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15 Clever Yo-Yo Tricks for All Skill Levels

Regardless of your age, everyone probably remembers receiving a yo-yo as a gift at some point in their childhood. You might picture the classic red plastic Duncan yo-yo, but there are also wooden and even aluminum options, and they come in a variety of designs too. Some yo-yos are best for beginners while others like this Green Merlin professional responsive trick yo-yo are best handled by more advanced yo-yo masters. Ready to get started? We’ve rounded up the best yo-yo tricks for all skill levels!

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Benefits of Learning Yo-Yo Tricks

Yo-yos have a vast history, likely originating in ancient Greece or perhaps even earlier in China. They didn’t take hold in the United States until the mid-nineteenth century. Duncan’s version of the yo-yo was even inducted into the Strong National Museum of Play. Besides being fun, yo-yos have plenty of educational benefits too, such as:

  • Builds social skills
  • Teaches perseverance
  • Develops presentation skills
  • Enhances creativity
  • Builds confidence
  • Improves fine motor skills
  • Improves hand-eye coordination

Beginner Yo-Yo Throws

1. Breakaway

  1. Begin by holding the yo-yo in your hand and bending your arm as if you are showing off a muscle.
  2. Swing your arm while releasing the yo-yo and bringing your elbow down quickly. This should make the yo-yo move out and down.
  3. Swing the yo-yo in front, opposite your body, and then let it hang midair at the end of the string for less than a second. As the yo-yo slows down, pull on the string and draw the yo-yo back to you.

2. Sleeper Throw

This throw is a jumping-off point for many yo-yo tricks.

  1. To begin, hold your yo-yo hand out in front of you with your palm facing upward.
  2. Using a whipping motion, grab the yo-yo and flick it sharply toward the ground. This should cause the yo-yo to stay down spinning at the end of the string.
  3. While the yo-yo is spinning, turn your yo-yo hand over with the palm facing down. With the correct tension, the yo-yo should spin at the end for a few seconds.
  4. Give the string a quick jerk that results in the yo-yo returning quickly to your hand.

Tip: Make sure the string comes off toward the top and front of the yo-yo.

Easy Yo-Yo Tricks

3. Walk the Dog

  1. Throw a fast sleeper.
  2. Swing the yo-yo forward slightly, letting it touch the ground lightly. Let the yo-yo’s spinning motion gently pull it across the floor.
  3. Give the yo-yo a slight tug before the yo-yo stops spinning so the doggie will come back to your hand.

4. Gravity Pull

When you think of playing with a yo-yo, you probably think about this classic trick.

  1. Begin by holding the yo-yo in your yo-yo hand in front of you. Your palm should be down just above your waist.
  2. Open your hand and release the yo-yo toward the ground.
  3. Right when the yo-yo reaches the end of it’s unwinding, just before it hits the floor, give it a firm upward jerk.

This video includes three yo-yo tricks that are easy enough for beginners. Below are descriptions of the tricks along with the times in the video when the tutorial for each starts and ends.

5. The Pinwheel (0:23 – 0:45)

  1. Throw the yo-yo in a fast sleeper.
  2. Grab the string about two-thirds of the way down using the thumb and middle finger of your free hand.
  3. Move the free hand up and to the side away from your body while simultaneously moving your hand that is holding the yo-yo down.
  4. Swing the yo-yo in several pinwheel circles.
  5. Finally, finish the final turn by throwing the yo-yo forward and up while releasing the string with both hands. Catch the yo-yo in your hand, palm facing upward.

6. Brain Twister (0:46 – 1:05)

  1. Throw a very fast sleeper and then take your index finger on your free hand and push it forward into the string.
  2. Bring your yo-yo hand down and then thread the string into the notch of the yo-yo, creating a double string.
  3. Pull the double string upward and toward you using your yo-yo finger. Then, take your free hand and push it forward and down. This should leave the yo-yo moving upward and then quickly swinging away from you.
  4. Move your yo-yo hand toward you while also pushing your other index finger out in front of you. This will result in the yo-yo’s spinning direction reversing.  

7. Rock the Cradle (1:06 – 1:24)

  1. Begin with a sleeper. While the yo-yo is spinning, put your free hand halfway down the string. Be sure to keep your palm facing toward your body with the string between your body and hand.
  2. Next, take the yo-yo hand and grab the string about 3 inches above the yo-yo by moving it forward and down.
  3. Then, put the yo-yo hand back above your free hand, moving away from the body and up.
  4. Finally, move your free hand palm down with your fingers pointing forward, creating the cradle. Rock the yo-yo back and forth with your yo-yo hand.

8. Elevator

  1. Throw a nice hard sleeper.
  2. Push right into the string.
  3. Lift the yo-yo up and you want to put it on the string just above your yo-yo finger.
  4. Finally, make the yo-yo climb the string by pulling your hands apart.

9. Around the Corner

  1. First, throw a hard sleeper.
  2. Then, swing the string of the yo-yo behind the upper part of your yo-yo arm. The yo-yo should hang behind you over your yo-yo arm, just above the elbow.
  3. Next, reach your yo-yo hand down and grab the string right above the spinning yo-yo with the thumb and index fingers of your yo-yo hand.
  4. Quickly jerk the yo-yo upward. It should go up over the top of your arm as it winds up.
  5. The yo-yo should continue downward toward the ground before you retrieve it as if you are doing a gravity trick.
  6. Finally, while the yo-yo is spinning quickly, tug the string and bring the yo-yo home.

10. Man on the Flying Trapeze

  1. Begin with a side mount.
  2. Once the yo-yo is mounted on the string, your goal is to have three even lengths of string before you as it wraps back and forth.
  3. With your hands close together, swing the yo-yo back and forth to create the trapeze.

Tips: You can try throwing a breakaway into a side mount to create more strength. Also, be sure you’re landing the side mount close to your non-dominant finger for better aim.

11. Double or Nothing

This trick uses a move and a trick that you have already learned earlier on our list—the breakaway and the trapeze.

  1. Begin with a breakaway, letting the yo-yo swing over to your free hand.
  2. Let the index finger of your free hand go into the path of the string and then let the yo-yo swing around it. Let the yo-yo continue upward from there.
  3. Once it comes around, give it a bit of string by moving your hands closer together.
  4. Once it reaches the other side, let it continue around your throw-hand index finger without giving it anymore slack.
  5. Let the yo-yo go back up again and then once more around the index finger of your free hand.
  6. Eventually it should land on the string in a small trapeze.

12. Eiffel Tower

  1. Begin by making an L with your yo-yo hand. The string should be over your thumb.
  2. Make a slingshot by grabbing the string with your free hand and pulling it backward toward you.
  3. Put your free hand through the loop you’ve created in step 2.
  4. Then, pinch the string coming off the yo-yo between the middle and ring fingers of your free hand.
  5. Next, pull that one single string through the loop.
  6. Then, keep your yo-yo hand in an L formation as you take that hand and move it down and toward yourself.
  7. Once you’ve moved your yo-yo hand as outlined in step 6, take the pointer and middle finger of the yo-yo hand and pinch the string.
  8. Finally, turn it to actually display the Eiffel Tower shape.

13. Three-Leaf Clover Trick

  1. First, throw a vertical loop up and above your head.
  2. Then, as the yo-yo comes back to you, send it out straight in front of you.
  3. Next, as the yo-yo comes back, send it out again, this time angling it down toward the throw.
  4. Finally, catch it as it comes back up.

This video includes two yo-yo tricks that are a bit more difficult than some of the others on our list. Word of warning: You’ll want to be wearing just the right pants for these tricks! They may look easy, but they are trickier than they appear. Below are descriptions of the tricks along with the times in the video when the tutorial for each starts and ends.

14. Dog Bite (0:50 – 1:17)

  1. Start by throwing a fast sleeper.
  2. Then, with your feet spread wide apart, swing the yo-yo between your legs below the knee.
  3. Finally, jerk the string so that the yo-yo sticks to the fabric of the underside of your pants, essentially biting your leg.

15. Bank Deposit (1:21 – 1:53)

  1. Before beginning, pull your left pant pocket open widely.
  2. Then, throw a hard sleeper, propelling the yo-yo between your legs.
  3. Finally, shoot for getting the yo-yo to swing around your leg and into your pant pocket.

Looking for ways to add more magic in the classroom? Try these 25 Easy Magic Tricks That Will Amaze and Surprise Everyone.

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