String Theory

This page contains everything you need to know about yoyo strings. You can either watch the videos, or read the text. The only section on this page that we could not quite put into words is the last section about string tension. It's better to watch the videos to learn the tricks for that.


String Theory

This page contains everything you need to know about yoyo strings. Click on each heading to expand it and see tips and videos giving step-by-step instructions.

Putting the string on the yoyo

There is no need to twist open the yoyo to do this. Instead, you will twist open the string. The entire string is actually one really long thin strand, folded double and twisted around itself. Find the end of the string that doesn't have a knot on. Pinch and untwist this end of the string for about 2 or 3 cm so the two strands become straight. Poke a finger in between the two string strands to separate them. Open this end of the string up into a big loop. Now you can easily continue to untwist the string until your loop is big enough to fit over once half of the yoyo. Slide the loop over and re-twist the string so the loop is closed. Try to make it nice and smooth so there are no bits sticking out.

There's a really neat video further down this page that shows exactly how to do this, plus how to adjust the string for your height.

Adjusting the string length

It's a good idea for shorter players to use shorter strings. This will help prevent the yoyo hitting the ground. Put the string onto the yoyo as described above. Let the yoyo gently rest on the ground between your feet. Pull the string tight, without lifting the yoyo off the ground. Place your one hand flat above your belly button, so the pinky finger is touching your belly button. Where your hand stops, at the index finger, is more or less the length you want the string to be from the ground. Make a fold in the string here. Tie a knot and cut off the access string.


You can experiment with different strings lengths as you progress, but generally this is a good place to start. Longer strings can allow for more complex tricks, while shorter strings make for faster movements. if the string is too short, it may be difficult to bind.

Making a split knot

Most strings come with a loop at the finger end, but this loop is likely not going to be the right size for your finger. Even if it is, is would be difficult to get it all the way to where it should sit on your finger. An adjustable slip knot makes it much easier to remove the string from your finger, and also means that it sits nice and tight and won't fall off as you play. Take the string coming down from the knot, and feed it through the loop at the end of the string. Put your finger through the new loop, and pull on the string until the loop closes around your finger.

Video: Putting the string on, adjusting the length, and making a slip knot

Here's a video showing you how to do the first three points. To see how to hold and throw the yoyo, refer to the video on the Getting Started page.

Which finger to attach the string to

You will use your dominant hand to throw the yoyo. This is the hand you usually write with. There are plenty of left handed players in the world. The string will go onto the middle digit of your middle finger. It is possible to put it in other places, but if you get used to playing with the string on the wrong finger or on the wrong place on the finger, it is difficult to unlearn it later. You will find that certain tricks are impossible to do if the string is not placed correctly.

Your finger will get sore in the beginning if you play a lot, but your skin will toughen up over time.

Winding up the yoyo

Now you just need to wind the string up, and you are ready to throw. If you are using a responsive or traditional yoyo, you can simply wind the string around the axis of the yoyo into the gap. Do this gently at first, with a little bit of slack in the string, in other words, don't pull the string tight. The string should start to grip onto the sides of the yoyo and start winding up as you move your hand around and around the yoyo. Once it does this, pull the string tighter as you keep going. This will help wind the string nice and tight around the yoyo, which is important to get a good spin once you throw. If the string is too loosely wrapped around the yoyo, the yoyo will not have power when you throw it, and it will stop spinning very quickly.

If you find that the string just spins around and around without winding, you probably have an unresponsive yoyo. To wind the string in this case, put one finger over the gap of the yoyo and do the first wind over your finger. Then move your finger out of the way just a little bit, and wind the rest of the string under your finger, into the gap of the yoyo. Your finger will keep the string in place and prevent it from turning around and around forever.

Here's a video showing four different basic techniques to wind up the yoyo string.

How to hold the yoyo

Once you have put the string on your finger, and the string is wound up all the way, place the yoyo in the palm of your hand, with your palm facing up. The string should be going from your middle finger over the top of the yoyo. If it is going into the bottom of the yoyo, you need to turn the yoyo upside down. If the string is going over the top of the yoyo, it will allow the yoyo to roll off your finger when you throw.

String tension

As you play, the string will often wind up tighter or looser. Winding up the yoyo by hand will also cause extra tension. If the string gets all twisted up like this, it makes it a lot harder to do your tricks, not to mention it looks terrible! Once you progress to slack tricks, you will notice those are almost impossible to do with incorrect string tension, so better to learn how to fix it right from the start.

There are many ways to fix the tension on the string. There are also different ways for responsive and unresponsive yoyos. Here is an introduction to string tension fixing using yoyo tricks.
  • Fixing string tension with a responsive yoyo
  • Fixing string tension with an unresponsive yoyo
Fixing string tension with a responsive yoyo
Fixing string tension with an unresponsive yoyo

What's Next?

If you haven't already done so, you are definitely ready to learn some tricks now! Move on to the next page, choose from: