Yo-yoing has changed a lot since the previous century. Walking the Dog and rocking the baby are now considered very basic tricks. With a modern yoyo the number of tricks are infinite and most players are creating their own tricks now. It all changed when ball bearings were introduced inside the yoyo in the late 90’s. With the string sitting around the bearing, it no longer touches the axle. This means less friction, which in turn means a longer spin time. With time, the shape of the yoyo started to change to accommodate the increasingly complex tricks. These changes set the stage for a whole new game.
Modern = Unresponsive
Until around 2004, nearly all yoyos were responsive. The old Coke and Sprite yoyos were responsive, which means they would return to your hand with a slight tug on the string. With those yoyos, it used to be an art just to get it to sleep (spin at the bottom of the string). Modern yoyos have ball bearings so the yoyo can sleep easily in order to do string tricks.
The YoyoFactory Loop 360 is our only responsive yoyo at the moment. Although it has a bearing in, it will still climb back up the string when tugged. This is essential for looping tricks (loop-the-loop). In today’s competitions, responsive yoyos are used exclusively for looping tricks. On a practical note, it is easier to play with than an unresponsive yoyo, so we recommend it for young children or people who just want to play occasionally and learn a few basic tricks.
For those who want to get serious about yo-yoing, unresponsive is where it is all happening! An unresponsive yoyo does not climb back up the string when you tug on it. The gap is too wide for the string to catch grip and wind up. The yoyo is returned to the hand with a trick called the “bind”. It involves throwing a loop of string into the gap so that the layers of string grip onto the response system and cause the yoyo to wind up. For anyone 8 years and older, this trick can be learned in under half an hour. Some people get it in less than 5 minutes when we teach them. Because of the wider gap, the yoyo not only spins a lot longer, but it allows the player to put multiple layers of string into the gap without the yoyo returning to the hand. This means that there is an unlimited amount of tricks to be invented! If you can imagine it with a yoyo, you can do it! People have been playing like this for over ten years now and they keep coming up with new innovative tricks every single day. It is this quality of unresponsive yoyos that allows players to express their unique style and creativity through yo-yoing, and that can keep an enthusiast entertained for a lifetime.
Plastic or Metal?
In the beginning, everybody will hit the yoyo of the floor from time to time. This is normal. The great thing about plastic yoyos is that they can take a bit of a beating. They are cheaper as well, so you don’t have to feel so bad when they do get damaged. It also hurts less, should the spinning yoyo find its way into your face. For these reasons, we usually recommend plastic yoyos for beginners. They perform just as well with beginner and intermediate tricks as the metals. Our plastics of choice is the Replay Pro by Yoyofactory or the Magicyoyo Skyva.
Metal yoyos are usually more stable and have longer spin times than plastics. They have a nicer feel and sound, and should play smooth without any vibration. The more advanced metals are also more forgiving and allow the player to make more mistakes before they stop spinning. They are more costly than plastics though, and they get damaged very easily when played on hard surfaces such as concrete or tiles. It is perfectly fine to buy a metal yoyo for your first yoyo, but in our opinion, you can get the best performance from a metal yoyo if you have a little more experience. If you do want to start with a metal yoyo, we recommend the Yoyofficer Kilter or Yoyofactory Boss.
Playing yoyo improves coordination, concentration, confidence, patience, and gives a real sense of accomplishment. We have seen children with low confidence, kids with learning and concentration difficulties, and even adults blossom through the creative outlet of yo-yoing. It can be a great conversation starter or a popular party trick, but the effects on any player’s confidence is what really sets it apart from other toys. Parents all over South Africa are supporting the yo-yo movement, because it is keeping their children away from the ever-present screens, and keeping them busy constructively. It’s also a superb stress reliever once you get the hang of it.
But the best thing about yoyos is the community behind it. Yoyo players from all over the world are friendly, fun, and adventurous. We’ve been overseas and were accepted into the European yoyo community with open arms. In Africa our community is still small, but every bit as passionate and open-hearted as our overseas brothers and sisters, and we would LOVE to help you learn to play yoyo!
What’s in it for (all of) us?
Our dream is to one day have a large yoyo community such as the ones on every other continent (except Antarctica) and help to put Africa on the map in the yoyo world. We want to create an environment where people of all ages and all walks of life meet regularly at regional and national events to network, learn, perform, have a laugh and celebrate each other’s success. Learning together with like-minded people is the best and most fun way to learn. Sure, yo-yoing alone is awesome too, but there is really nothing more rewarding than belonging to a supportive community and sharing your journey with others who are eager to share their knowledge and help each other improve. We therefore invite each and every one of you to keep in contact with us and join us at one of our Yoyo Cape Town meet-ups if you live in Cape Town. If not, perhaps you can start yoyo meetings in your own city.