Yoyo tutorial

How to make a Yoyo Tutorial

Teaching strangers is a unique activity. “I have this skill that in some form makes me stand out from others, let me teach it to you so I become less unique.”  At the same time it is the foundation of human civilization.  If the first pre-human to think of using a rock as a tool didn’t share the idea, where would we be?

The internet has repeatedly changed the way yoyo was taught.  Previous to this you learned yoyo tricks either from an actual human in front of you, a mail order VHS (and later DVD) or book that had diagrams of how to do yoyo tricks.  The last on this list often required you to practically learn a new language!  I recently was reminded of a book called “The Yonomicon” that was one of the better examples of this.  Unlike the bulk of the “Learn to Yoyo” books, It broken down some of the more advanced tricks of it’s era rather than the same old couple dozen tricks.

What this meant was that it was pretty easy to get access to the beginner tricks.  You could buy a book (or many beginner yoyos came with a small booklet) that could teach you the basics, but from there you had to hunt, meet people or innovate your own tricks.  The internet took this to a new level.  Instead of being stuck with whatever you could get your hands on for learning, you could dial up and look on a website!  As soon as the technology allowed for it, yoyo enthusiasts started finding ways to use it to share tricks.  Websites like (sector Y and …) used drawn diagrams to indicate which finger does what in a step by step breakdown.  As download speeds became faster (and it took less than 5 minutes for your dial up modem to load a page with a couple images on it) people started uploading photographs of hands doing the tricks, again, step by step so it was easy to follow. The key through all of this was a step by step breakdown that gave the learner a series of points of reference or goals to aim for.

The logical extension of all of this came when the ability to host videos on a website became readily available.  Andre Boulay at yoyoexpert.com was one of the first to really work with this on a level that gave mass access.  He put together a series of sets of tricks that worked the player from the beginning to the to tier difficulty for the day. Others followed, came and went.  When I was getting into yoyo rethinkyoyo.com was a fantastic resource.  Currently the top of the game is yoyotricks.com.  With high end video equipment and professionally set up filming space they have created (and continue) to create some of the most well thought out tutorials and instructional videos.

So how to create a tutorial.  There are a few methods. 

1. Yoyoexpert’s tutorials were originally a single take, face on shot with Andre talking through the trick, breaking it down into learnable pieces.  This was coupled with a transcript of each video that you could read.  I liked the transcript because my partner at the time was getting really tired of hearing “First you throw a really strong sleeper...”

2. Rethinkyoyo shot from multiple angles and used slow motion to really give you time to catch all the little elements.  Instead of a verbal explanation his tricks were explained in written form in the video.

3. Yoyotricks.com does a mix of the two.  Verbal breakdown with slow motion and multiple angles (similar to the style I use for my tutorials).

4. Slow motion tricks.  This doesn’t really count as a tutorial, but get’s called such.  In this format a player films the trick at speed, then uploads it slowed down to 1/2 or 1/4 speed. There is no actual breakdown or instruction, just a slow motion video of a single trick.

I suspect everyone has a preference for how they learn.  I prefer having someone explaining it, and a point of view angle always helps with those complicated string wraps and hit.  I know there are many players who really only need a slow motion breakdown to figure out a trick. 

What’s your style?


How do you build a yoyo combo?


I think there are a lot of ways to build a yoyo combo.How do you do it?

       I’m a musician and a songwriter.  I’ve also been through the university grind of doing a history degree.  The result is that my brain very much wants a theme and a pattern and some sort of point to anything I’m doing.  In yoyo this translates into needing to have a theme to build a combo around.  I often will start with an element, then try to weave other elements in and out that are similar in style.  If it starts with short sharp movements then that will be the pattern for the combo.  If it starts with slack, I’ll have slack elements patterned in. I think this has the benefit of making for interesting combos and keeping my combos from looking the same.  The downside is that I have a lot of ‘tricks’ that aren’t complete because they didn’t work into a theme.

      I also rarely make combos with intent.  I can’t sit down and decided to make one.  My songwriting has always been like that.  I call it a “Drive by Muse-ing”.  Some artists have a Muse that whispers in their ear constantly giving them ideas.  Mine flies by, dumps a piece of art in my head and then continues on.  Songs come out of me quickly in a sitting.  Yoyo combos aren’t quite that abrupt.  The start is, I’ll be playing and all of a sudden it’s creation time and I have to go with it.  I’ll get part way into a combo in a burst, then spend a couple weeks slowly puzzling through the next steps.  Again, I can’t just decided to finish, I’ve got to pull out the yoyo, try for a bit, then put it away and let my brain work on it.  Then randomly the next element will happen.

      Invariably I get stumped.  The combo could finish, but it doesn’t feel right ending there.  So I move on and start making a new combo.  Somewhere along the way the 2nd one merges with the first one and it turns out they were meant to be together. The combo at 1:15 in this video is a great example.  It’s actually 3 combos that eventually just merged into one. 


      What really frustrates me is how many tricks I never finish.  Sometimes my muse flies by and drops half a combo, then never comes back with the rest.  I guess that’s par for the course though.  I’ve got a stack of about 200 pages of song lyrics that never went anywhere as well so I guess it’s just how my brain works.

What about you?

At one point I did start making a series on this topic, and as with so many projects I lost track of it, but here are the videos I did make!  I’ve also got a series of quick elements you can build into combos under the playlist “1 take tutorials”

 How to build a Combo

1 Take tutorials


What trick do I learn next?

“What trick should I Learn next?”

      This is both the easiest and the hardest question.  The easy answer is ‘any trick you don’t already know’.  The hard answer is find what moves or inspires you.

      I teach yoyo.  I do many other things in the yoyo world, but first and foremost I teach, it’s who I am.  I haven’t been on top of making tutorials lately, as injuries and chronic pain have limited my yoyoing time and as a result I’m not creating and perfecting new material often enough.  I do still attend the Vancouver Yoyo club and teach there, as well as my school yoyo club

      When a kid asks me the question, generally I answer it with one of my own “What do you know?  What is the hardest thing you can do?”  The next thing is generally either an evolution of that trick (from elevator to brain twister, from Houdini mount to soiled panties), or a lateral move (you know cold fusion?  How about Spirit bomb, it’s time to get your wrist mount on).

       What I really run into as a challenge when faced with that question is my memory. I have both learned and created hundreds of tricks in my 8 years yoyoing and forgotten almost all of them.  What always makes me laugh is when a kid names one of my tricks and asks me to help them with it.  I have to pull up my website and find my own tutorial and watch it to quickly re-learn the trick!

      How do you answer this question?  Do you have a go-to trick list you keep in your head?  A single trick you teach everyone? (When I joined the Vancouver Yoyo club 8 years ago, Gary Li forced everyone to learn “Soiled Panties” no matter how noob they were).

I’ve been doing a daily series of unedited simple element tutorials.  Here are a couple, check out the “1 take tutorials” playlist for all of them!


Happy teaching!