teach you. It’s expensive, but this is GOLD. Talk about as much as you can with him. Talk about what you’re confused about with the scoring system. Talk about how to practice. Maybe even your motivation.

Once you have a routine you like, find the contest you want, and enter. Do not expect to do well on your first time. If you do well on your first contest, it probably means you waited too long to start (just my opinion). Everyone gets flustered that first time the music starts. I bet 75% of people miss the first trick they do on stage. Its all part of the process. But even still, relax as much as possible.

So, don’t be discouraged when you get 30th at your first event. Look at your score, think about how you can improve, and make a plan. Take a few days off, and then hit it again. This time, you know what’s coming, and you’ll be READY. Keep that vision of what you want to be in your mind. It will seem farther away than ever, but whatever you do, hold onto it. This is when most would be competition yoyoers quit. Right after their initial low placement.

Keep working, and get on stage again. And again. You will improve a little every time.

Some side notes. There are a couple of sort of “lifestyle” things that I would say are good things for the aspiring professional yoyoer to do.

1.) Watch a lot of yoyo performances. Like, a LOT. Think about what the competitor did right. Think about what they did wrong. Watch how they use the music. How they execute their tricks. Find what inspires you. Picture yourself with that level of skill, on the world stage.

2.) Always have your yoyo with you. Even in your hand. Your yoyo is your sword. Make it feel more normal to have the yoyo in your hand than not to. Yoyo in line, at school, coming down the stairs to dinner.

3.) Keep a video log of your progress. This is a good way to document how much better your get over the course of months and years.

4.) Possibly most importantly, yoyo to music all the time. Not only is this very fun, but it gives me drive to be practice to be able to do incredible to tricks to my favorite parts in a given song. Think about what it would be like to hit the best banger trick you’ve seen in front of 1000 people, right at that good part in the music.

This is going to be a journey. If you’re just starting out, it can seem very daunting to have thousands of hours of practice, and hundreds of days between you and a competition victory. My advice would be to focus on the step in immediately in front of you, and enjoy it. So many people always have their eyes on that end goal, that competition victory, that sponsorship, that they eventually quit because it seems so far away. It is ESSENTIAL to strike a balance between having these lofty goals in mind, while not getting discouraged because you are far away from them.

I think that the goal of competition yoyoing is very admirable, because its a process that takes drive, hard work, and results in you becoming able to do amazing things through practice. I remember being 14 years old, and being so glad that I wasn’t 2 months in the past, because I was a worse yoyoer then. I was always jealous of my future self too. Because I knew that was a better yoyoer than the present me. I remember walking the halls of my middle school , and then highschool, my mind always focused on how I was going to become a better yoyoer. I remember thirteen year old me emailing the contact numbers on my yoyoexpert trading cards, hoping the players there would be willing to give me some piece of advice. Anything that would help me at all get closer to my goal. I remember laying awake every night, picturing myself not just as a champion yoyoer, but as someone who had that level of mastery. Who could make the yoyos on my dresser do the most amazing tricks. As silly as it sounds, it was very profound for me. I got emotional one or two times. I wanted it very badly.

I know that most people here are casual throwers, collectors, ones who yoyo as something to take their mind off a long days work. And definitely understand. Yo-yoing is great for that. That is mostly how I yoyo today. But I have a special place in my heart for the people who see the contest freestyles and decide to embark on the journey of trying to get there themselves. I have chosen to live my life around the process of improving myself through work. Of practicing everyday in hopes of one day being able to do something incredible. That is why I try to play the violin the way I do. That is why I want to be a doctor. I have consciously transferred my “champion yoyoer mentality” to these two things.

But as I said, I have a special regard for competitive yo-yoing, because it is what introduced me to this at a young age. This base level feeling of achieving that self improvement through struggle is unique. It is different than the material satisfaction. I think it means something much more.

Good luck my friend. Work hard, enjoy the process. Become one of the few who achieves mastery in their chosen discipline.


become addicted to yoyoing and everything about yoyo, let it consume your life until it is all you have left.
and yoyo alot.


Well said, my friend. I couldn’t agree with you more.

As a fellow former competitive yo-yoer (mediocre at best), this really hit home. Thank you for sharing. Such a great read.


Best post I’ve read on the forums in a LONG time… and not just applicable to yoyoing! When I was reading it, I was totally thinking about the points you were making from a musician’s perspective. Love two specific points you made… the first being about watching “the greats” (watching yoyo perfomances and really good competitors). I equate this to listening to the greats in jazz. It’s just kinda a fact that you can’t be a good jazz musician if you don’t listen to the music - you need a reference point in which to build your vocabulary and develop your own style. The second point you made about recording yourself is also HUGE… not only is it fun to look back on how you’ve progressed, there is nothing more honest than a video of you doing your thing - whether that’s yoyoing or playing jazz drums or whatever YOU reading this, does. I’ve quickly learned from my mistakes and know what to fix or make better when I watch a video of myself drumming or yoyoing.

Thanks for the great post tho @nightshadow. It was an inspiring read and appreciate you coming at it from a more encouraging, “if you wanna get really good at yoyoing, here’s how” perspective, instead of a “you NEED to get really good at yoyoing otherwise it’s pointless” perspective. Props. :v:

Back to the topic, three major take aways that answer the question, succinctly IMO:
Consistent practice, watching people who are the best at what you want to do, and recording yourself in order to evaluate and improve.


You get better……… Eventually.


Real talk:

To get “better” is often an answer that is difficult because it means differently for everyone.

But if you are treating yoyo as a sport, and thus wanting to win competitions, one of the main things to approach it is to learn as many tricks as possible. Specifically to learn as many ELEMENTS as possible to you have an understanding of the development of combos which then leads on to the development of a freestyle that you do on stage.

Another aspect is to look at the rules and the judging criteria- really study the mechanics behind it, speak with fellow judges on what they look for in a good freestyle and build it from there.

Ultimately, yoyo is quite a subjective subject- every single person has a differing opinion over this and that as to what is considered “good” or “better” so really…you the individual have to determine what that is.



I read all of it and great tips for learning how to become better and thank you again for that response i do have a passion for yoyoing i do it alot because it helps take my mind off things but yes the yoyoing to music and getting better i yoyo sometimes 5+ hours a day but recently i have been feeling like ive hit a plateau i practice all day like you said i yoyo while i walk around my house i just stopped yoyoing to write this😆 but what keeps me inspired is i live in a very small town less than 1000 people and my school isnt bery big either but i post alot of videos on snapchat and occasionally on tiktok and youtube but i post on snapchat story because alot of my friends see my posts and always let me know to keep going and how crazy some of the things i can do with a yoyo are i feel like ive become somewhat of a entertainment serivce for my friends and people from school some of them tell me they cant wait to see what i do in my next video i sometimes let them name combos i make by posting a sendit and i won the talent show a few months back in my highschool and i got 1st place but i am honestly obsessed with yoyoing especially in the blacklight and i really want to show the world about yoyos are how cool and stress relieving they are but i am always trying to invent new things with the yoyo instead of watching videos on tricks because i get more satisfaction by making my own tricks and combos but i think the only way to overcome this plateau ive hit is to start learning tricks from yo tricks and yoyo expert but thank you for the response i appriciate it greatly and im going to go back to grinding the yoyo​:joy::laughing:


Holy run on sentence :flushed::flushed::flushed:



If you replace every “but” with a period, it’s pretty coherent.

Maybe think about something other than yoyos while in class?

I hear this excuse from friends of mine often (im in my 30s) “I don’t use good grammar on social media because it doesn’t matter”. Its funny when I have an opportunity to read their professional communication and its no better. Grammar really matters.

“lets eat grandma!”
“lets eat, grandma!”


These guys ^^^ should know!

If I was young and obsessed with yoyoing and had plenty of time on my hands and wanted to compete I would do exactly the above.

Practice till TwoSet violin thinks you have practiced too much. That’s the true sign of mastery.


Sorry my grammar is really bad im 17 i should have much better grammar but i dont😂 also yes i litterally day dream about yoyos in class

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I would say it use to be easier, back when you had to learn the trick latter to be able to compete. if you could do all the tricks, then you knew you were ready to compete. Now it’s up to how well can you freestyle. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is a significant jump in skill to be bale to do single set tricks to learning how to best string elements together to create flowable combos and be able to nail those combos with cerography. I would say, getting to that point takes years of dedication. And it should. To compete you really need to be on a different level. Currently, I’m still in the trick learning side of things. I throw together combos every once in a while, but they are rudimentary. One eye opener for me was when I started filming myself doing more complicated combos like candy rain or some of my personal tricks. You become hyper aware of every little mistake you normally don’t make while just practicing. Even after “nailing” a combo, I look at how it went form the audience’s perspective vs how I perceived it and I am always disappointed. I’ve seen myself become very particular about form as a result. Excess movement, sloppy string lands, body posture, all of it. But when I do nail a trick now, the difference is night and day.

If I were to move forward and try to compete, I’d need to begin by stringing together more combos. Maybe do research on other performers and copy some of their routines, before making them my own. At some point you begin experimenting with new elements, able to break ground and create combos that haven’t been done before. But I doubt very few of us can reach that level.

I would say, like most, keep working on the trick latter, learn every advance combo you can. The elements in those combos will become the foundation for future freestyles that you can use IF you ever compete.

Something you can do while you practice is to switch to a “difficult” none competition yoyo. Something that is hard to land tricks on or maybe snags more than your other yoyos.
Start going through all the tricks you know on it and smooth them out. It will force you to get better rather than being too forgiving like a lot of competition yoyos. Do this for a while and swap back to your favourite yoyo and you’ll see your flow has most likely improved and your overall control of the string too


Practice, practice, practice, tons of practice, and you will become one with yoyo. Play together with unparalleled skill. (Reference to Tyler Vienneau, who I consider the god of yoyo)

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Thanks man. Yeah, the crossovers between music and yoyo are definitely there.