A-Z of Summer: Yo-yo

Just a simple spool attached to a length of string in the right hands can be an amazing toy when you master some of the tricks

The gravity-pull
The first thing you should learn is the ‘gravity-pull’ the classic up and down manoeuvre; the one most people think of when you say yo-yo
Step 1: Hold the yo-yo in your hand in front of you, palm down, slightly above your waist. Open your hand and let the yo-yo unroll toward the ground.
Step 2: At the precise moment that the yo-yo reaches the end of its unwinding, near the floor, give a firm upward jerk with your hand and the yo-yo will wind up and return to your hand.
Try not to use your free hand to assist in catching the yo-yo but catch it with the same hand that drops it.

The throw-down
Many yo-yo tricks begin with the simple ‘throw-down’ maneuver, or a variation of it. If you do not get it right the first few times, don't panic. All it takes is a bit of practice.
Step 1: Hold your hand out in front of you, palm up. Stand the yo-yo on its edge, placing it between your thumb and middle finger, in line with your shoulder. The string should curl up over the top of the yo-yo, ready to flow out in front of you.
Step 2: With a flick of the wrist, whip the yo-yo to the ground in a firm, overhand motion. Be sure to throw the yo-yo straight down. Don't let it lean to one side or the other.
When the yo-yo reaches the end of the string, give a slight tug on the string, and the yo-yo will return home.

The sleeper
Now that you've learned the gravity pull and the throw down you’re ready to learn the most important yo-yo trick of all -- the Sleeper. This trick is basically a delayed version of the up-and-down gravity pull.
Step 1: The initial motion is precisely the same as what is used in the Throw Down. Hold your yo-yo hand out in front of you with the palm facing up. Remember, the string should come off toward the top and front of the yo-yo.
Step 2: With a whipping motion, similar to that used when throwing a fastball, grab the yo-yo and flick it sharply toward the ground. It should stay down -- spinning -- at the end of the string.
Step 3: While the yo-yo is spinning, turn your yo-yo hand over, palm facing down. If the string tension is correct, the yo-yo should spin at the end of the string for a few seconds. Then give the string a jerk and the yo-yo should quickly return to your hand.
If the yo-yo spins aimlessly at the bottom of the string and refuses to come up, this means the string is too loose.

Walk the dog
Step 1: To take your "doggie" for a walk, start by throwing a fast sleeper
Step 2: Swing the yo-yo slightly forward and set it lightly on the ground. Let its spinning motion gently pull it along the ground. The yo-yo may snap back to your hand, but keep trying.
Step 3: Before the yo-yo stops spinning, give a slight tug, and the "doggie" will return to your hand.

Rock the Baby
Probably the most popular trick of all time and best of all, it's both easy and fun to perform.
Step 1: Begin by throwing a sleeper; lift your yo-yo hand up until it is slightly above your head
Step 2: Put your free hand out in front of the yo-yo string, fingers stretched apart and the palm facing your body, between the string and your body. As you do this, catch the string about one-third of the way down with the pinky and the tip of the thumb of your free hand.
Step 3: Then grab the string with your yo-yo hand several inches above the yo-yo.
Step 4: In the same motion, bring your yo-yo hand up above your free hand, forming the triangular-shaped cradle. If you've constructed a cradle correctly, the yo-yo will neatly hang in the middle of the triangle of string you've formed between your two hands.

Now "rock the baby" to sleep by swinging the spinning yo-yo back and forth in the "cradle."
Step 5: Give the yo-yo a jerk, let go of the string, and the yo-yo will snap back to your hand.
To become a yo-yo master will take a bit of practice to start with but once you get the hang of a few simple tricks you’ll be adding to your repertoire in no time!