The yo-yo began life as an adult’s play toy, and was first popularised in the 1920s. Since then, it has evolved and spread across the globe, engaging people of all ages. Learn more about the history of this fascinating toy, along with all the best yo-yo tricks implemented by professionals.
History and background
Evidence suggests that the Greeks were familiar with the yo-yo in 500BC. They constructed yo-yo toys from wood, metal or terra cotta, and used them as ceremonial offerings as well as in casual play. However, it is widely accepted that the term “yo yo” originated in the Philippines. In the northern Philippine Ilokano language, it literally translates as “come come” or “return”. In recent decades, yo-yo contests have steadily attracted more attention. With the development of yo-yo technology, competitors are constantly raising the bar when it comes to tricks.
Sleeping This is one of the most common yo-yo tricks, easily mastered by amateurs as well as professionals. The yo-yo remains spinning at the end of an uncoiled string. Essential as the basis for most other tricks, sleeping is one of the required fundamentals in any yo-yo contest. The current sleeping record using a traditional fixed axle yo-yo is only under four minutes. Using a modern transaxle yo-yo, the record stands over 21 minutes. Looping Looping is more common in higher level performers. The body of the yo-yo must be in constant motion, without the use of aforementioned sleeping. Most looping yo-yos are specialised for the trick, implementing a concentrated weight at the core of the body. This prevents resistance to rotation about the string’s axis. Off-string This technique involves the launching of the yo-yo body into the air, to be caught again on the string. Yo-yos designed for off-string performances are easy to spot due to their characteristic flared edges and rubber lining. Their design aids the landing whilst minimising damage, should the trick go wrong. Freehand Freehand tricks are usually only attempted by the most able performers. The string is not attached to the user’s hand, but to a counterweight. The counterweight can be thrown between hands, adding yet another element to the performance. Freehand tricks are rapidly increasing in popularity, and potentially mark the next generation of yo-yos.