Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for best yo-yos

Simple toys often offer kids the most. For instance, a yo-yo can get children away from their screens and help them develop fine motor skills, have better hand-eye coordination, increase their confidence, and help them learn to socialize.

A quality yo-yo is well-built, so it can endure the occasional floor tap. It’s sized to the player’s height and has features the user desires — modern yo-yos can have everything from lights to auto-return technology. The right yo-yo should also have a fun design that lets the user express their inner flair.

If you never realized there were so many options available when picking a yo-yo, it might help to read through a thorough guide on the topic. Doing this lets you quickly and easily learn what to look for when shopping for a yo-yo. Once you understand all the features a modern yo-yo can have, peruse a shortlist of the top models to familiarize yourself with what’s available.

To untwist a yo-yo string, simply hold the yo-yo in one hand and let the string hang free. Unless it’s knotted, it will untwist on its own.

How to buy the best yo-yo

How does a yo-yo work?

When a yo-yo is wound up and in your hand, it’s filled with potential energy. The instant you drop or throw that yo-yo down, that potential energy turns into kinetic energy. If the string is tied or affixed securely to the yo-yo’s axle, once it reaches the bottom of its descent, that energy is enough to bring the yo-yo back into your hand.

Most modern yo-yos, however, are not tied securely to the string. When they get to the bottom, they stay there, spinning without coming back up. This lets the player perform tricks. To get the spinning yo-yo to return, there needs to be a little slack in the string. When the player dips their hand just a little, this gives the yo-yo the slack it needs to rise back up. This puts the player in full control of when the yo-yo returns, making it possible to perform a wide variety of tricks.

Yo-yo shapes

There are three different yo-yo shapes: imperial, butterfly, and modified. Each type has different pros and cons.

Imperial (classic) yo-yo: This is the traditional shape. It features two pieces that look vaguely like the tops of mushrooms sandwiched together with the string in the middle. What makes this type of yo-yo stand out is the flat inside walls. While this type is a good all-around yo-yo, the narrow opening can make it harder to perform tricks that depend on catching the yo-yo on the string.

Butterfly yo-yo: The butterfly yo-yo has a wide flare in the middle that somewhat resembles butterfly wings. This type of yo-yo was designed to shine on string tricks — the wide gap in the center makes it much easier to catch the yo-yo on the string.

Modified yo-yo: This type of yo-yo is midway between the classic yo-yo and the butterfly yo-yo. It only features a slightly wider gap, but the inside edges are rounded to make it easier to catch the string. This is considered the best all-around yo-yo by many because it can do a little bit of everything.

If your yo-yo string is too long, you can cut it and tie a new slipknot.


What features make yo-yos stand out?


You can get a yo-yo that’s made of plastic, wood, or metal.

Plastic: Plastic is by far the most flexible material. It can be manufactured in any shape or color. It’s lightweight and can be inexpensive, though the type of axle the yo-yo has can raise the price significantly.

Wood: Wood is a little pricier than plastic, but since wooden yo-yos have basic axles, it keeps them in a comfortable price zone. The classic look of wood impresses and it’s a good way to go if you want to stick with tradition, but you won’t find a wooden yo-yo that has advanced features for modern tricks.

Metal: Metal is the most expensive yo-yo material. These are the heaviest yo-yos, so they tend to have better spin, which makes them ideal for many tricks. They’re best for advanced users, however, and the heavier weight means you must use more caution when playing — if the string breaks or you misjudge the proximity of your surroundings, a metal yo-yo will do more damage to anything it hits.


At one point, the axle was just where the string connected to the yo-yo. Models with basic axles are still very popular and you can perform a lot of tricks with them. However, a modern axle is a high-tech part of the yo-yo. It can feature ball bearings or a sleeve that allows the yo-yo to spin longer. Additionally, an axle may have a clutch or another design that keeps it spinning until certain conditions are met. Once those conditions are met, the yo-yo automatically returns to your hand.


The extra features on a yo-yo are anything that impacts its aesthetics, not its functionality. This can include a fun design, a glow-in-the-dark shell, lights, colored string, additional strings, a maintenance kit, and more.


In general, having a smaller yo-yo makes it easier to perform complicated string tricks. On the downside, it doesn't have as much momentum as a larger yo-yo with a heavier rim weight. Ultimately, the best size for a yo-yo depends on how you like it to feel in your hand and the type of tricks you want to perform.

The loop at the end of a yo-yo string isn’t for your finger. Use that loop to create a slipknot so the yo-yo won’t fall off.

How much do yo-yos cost?


For under $10, you can get a basic yo-yo. Unfortunately, these might not always be the best-performing models. However, a shrewd consumer who knows what to look for can find the perfect beginner yo-yo in this price range.


This is the best place to look for a quality yo-yo that can do everything you want but doesn’t cost a great deal of money. These models have user-friendly features that make them more versatile for performing tricks. Expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $20 on these yo-yos.


Once you move above $20, you’re at the high end of the price scale for yo-yos. These models are top-performing yo-yos that are best for advanced users. If you’re serious about dazzling others with your skill, at some point, you may want to step up to this price range.

When you hold your hand at your navel and let the yo-yo dangle, it shouldn’t touch the floor.



  • Remember that yo-yo strings pose a choking hazard. A yo-yo may seem like a safe toy for a young child, but it’s not. Because of this, many manufacturers don’t recommend a yo-yo for any child under eight.
  • Practice the basics. Using a yo-yo requires skills that take time to develop. Perfect the basics so you have the necessary foundation to perform more advanced tricks.
  • Learn how to wind your yo-yo. When you’re starting out, there will be a lot of misses. Learning how to quickly wind your yo-yo will reduce frustration.
  • Be aware of your environment. The average yo-yo string is roughly three feet long. If you’re performing tricks such as “Around the World,” you must watch out for lamps, furniture, the ceiling, other people, and other obstacles. The safest option is to clear the area before you begin — anywhere from three to five feet in all directions should be good.
  • Replace the string. When your yo-yo string starts to look old or begins to fray, replace it with a new string. Not only is a worn string dangerous because it’s prone to breakage, the lint can bog down your yo-yo so it doesn’t spin as freely.
  • Clean and lube your ball bearings. When the performance of your yo-yo begins to diminish, cleaning and lubing the ball bearings can make it good as new again. Sometimes, it will even make it better than new.
As you become more advanced with your yo-yo, you can use a longer string to perform a wider variety of tricks.


Q. Which finger gets the yo-yo string?

A. Place the yo-yo string over your middle finger. Slide it down so it’s midway between the first and second knuckle. Pull the string to tighten the loop against your finger so it doesn’t slip off, and you’re ready to begin.

Q. Do I drop or throw the yo-yo?

A. While it may be tempting to drop the yo-yo because it feels like you have more control, that won’t give you as much spin, so it will make performing tricks much harder. The best way to throw a yo-yo is to start with your palm facing up and the string at the top of the yo-yo. Bring your hand up to your shoulder and snap it down until your forearm is parallel with the floor. Let the yo-yo roll off your hand. As soon as the yo-yo reaches its lowest point, flip your hand over so your palm is facing down — this way you can catch the yo-yo when it comes back up.

Q. How do I wind a yo-yo string?

A. While there are many advanced ways to wind your yo-yo in less than a second, the best way for an absolute beginner is to wind the string round and round the yo-yo by hand. Unfortunately, this method can also twist your yo-yo string, but it works fine until you develop more yo-yo skills.

Q. Why does my yo-yo slip when I’m trying to wind it?

A. If a yo-yo can’t spin freely, you won’t be able to perform any tricks. This can make winding it up a little difficult. Luckily, there’s a trick that keeps the string from spinning instead of wrapping. On the first wrap, include the finger of your opposite hand. Pull the finger up and continue to wrap the string three times under your finger. Carefully slide your finger free and pull the string tight — but not so tight that it slips. This creates a little knot in the yo-yo that will come undone as soon as you throw it. The knot lets you wind the yo-yo without it slipping.


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