Yo-Yo Thoughts

Do you think about yo-yos on a deeper level than just “Trick landed, nice”? Then post ya’ random yo-yo thoughts here. I’ll start.


There was a topic with this same title that I found, but it was just another DK joke… but it got me thinking about a conversation I recently had on Instagram about whether yo-yo design is still progressing.

I think it is.
There’s a lot going on with yo-yo design right now: obviously the DK is just weird, although there have always been weird yo-yos around; A-RT is making unique “made by players with good taste in yo-yos for players with good taste in yo-yos” thing; Duncan, while producing yo-yos mainly aimed towards a broad audience, is melding uniqueness and playability into one (that often goes unappreciated by sophisticated yo-yo players who only use niche American brands); One Drop continues to make really different yo-yos that push the envelope; YoYoFactory always makes experimental and great designs while also catering to the general appetite; the list goes on and on.

The question is: do you think yo-yo design has or ever will stagnate?

My idea is that it isn’t, because the types of tricks that people do are constantly changing. Yo-Yos are all about tricks. As I yo-yo more and more, I realize that the “it’s not the yo-yo, it’s the player” stuff is nonsense. Yo-Yos do make you better at yo-yoing. There are yo-yos that are bad, and tere are yo-yos that are good. When you use good ones, you do better tricks and you are inclined towards inventing tricks more often (what makes a “good” yo-yo? I could go on and on…) Certain yo-yos are better for certain tricks and types of tricks and flows and movements and all that stuff, and as tricks continue to be innovated and as meta tricks continue to develop into different and new things the demand for yo-yos to accommodate this never-before-seen style of play will increase and SHAZAM, you have a new yo-yo design.

But will these tricks, these tricks that push the innovation of yo-yo design itself, ever stop being innovated? It’s a good question, one I can’t really answer. Tricks will stop being innovated when people stop innovating them.

Recall that modern yo-yoing is pretty much like 20 years old. Very young, very new. I think about what it will be in 20 more years and I have no idea what image comes to mind. Blank whiteness, emptiness. I have no imagination about where yo-yoing will go, and that makes sense. I control the tricks that I do, but not the tricks that everyone else does. So I innovate baby steps, and everyone else innovates baby steps, and it’s a big yo-yo society revolving around baby step tricks.

Anyway, I think yo-yoing is really interesting to think about with a societal mindset, thinking about the implications of inventing new yo-yo tricks and the importance of yo-yo design and what it means for the community at large…

Discuss! or bring up a different thought about yo-yo that you’ve had on your chest (yo-yoing is mathematical, yo-yoing is linguistic, the yo-yo community is a mini society that should be rigorously studied, etc…) I’d love to hear what random thoughts about yo-yoing you have. And if you don’t have any, I do. I have lots. And I’ll post them here.


Yea, like… what even is yoyoing any way? It’s a pretty strange thing to be good at, in all honesty. Humanity has come a looong way, that’s for sure. We started off hunting and gathering, and now we argue over bearing maintenance and the concept of competition.


Over 90 percent of All people that have ever, ever thrown a yo-yo; have never discussed a single word regarding the concept of competition.

They are too busy out hunting and gathering.

You also forgot about the Pyramids and the 2nd World War.

Sorry if I left something else out.:hugs:


This is definitely true. There are two types of trick innovations: You either have trick innovations that force companies to make new designs to accommodate the new trend, or they’re just innovations in tricks that no one else has thought to do. An example of the former would be when thumb grinds became a popular trick: suddenly yoyos were being graded in reviews on how well they could do thumb grinds, and companies started adjusting their yoyo designs to match the trend. Other trick types or play styles like moebious did not necessarily require major readjustments to how yoyos were made.

In a word, no, but most sports/hobbies experience periodic slow-downs of equipment innovation, and I suspect we might be looking at one of those times coming up in yoyoing. It could simply be because I don’t have many yoyos that were made in the last 1-2 years, but from what I’ve seen when I look at what is coming out, I get the feeling that many of the yoyo brands are falling into a sort of lockstep where they are producing yoyos of similar size, shape, weight distribution, and materials because X, Y, and Z characteristics are the things that seem to work best. This is not to say that all the new yoyos look the same, but a few years ago, it was much easier for me to tell different yoyo brands apart and many of them seemed to be pushing the boundaries in multiple directions, each going their own way. Today, there are a few recent trends of innovation, but the manufacturers seem to be much faster to produce yoyos that copy those trends instead of all going in their own directions. A reason they all went in their own directions, though, could simply be because they had strict patents on particular design features, like YoyoJam’s hybrid plastic body with metal rim designs, or YoyoFactory’s hubstacks. I could also just be way off the mark on this, so feel free to correct me.

Another thing I’m seeing is there is a bit more interest now in going back to responsive play. With any sport or hobby, there is always a tendency to look to build on what has been when the way ahead seems to come up short on new ideas. They take what was done before and try to apply what they’ve learned recently, essentially modernizing old ideas. I’m already seeing a couple of companies putting out yoyos that are made to be responsive, hearkening back to the old Cold Fusion GT or Custom Yoyo’s Chain Reactor, but they’ve been given some of the more modern innovations.

To bring it back to my first point (sorry for the length), we have to keep in mind that the type of innovation manufacturers want is different from the kind of innovation many players can make. Most players can only innovate a new trick from an old yoyo or maybe make some minor modifications to their old yoyo to enable that innovation, but manufacturers want the innovation to be in designs and equipment so that that players have to keep buying their products to keep up with the latest trends.


Yoyos are an industry/business like any other. The goal of yoyo companies is to sell yoyos. The approach taken swings from one end (innovation) to the other (exploitation of current trends) on a cyclic basis.

It’s like beer companies. A beer company sees that competitors are eating away at their market share by offering a me-too version of whatever is the current trend (light, dark, red, etc.) and so they concoct some new variant they can turn into the latest shiny thing to attract consumers (ice, low carb, etc.). If it takes off, then all the me-too copycats follow suit, establishing it as the latest trend, and eventually someone has to come out with something new again to reinvigorate their market share.

As long as there are buyers for yoyos, there will be companies who work hard to figure out how to separate them from their money. Sometimes that will mean jumping on the latest trend and getting a piece of that pie, and sometimes it will mean designing something new in the hopes of being the first to market, grabbing the biggest slice of the new pie.

The question is, how can such a niche industry foster a growing, or at least not-shrinking, customer base year after year in the face of indifference from the general public? I mean, it’s not like there’s anything in pop culture lately making yoyos the hot toy every kid simply must have. Yet somehow it has managed to remain relevant and vibrant enough to support all the boutique shops we have today. I find that pretty encouraging.


True, and I think you said that better than I did. I just hinted at it.

This is my great sadness. I’m in Ohio and I can honestly say, I’ve encountered VERY few people who like or care about yoyos, so I don’t even know anyone out here in flyover country to share or discuss with. I joined this community to find people to talk to about yoyos.

Anyway, I can think of a couple of things that set the yoyo community apart from other such niche industries that may help answer your question. Maybe you can help hone these better or provide more:

For one, the yoyo is what they call a “classic toy” that most people remember and probably tried at some point in their life, even if it never caught on for them (if I had a dollar for every time someone said “I could never get it to come back up”). This means it’s a toy (or sport if you prefer) that is on most people’s radar even if only barely, and you have multiple generations of people who have picked it up and kept it going. It’s become a staple of American culture that kendamas, astrojax and other small skill toys have not been able to fill nearly as well (perhaps fidget spinners will turn out to be an exception to this, since there has been such a craze about them… stay tuned?).

Second, the manufacturers have gotten a lot of help from the players to design each next generation of equipment so that they are always directly in line with the direction the hobby or industry is moving rather than either spitballing and hoping something sticks or simply slapping the player’s name on something they actually had no part in designing and hoping the celebrity endorsement sells. This is how most sports stay on the radar of the hobbyists. If they know that YoyoJam made the Speeder to help Mickey Suzuki be the Worlds champion twice in a row, maybe the same equipment can help Joe Average learn some of his moves.

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Where at in Ohio? I used to live in Toledo (live just over the border in Michigan now) and have the same problem.

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i mean yeah, like, yoyoing is such a strange thing that all of us just so happened to be really interested in. if you think about it, were all a bunch of kids playing with $70 toys on a string. its all just a weird thing to look at from another perspective, y’know?


I’m living near Dayton right now but I hope to move closer to Cincinnati soon.

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Well, when you put it that way…

Then again, I never was one to go the same way as everyone else around me, haha!

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The fact that we enjoy manipulating such a small object is very… I don’t really know.


Do certain yoyos make you better at yo-yoing or do they just give you the illusion of being better?

If a better player than myself is given the same yoyo as I am, which one of us will get the most out of the yoyo?

Is it really nonsense to expect a better player to push a yoyo closer to its limits than a lesser player?

Yep playing devils advocate here because I’ve never touched a yoyo that wasn’t more capable than I am. I limit the yoyo. However, some yoyos will allow me to be sloppier and not as smooth. They’re more forgiving and I may even find them more enjoyable due to this. I would guess/suggest that I might even experience more success with a lesser yoyo after playing with a more modern yoyo on occasion. Then I’d need to consider that although I made progress, was the progress due to using the more modern yoyo or was it the fact that I practiced yoyoing?



When it comes to the early stages of learning a complex skill, the most important priority is keeping the student encouraged and motivated to keep at it and not give up. Removing all sources of discouragement is paramount.

This is every bit as true for yoyoing as it is for, say, learning a musical instrument. In the beginning, acquiring basic skills with as little struggle as possible is more important than refinement of techniqe, which becomes more relevant after the student has reached an elementary level of proficiency. That’s why it is never a bad idea to equip the student the finest instrument they can reasonably afford, and better still if the instrument can ease the process of learning in the some way (a guitar with low action, or a yoyo with a centering bearing, etc.).

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Yoyoing is usually self taught, watching videos or hanging with friends. There are those of us who just don’t care to climb a flat mountain. We don’t want as many of the challenges removed or maybe any of the challenge. We are there for the challenge. Then there are those that don’t want that same amount of challenge or very little challenge at all, desires/needs are different. There’s no right or wrong for the group, just what’s right for the individual. Therefore, “it’s not the yoyo, it’s the yo-yoer.”

Whatever, time to move on.:point_right:


I agree with you on this one Skitrz!

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I am inclined to agree with you, skitrz. I, for one, got into yoyoing to challenge and stretch myself; to explore my own boundaries. Since we’re also bringing musical instruments into the mix, I used to play clarinet in school, and I was good enough that eventually I began looking for a more professional model (which means going from an instrument made of plastic and metal to wood and metal for a lot of woodwinds). I believed that my student model was a piece of garbage and that only the upgraded instrument could further my skills. One salesman in a music store checked my student model instrument and put his mouthpiece on it and proceeded to play a little ditty and did so with much more finesse than I had. In that moment, the thought crossed my mind that it was silly for me to expect such vast improvements in my playing ability just by upgrading my equipment and I started to wonder why I was looking to get a new instrument in the first place. A newbie to the game will smash up a CLYW Peak learning the basics of yo just as easily as they would a Replay.

That said, though, I think zslane has a valid point too. When I upgraded to a more professional clarinet, I found that the instrument was a bit easier to play and had a better sound as well, which then led me to wonder why I couldn’t have started on this higher quality instrument instead of having me honk on a plastic instrument for five years. Likewise, learning a trick is harder on a lower level plastic than a high quality metal yoyo, but once you learn the trick on the high quality yoyo, you can quickly get to a place where you can land it on any yoyo, just as skitrz said, so I think both play a role, but it seems to be more heavily weighted on the individual, their grit, and persistence. You can get a newbie a CLYW Peak, but if they don’t have the patience to learn or don’t make a connection to the hobby, that Peak will find itself rotting away in a closet as quickly as a Whip.

I REALLY like this question, but then I like these chicken or the egg discussions too. I think certain yoyos make learning certain types of tricks or styles of play easier, which I guess could be considered an illusion of being better, but it can also help you get better faster. Part of the reason I use the handle “yoyosampler” is because I think each yoyo has its own strengths and weaknesses and I like to sample as many of the different types of yoyos as I can. An obvious example of what I mean would be the advantage a Daydream, Cerberus, or Big Ben gave me when trying to learn to land trapeze moves more consistently or do Eli Hops because of their large size and catch zone, but when I was trying to learn Spirit Bomb, I found that these were a little clumsy around that second hop. I learned that trick more quickly with an undersized yoyo. So, in the give and take of equipment versus grit, I think both have an important role to play.


Very few people that I’ve ever met like to put every hobby they try on Nightmare Mode right from the start. Of course, for those few who do like that, I have a yoyo or two I could recommend to them that would surely frustrate them into a state of bliss. But for everyone else I feel I’d be doing them a great disservice if I didn’t nudge them in the direction of high quality yoyos that spin a long time and stay straight with minimal effort.

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I don’t like putting the hobby on nightmare mode either. I don’t think that was the point; but at the same time, I didn’t take up yoyos because I thought it would be easy. I took them up because it was a challenge I wanted to try. For my own experience, when I was a kid and wanted to take up yoyo, I didn’t even want to start with an auto-return/clutch yoyo. Later, I advanced much more quickly upon upgrading to a DM2 around 2010 than I ever did with a Turbo Bumble Bee GT and a Klutz yoyo book. That’s why I said you both have good and valid points on this matter.


Yeah, I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I want yoyoing to be easy. That would be boring. Honestly, I like the challenge of 1A play. But I’m also keenly aware of my frustration threshold. I kinda feel that string tricks are challenging enough on their own that I don’t need to be making the whole endeavor even harder by selecting an unforgiving throw. There’s a big difference between “I like a challenge,” and “I want to make this into a struggle,” and I just feel that temperamental yoyos have a tendency to turn the former into the latter, at least for beginners.


I saw a vid of a guy taking a Duncan Imperial out of the package and do one of the most amazing routines I have ever seen. Me? I can’t do much more than up and down with an Imperial. The shape feels weird to me. I fool around with harmonicas and I find myself doing better on my $45 Hohner than with the $6 Hohner because of the design / quality differences. I was given the YYF Horizon Ultra as a gift by someone here and that makes everything A LOT easier but I still practice with less pricey throws that are a little more difficult to do tricks with because I want to get better no matter WHAT I am throwing. I love yoyos that are full of forgiveness but I want to get to the level where forgiveness is not needed as much because I am throwing great and my plane-keeping is on point.

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