Starting to yoyo with a "non starting yoyo"

I notice that many yoyo player of today start out by learning how to yoyo with a unresponsive wide gap yoyo right away. I note that many new players will jump into the tricks with something like a wide gap yoyofactory or something of the like. Its nice to see kids able to get these yoyo and succeed, but I wonder how many of these kids can appreciate the responsive fundamentals and the classic tricks that lead to todays tricks.

When I first started as a young pup, I use a proyo. It had a wooden axle, thin gap, take apart design, very basic. But I learned allot from using that yoyo. I learned how to throw and keep a steady hand to keep the yoyo “sleeping” at the end of the string. I learned how to throw hard and straight so I could do a successful “rock the baby”, how to keep steady hand to keep the yoyo spinning until I wanted it to respond with “around the corner”, and “creeper”. I feel that this builds a certain “know” of how the yoyo works and how to throw it correctly. I learned tricks up to split the atom on that proyo, and I remember the rewarding feeling of being able to do a full split the atom on this proyo. Later on, I happened across a yomega raider, and the concept of a bearing was amazing to me. I learned more advanced string tricks on this yoyo, but this yoyo was also very responsive, and it still required me to have the careful “feel” and steady paw of what I needed to do. I feel that this yoyo helped me quite a bit. Moving further, I got a superyo renegade, which took me into more advanced tricks, but here you had to be careful. If you allow a string to get even the slightest bit bunch up in the gap, the yoyo will respond and hit you, which could hurt. Still you need to learn and it require much careful movements.

Now today, kids will be able to learn many new style tricks on these wide gap yoyo, but ask them to do a braintwister on a fixed axle, and I think they probably could not do it. You gain a certain understanding of a yoyo when you use responsive and fixed axle yoyo, and I think that many dont understand this idea today. Do you feel this is such?

When I try to teach a newer one to yoyo, I start them on the complete basic. not even a wing shape as I feel this “understanding” in an important concept to grasp.

How do you feel about this?



I too started on responsive yoyos and I do notice this trend. I think its because unresponsive tricks look cooler. I also have noticed that the kids who start unresponsive seem to quit sooner.

I think it’s about expectations. When a kid picks up a yoyo he wants to be able to do what he saw “that guy do.” Kids see something on youtube and want the same yo and expect the same results. No youtube for me! I picked up a yoyo and looked at the trick booklet. Yep that was my motivation and my expectations. Of course kids seem to have access to more money to buy things now and way more technology for learning and motivation. When I was a youngster, my grandmother would take a broken tree branch, cut a couple of cross sections, drill a few holes and put a dowel in there. Now that’s a yoyo!

If kids had to pay their dues the same way we did, they just wouldn’t do it! Different world, different times, different motivation, so I’m just happy my yo journey has followed the path it has. Each has their own journey to follow. Some journeys will be longer and go places never foreseen, other’s just a short trip around the block. Regardless of the journey it can always be continued just by picking up a yoyo once again.

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Yeah I don’t think most kids today would have the drive to learn on responsive yoyos either. I think starting with a responsive yoyo helps increase skill and weeds out quitters because if you can persevere through learning on a proyo you probably won’t quit

I started with a Duncan Butterfly in second grade. Didn’t learn tricks with it until 4 months ago. I learned all the tricks I could do with a fixed axle. Then I bought an unresponsive yoyo about a month after I started learning tricks. My friend had one. So he taught me, and then I learned tricks from Andre Boulay on youtube. I think kids need to work with responsive yoyos first.

I’m old school. I started responsive, because I “didn’t know any better”. Then I got information overload and actually had a bit of a meltdown as a result. No worries, it’s all good. It’s there was too much change and evolution with the yoyo between my first hands-on experience(and failure) kn 1978 and moving forward to 2011.

Today, people are impatient. If they can’t exhibit mastering of something in 5 minutes, they get frustrated and give up and move onto something else. Short attention spans aren’t just a problem with kids, we adults have acquired them as well, but we can often overcome this to do what needs to be done, USUALLY. However, the impatient are growing up impatient and the odds are that this will only get worse.

The yoyo is something that you must EARN through hard work and determination, coupled with any natural ability.

Responsive got me started. I was worried about “I gotta learn a trick just to bring it back?” was a great amount of worry for me, but thanks to responsive play, I gained confidence and was able to get the bind. Now I play mostly unresponsive, but I’ve earned the ability to do so. I’m not great, I’m not even good, I am probably “passable” at best.

The other thing about responsive play is it starts them out with a history lesson: this is where it was… sorta… so start here and build fundamentals. Now go get some skills, build a strong foundation and work your way up.

This is unlike video games. We don’t need to search Ebay for an Atari 2600 to show kids “this is how we used to play games”. We can just get whatever we want and plug in. Yet, kids and adults will spend countless hours mastering a video game, but won’t spend an hour with a yoyo.

I don’t know… I mean, you can do all the silly beginner tricks with an unresponsive yoyo, then bind it back except for maybe Creeper and some other stuff. At the same time, I find it quite satisfying to do the trick and then just have the yoyo pop back to me rather than bind it back.

Also, we have to ask how much of this is mind over matter. Some kids can be stubborn and determined. I bet these are the ones who stick with the yoyo and compete AND do well.

I think unresponsive gets more quitters than responsive. It doesn’t really bother me much that people start on unresponsive, as I also started on unresponsive. You can say that responsive is better because it is tougher, but I doubt you will find people out there that prefer windows 98 over Windows 7.

I can empathize with this thread quite a bit. I got started on a Saber Brain and learned most of the basics on that. Then a friend of mine got a bunch of Hyper Raiders from a dollar store and gave a couple to me. Mach 5, Cold fusion, 5a Aerials, you name it, I learned it on those Raiders. Larger bearings, larger gaps, and unresponsive play have definitely opened a new realm of play for me, but it in no way diminishes the fun of unresponsive play. I can also safely say that I don’t enjoy the new surge for the biggest gap possible.

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I think starting with a large gapped, unresponsive yoyo just leads towards bad habits. People don’t understand what their doing wrong because their yoyo doesn’t talk back to them when they make mistakes (aka smack the bajeezsus out of their hand.) Learning on a fixed axle or really responsive yoyo will make life easier in the long run for a yoyor, imo. There are very few tricks you can do unresponsive that you can’t do on a responsive/fixed axle yoyo, within the limits of the sleeping ability(of course your not gonna bust out that 40 second long crazy combo). Nailing a trick like spirit bomb on a fixed axle just gives you a feeling that is undescribeable. I have started to carry around a fixed axle in my car…when i play unresponsive in public i always get the guy who gives me the “Awww that yoyo is cheating, I wanna see you do that with a “real” yoyo.” Then i can just bust it out and show them…Yeah i can do it on those too.

I agree with Jason…I’d like to see more yoyo with gaps around 4mm…one of my favorite unresponsive yoyos at the moment has a 3.7mm gap. When i see something in the 5mm range my jaw always drops…WHY?!? :o

I always teach people with a butterfly/proyo(something similar) because they NEED to know the basics. I don’t like when people buy expensive things right away. My friend started and I told him protostars are nice and the next day he not only bought a yoyo, but a counter attack. My other friend did the same and bought a popstar, AND a dark magic II. They both quit within days and didn’t even know the basics. It is sad and I wish people wouldn’t be so compelled to waste their money and not learn what started it all.

When I started, all there was were responsive yoyos and tricks (to my knowledge). The most ‘high tech’ yoyo I had back then was my Raider. Sure there were those metal yoyos you could only get through mail order and they were expensive but the boom that flooded retail stores were all responsive, thus being the majority at the time. Unresponsive meant that it was time to put some thick lube in the bearing/transaxle so it would quiet down and come back up when I want it.

There’s nothing wrong starting unresponsive, just a bit more of a challenge. It is however good (and fun) to mess around with responsive yoyos as well. There is nothing more satisfying than regenerating into a long sleeper after a goofed up loop. The younger the age however, the better it is to start responsive. I do think I eventually figured out how to get my unresponsive Raider back up, via binding or when I got lucky and tension was tight enough, the string would catch itself inside.

This thread reminds me of when I learned to ride my unicycle at the beginning of this year. Most recommend holding onto a friend and ride a distance to get comfy (or hold onto a long wall). I did the opposite, holding onto the side of a parked car, push off and ride (and see how far I go). Today I can ride indefinitely (or until my legs poop out). Sure it’s tougher and in the long run, shorter you can still learn what you need. Some people do however require a bit more steps to get something down.

That said, I’ve been messing with my Velocity today. I need something responsive to work with when I’m riding my uni. Binding is a tad difficult and will throw me off at the moment…I’m even having a tough time doing Eiffel Tower at the moment…however I was able to wind the yoyo and ride down the street.

How does one start yo-yoing unresponsive without yo-yoing before? Doing a bind may seem relatively easy to you but to others, landing a yo-yo on a string is really difficult.

I’ve gotten a lot of kids to learn to bind. It’s a matter of keeping your hands straight, pull IN with your non-throw hand on the string, while pulling straight UP with your throw hand. Once they get over the idea of trying to force and just let it happen, it goes pretty good. still, I don’t advocate starting off unresponsive. But, the problem is that with the yoyo, unless you’re actively pursuing information, you don’t know squat, and that’s precisely the problem. In the case of many of the kids here, the yoyo has changed a lot since their parents. I’m 40, so that’s given me a bit of a strange perspective on the topic as I’m technically ALMOST old enough to be 2 generations out.

Again, ignorance, but not by choice. “A yoyo is a yoyo”, and they understand modifed shapes(narrow) and wing-shapes(wide) and that’s about it. Things like strings, response systems, bearings, lube and stuff like responsive and unresponsive play…

Case and point:
A store I was at on Saturday had YYF Starbrites. I have one, I like it, it’s really good not even for the money. It’s super affordable and a powerful player. At under $20, a parent can buy into this real fast and think CORRECTLY they’ve given their kid a good yoyo. They have given their kid a good yoyo, but starting from NOTHING… well, it’s not a good starter yoyo. Now they have a frustrated kid AND a frustrated parent or parents, nothing is happening and nobody knows why. Frustration turns to anger and anger turns to failure, and failure leads to “game over”. It takes a bit of proper wording in a search engine to really find out what the problem is. What the WILL find won’t makes sense until they do more research and acquire more knowledge. There’s a lot of assumption that they’ll take these steps.

I started to learn by reading the insert on the package of my Reflex. Having “mastered” the Reflex, I moved to the Imperial to see if I could still throw properly AND see if I could gravity pull it back. Ah, success. I’ve now gone past where I was as a child with the yoyo. After this, it was “10 in a row” practice to improve. While I was doing that, I was searching for more information. I’m not going to turn this into a “thank goodness for Andre” or “rescued by YYE”, but it’s true in my case. Honestly, if it wasn’t for this site, I’ve had stopped in May of 2011, a few weeks after I started, yet I didn’t because of the help I found here. What someone ideally needs to do is find a support route BEFORE starting in this. Ask questions, get knowledge, make informed decisions and have a someone who can help you get started.

I purchased my DM2 on National YoYo Day in 2011 from YYE and received it a few days later. I will make another purchase on National YoYo Day for the same reasons, maybe another blue DM2… maybe something else.

Pretty much self-taught thanks to the videos here and elsewhere, I moved from responsive play to unresponsive play. It’s honestly not the best way to go. Clubs, meets and other get-togethers are the way to go. Out of a want to meet other throwers, I organized my own meets. I met theroybit and honestly one of the best motivators. He’s shown me a few things and kept my motivation where it should be. I’ve actually improved a lot in the past few months. I’ve met Chris Allen, ran sound for a major yoyo contest and am running sound for another major yoyo contest coming up. I have frequent contact with TMCertified. I have surrounded myself with yoyos and the culture and trying to be involved in the community.

While I’m kind of an exception, my point doesn’t change. It’s not wise to get into yoyo withtout having some method of direction and instruction in place. Not to sound mean or nasty, but kids can’t rely on their parents being able to help. I do agree with something Andre said in a documentary at Worlds 2011, where most people have experience with the yoyo, the reality is most people have thrown and pulled them back, and that may be it.

I don’t think it’s smart to start off unresponsive with no support system in place. It’s bad enough that people have short attention spans, but also unreasonable expectations. Throw, tug… no return…= frustration, failure and quitting. Responsive play yields results on multiple levels. We have to crawl before we walk, and walk before we run.


Wisely put good sir. I find that i agree with this on all points. I think it imperative for one who truly wishes to master the “art of Yo”, to start at the most basic level. Responsive play.
Case in point: When my girlfriend decided to take an interest in yoyoing, i was thrilled but also a bit hesitant because she wished to start with an unresponsive yoyo. I was a bit hesitant in starting her off in this manner but she had no interest in responsive play. Somehow she took it as demeaning and didn’t want to try. I kept telling her that she can’t skip the basics and just expect to excel at it.
So she starting learning how to bind, and of course she grew frustrated that she couldn’t do it. As studio so wisely said:

Nevertheless, after a few weeks of attempting to learn string tricks before learning first how to adequately throw, she picked up my responsive DM2, She started learning tricks fast and finally became excited about yoyoing. But only through failure did she finally yield to my advice.
You have to start with the basics.

Just like when your trying to learn anything else. You don’t build a house all at once, you build it ONE-BOARD-AT-A-TIME.

I learned responsive first, but it was still a few years before the unresponsive movement took off. I think there are some advantages to it, namely that you get a good feel for the yoyo and how it moves since there is a lot of up and down and looping happening, as opposed to a yoyo that just hangs on the string for a minute before you bind it. It’s probably also more immediately rewarding as even basic things like a sleeper and return, rock the baby, and loops can be picked up in a matter of hours or days without the need to memorize esoteric string routines.

As for the “kids these days” and what they do, they’re just like any other kid throughout time. New stuff, same mentality. They get excited about something, most quit and move onto other things, a few will find a hobby in it. I don’t think it really matters whether the yoyo is responsive or not. What changed is you and your perspective on kids.

I learned up to trapeze on a butterfly.

I won’t argue that point. But, I’m also seeing trends and having to deal with kids(not just mine) at least M-F, I see a lot of things different. Granted, my perspective has changed now that I’m “grown up”(for lack of a better term), but I find that kids can’t focus on much these days for more than a few minutes at a time. Working with teachers, they have a very hard time getting a classroom full of 18-28 students to calm down and stay on task.

My kids aren’t any better. Getting one of my kid’s to bind is very difficult for multiple reasons. One reason being the fact that he is 5, he’s not really all that tall, so he can’t use a long enough string to easily bind, so his margin for error is excessively small. He CAN bind, just not consistently yet, but he’s getting there. He won’t work on his own, be it yoyo or school work. We’re on a year-round track system for school(3 months on, 1 month off) and he’s in Kindergarten. In addition to the yelling and screaming my 4 kids were doing(he’s the 2nd eldest), he needed to work on his letters. I gave up trying to get him to do his letters because I was unable to maintain work that I needed to do, which was unfortunately sabotaged through their screaming while with clients on the phone, costing me clients on a daily basis. The only time he really works at it is when I’m trying to practice, but 5 minutes in and he’s done. When I was at meets, he was destroying my stuff by taking apart my off-strings, putting them back together(mostly), then throwing them and they would explode and parts would get lost in the grass.

Dealing more directly with “yoyos in the wild”, kids would come up at my meets and want to try, so we’d hand them responsive yoyos. If they aren’t doing awesome tricks in like 2 minutes, they get bored and walk away, even if we’re working 1 on 1 with them. People just have unreasonable expectations. The kid’s school had a NED show and I saw tons of kids getting and trying to play with yoyos. The numbers dwindled and the numbers have actually stopped at this point in time. The only one I see at the school with a a yoyo is me.

And it’s not just there either. Sports: if they aren’t grand champions right away, they quit. One of my in-laws, if he can’t take to a sport immediately, quits and moves into something else. And that which he does take to, lasts him a month MAX and he moves on.

With my first experience, a losing battle with a Duncan Imperial, I received no help. In fact, I was called names by my parents(idiot, stupid) because I couldn’t use it. I was a failure since “every other kid on the block could use it”. They could throw it(at least down and pull it back) but refused to show me how to throw properly. I worked on that thing a half hour a day for 5 months before the 1 string was so worn out I could no longer knot it at the bottom to keep trying. My mother caught me with the string snapped out at the bottom before I could tie a new knot in the bottom and she took it away and I was reprimanded for breaking my toys… I’m not going to sit here and say I had a bad childhood, it was fine. This was just a “dark element”.

As most kids are going to start on their own or have little to no support, I don’t think unresponsive is the way to go. They’ll have enough difficulty throwing properly, now they gotta going into a mount to bind it? No, not yet.

So I won’t deny that I have changed. It’s possible. But there’s no denying the massive increase in kids being diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and Autism, there’s also something else going on. In many cases, I do think that parents stepping up can resolve SOME ADD and ADHD issues. The one that worries me is the rise in Autism.

As I see the rising numbers of abandoned skate boards, skates, bikes, games and other stuff after Christmas(as in brand new stuff), it’s clear people in general aren’t able to maintain a train of thought much anymore. In my case, I’m prevented from being allowed to have a train of thought, because of constant disruptions that prevent me from getting tasks accomplished. Deadlines come and go, jobs are lost left and right, money is being left on the table and my business is bleeding into oblivion. But that’s another topic.

Life is becoming Short Attention Span Theater. We need to slow down this fast paced lifestyle and learn how to live and enjoy a little. Somewhere in the mid-1990’s, coincidentally with the .Com boom, the world went into hyperdrive for no apparent reason. information sped up, attention spans went down. And I helped build a large portion of this internet boom by helping install circuits, routers and other equipment.

Sometimes the simplicity of throwing a yoyo down and bringing it back up is more than sufficient to help “throw away the stress” of a hard day.

But if a kid can’t handle the up and down of simple responsive play, how are they going to handle unsupervised unresponsive play?

I’d agree that there has been a rise in diagnosed “pathologies” like ADD and ADHD, but a big point of contention in the psych community, at least when I was studying, is that it doesn’t actually tell us whether or not those things existed before it was a popular diagnosis. The advent of medications, and drug companies doing all they can to get doctors on board, to treat the symptoms are most certainly influencing the rate of diagnosis…if they’re not entirely responsible. No one was collecting serious data on unruly kids before there was profit to be made from it.

Autism is much trickier, but that is more than likely a purely biological phenomena which has very little to do with a child or parents behavior. Although, the rate of autism has probably changed less drastically than you might think, as it wasn’t until 20 or 30 years ago that anyone was much interested in making an effort to properly diagnose and treat mental illness. Mildly autistic kids were largely left to flounder in the classroom, and just written off as “slow”.

At any rate, I think it’s correct to say that as we move forward, there will be fewer and fewer chances for kids to really buckle down and put in some effort toward a simple goal. Life just doesn’t work that way anymore. But the kids…I think at their core, they’re the same snot nosed little buggers we all were once, they just have more to bug us with.

Honestly I think you arent giving the youth of today enough credit. I started with a YYF Whip a few weeks ago and I havent quit and I cant see quitting in my near or distant future. Kids, teenagers, pre-teens all have much greater attention spans than one would think but it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Teach the kid a few tricks with an unresponsive and soon he’ll try a responsive.

I am like a week into yoyoing, but I’m getting my protostar in two days. I started with a Duncan mosquito and that was light and responsive. I have known how to sleep for a while, but just recently found my old mosquito yoyo in my closet. I can land the yoyo on a string but the yoyo is so light that the sleepers are very weak. I like the way that the yoyo helps you to begin, but I can’t do anything with it. I am very excited to get my unresponsive yoyo. The only bad thing is that my mosquito is hard to keep spinning long enough to bind, so I will have to learn on my protostar, which is difficult. I will stay though, I like to do hobbies like this and I used to rubiks cube(best time 46 sec).