What it means to be a pro

(Owen) #1

Not sure how many of you have seen this, but here are the true words of yo that should be in the Bible.


Player, or Professional?

I had a conversation with a fellow yo-yo professional recently that really twisted my noodle. He was talking to a yo-yo player, young kid, probably no older than 18 or so, and talking to this kid about doing store demonstrations. The kid looked at him, and said “I don’t do store demonstrations. I’m a professional.”

His comment was that he had never wanted to smack someone so hard in his life. My feeling was that he probably should have done it.

There are a lot of yo-yo players in the world right now. Not as many as there were, say, in the 1950s or 1960s, but a lot. And there seems to be some confusion over just what exactly a “yo-yo professional” does and does not do.

See, a lot of kids have learned almost entirely off the internet. They never saw a demonstrator come to their local store or mall. They saw videos of kids standing on a stage at a contest, staring at their hands, and shredding out tricks as fast as possible to take advantage of the fact that quantity, not quality, is what wins yo-yo contests. So they look at this, and they think this is what it means to be a professional.

Of course, they are dead wrong.

Here is what it means to be a professional, in case you are wondering…

Being a professional means rarely, if ever, doing any tricks harder than the ones you are trying to teach. It means slowing down what you are doing, so that people can really see it…and see it in such a way that it actually looks possible for them to learn.

Being a professional means the knees of your pants get dirty, from spending a lot of time crouched down and trimming strings for kids.

Being a professional means smiling, and looking at the audience instead of your hands. It means making eye contact with kids, throwing them a wink, and doing a trick that you can teach them after the show.

Being a professional means that you are there to entertain, or to sell product, or possibly both. You are there, on that stage, in that store, to inspire someone to pick up a yo-yo and want to be like you. You are not there to show them how hard your tricks are. You are there to show them how easy your tricks are, so that they want to buy a yo-yo and play like you.

Being a professional means that the only people you need to impress are the people who aren’t yo-yo players. If your player buddies show up to your gig, you smile and acknowledge them, and move on to the people who came to see The Yo-Yo Man. You do not sneak away to hang out in a corner with them and compare tiny knot tricks.

Being a professional means sometimes you only get one uniform shirt. Sometimes you have to spray it with deodorant for a few days. Sometimes you have to wash it in the sink with hand soap, and dry it with the hotel blow-dryer. And you don’t complain, because it simply needs to be done and there isn’t time to do it any other way.

Being a professional means you stay until the kids have gone. You count the stock when you get there, you count the stock when you leave, and you try to do twice as well the next day.

Being a professional means sometimes you have to be in 10 locations in a single day. And you get there. On time, every time.

Being a professional means you are never too good to teach or show someone “Walk The Dog” or “Rock The Baby” or any other trick that your skill level has surpassed. You are never too important to stop and sign a yo-yo, or show a kid a part of a trick that they cannot figure out, and you are never too busy to stop and talk to someone. Being a professional means you make time, as best as you can, for everyone who is interested in what you are doing.

Being a professional means you are there for them. This is not a paid practice. You are not there to amuse yourself. And if you are unlucky enough to perform or demonstrate somewhere that there is no traffic, you talk to the store manager/tour manager/supervisor and find out what they want you to do. You don’t wait for them to tell you.

There are a lot of yo-yo players in this world. There are very few yo-yo professionals. Anyone can learn how to play…it’s being the person who teaches others that sets you ahead of the pack. It’s a special, sacred thing to be responsible for someone’s inspiration.

Being a professional means never losing sight of that.


Awesome post! Very inspiring