Yo-yo beginner to Yo-yo pro

In todays post we unravel the very interesting history of the Yo-yo, help you beginners on your journey to turning pro and explore the different types of Yo-yo available to you. Here at Flames ‘N Games we have a premium selection of professionals Yo-yos and Yo-yo accessories for users of all abilities, so why not take a peek?

Around the world. History of the Yo-yo.

To say the Yo-yo has an interesting past would be an understatement. Its roots lie in Ancient China but since its arrival the Yo-yo’s presence has been felt throughout history in Greece, Egypt, the Philippines, India, France, Germany, England and even in the depths of space. Adopting a new identity everywhere it went. Yo-yos have been a childs toy sacrificed to ancient Greek gods, the must have symbol of the aristocracy, a companion to those running from a peasant uprising, a president’s plaything and a distraction for someone on their way to the guillotine.

L-R: President Nixon 1974, Greek vase from the 5th century BC, General Lafayatte 1780s, an early Greek clay Yo-yo, 1791 illustration, 1862 illustration.

Whilst its origins can’t be pinpointed exactly it’s widely believed that the Yo-yo originated in China and spread from there. Renderings of Yo-yo type toys have even been found in the Egyptian pyramids. The earliest historical mention of a Yo-yo is in Ancient Greek pottery from 500 B.C. Vases depicted these early versions made from clay, wood or metal being played with by children. It was custom that old toys would be offered to gods as a form of growing up ritual. Its thought that the clay versions were for this purpose.

The Yo-yo made its way to France during the French Revolution, by way of the upper classes. It was at this time that many members of the French aristocracy fled the country as their way of life was at threat from peasant uprisings. For the unfortunate nobles who were sent to the guillotine their glass and ivory Yo-yos acted as stress relievers to release the tension of their soon to be end.

In England, the Yo-yo was known by the French term ‘Bandalore’ and eventually as a ‘Quiz’. In 1791 a print depicting a young George IV playing with his Bandalore caught England’s attention and made the yo-yo the must have toy for the gentility and people of fashion. Its popularity akin to the playground crazes of today.

The Yo-yo or Improved Bandalore as it had become known arrived in the United States in the mid 1800’s in the form of a patent for a modernised yo-yo toy with a weighted rim. Over the next 50 years many patents were published for similar toys utilising a new return wheel function that allowed the toy to return to the user. In 1916 an article exploring Filipino toys branded the toy as a Yo-yo, the Filipino word for ‘come, come’ or ‘to return’.

Whilst the yo-yo was travelling the world, the people of the Philippines had been hard at work making refined, intricately carved wooden Yo-yos and becoming rather skilled with them. In the 1920s, native Filipino, a young Pedro Flores travelled to the United States bringing with him a new style of Yo-yo. This new style utilised a loop around the axle instead of a knot which allowed the Yo-yo to be able to ‘sleep’ at the end of its string.

Flores’ invention was extraordinarily popular, he toured with the product entertaining crowds with his skills. In the late 1920’s, businessman Donald F. Duncan Sr. witnessed one of Flores’ shows and so convinced of its popularity he purchased the idea of the Yo-yo and Flores’ company. It was from this moment that the Duncan Toys Company began producing Yo-yo’s, a company that’s has endured till today.  

L-R: Pedro Flores portrait, Restringing Yo-yos

That’s the history lesson done. As you can see the Yo-yo isn’t just a playground toy, by using a Yo-yo you’re joining the long line of people throughout history who have used one.  Now isn’t it about time we got to grips with how to use it?

Getting Started

Once you have your Yo-yo you’re ready to start learning some tricks. The basic motion of up and down is easy and intuitive enough thanks to gravity so out first step is finding a move/trick to learn that uses this motion. However our first priority is learning how to launch the Yo-yo. Check out this great video below which covers all the important steps you need to cover as a beginner, everything from how to hold it, winding the Yo-yo string, how to make the Yo-yo return and dealing with twisted string.

Get to grips with First Yo-yo’s beginner guide

You can learn tricks from multiple places. As the Yo-yo has a huge following its community is very welcoming to new users and fortunately provide countless tutorials across the internet. One of our favourite resources is https://yoyotricks.com/, which covers everything from beginner to the most advanced tricks. There are also a wide variety of books to buy on the sport, produced by some of the biggest brands in Yo-yooing. Now you’ve got the moves locked down its time to explore the different types of Yo-yos available.

Types of Yo-yo

Yo-yos today can be broken into five different ‘play styles’ relating to their abilities and strengths. Outside of these styles you can find them made from multiple materials and in different shapes.

Classification of play  

Before choosing a Yo-yo its important to decide whether it’ll suit the play style you prefer. Some Yo-yos can be used for multiple styles.  

1A Yo-yo

1A Yo- yo Advanced Yo-Yo– These are the next step in Yo-yos. They’re made from high quality materials and are able to out perform more basic Yo-yos, perfect for those looking to step up their Yo-yo game. A great model would be the Infinity Blaze Pro Ball Bearing Yo Yo.

2A Yo-yo

2A Yo- yo Looping- This technique emphasizes keeping the body of the Yo-yo in constant motion, without the Yo-yo sleeping. The weight is concentrated in the Yo-yos centre so it can easily rotate around the axis without its mass creating resistance. A great choice would be the Henry’s Tiger Snake Yo-Yo.

3A Yo-yo

3A Yo- yo Two handed- This style of play uses two Yo-yos, one in each hand. This allows the user to operate an incredible array of mesmerising tricks. The Duncan Strix Yo-Yo is an excellent 3a Yo-yo.

4A Yo-yo

4A Yo- yo Offstring Yo-yo– These Yo-yo’s don’t have attached string, instead of an up and down movement they are able to move freely, being manipulated by bounces or rolls off the string thats held between the fingers of the user. They are utilised in a similar way to Diabolos but as they’re much smaller they can do a wide range of up close tricks, balances and spins. These require an incredible amount of dexterity and skill to master but look fantastic. Suitable for this would be the Infinity Atlas Moth Yo-Yo.

5A Yo-yo

5A Yo- yo Counterweight or Freehand Yo-yo– 5A style involves using the finger loop of the string in the tricks, the finger loop will usually have some form of counterweight instead of being tied to the users hand. This allows the string loop to be swung beneath the Yo-yo and thrown, adding a whole new dimension to your play. Our recommendation is the Duncan Metal Drifter Yo-Yo.

Yo-yo shape


Butterfly The wide, flared shape allows users to land string tricks easier. Within Butterfly there are many variations that offer different benefits.

Classic (Imperial)- This traditional shape is the classic Yo-yo most people know and love. The elliptical shape is separated by a thin gap.

Raider- The most popular shape for 2A styles of play. Raiders can also be used for string tricks making them an all rounder.

Wrapping up

Whether you’re a seasoned Yo-yoer or you’re yet to take your first spin its easy to see why the Yo-yo has such enduring popularity. Its embraced people in the furthest reaches of the globe and been passed through countless time periods and now it comes to you. So go out there and make history.

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