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Yoyo Articles, by The Yoyologist Crew members
South African Yo-yo Players

Power of Spin

A spinning yo-yo has what is called a plane. The plane is the angle that a yo-yo holds while it is spinning. The plane comes from what is called gyroscopic stability, and gyroscopic stability comes from rotational inertia.

When you throw a hard Sleeper and the yo-yo is rotating, every single molecule of your yo-yo is wanting fly outward, but it can't, because all the molecules are attached to each other and to the axle. So, say for example, the yo-yo is spinning fast, and is exerting a force of 200g up, 200g down, 200g forward, 200g back, and in every direction in between. The yo-yo only weighs 65g, and because the same amount of energy is going forward as is going back (half the yo-yo is going up while the other half is going down), all the forces are counter-balanced and the yo-yo has the same mass (65g if your yo-yo weighs 65g), despite wanting to "shoot out" in a 360 degree radius.

When the yo-yo slows down and the force it is rotating at is less than the mass of the yo-yo (65g in this case), the yo-yo will tilt over and "die", as energy always follows the path of least resistance. So when the force of the spin is less than 65g, the yo-yo will spin out.

The 360 degree radius that "shoots out" is the plane you play on, coming from the centre of the yo-yo (the string gap). If you want to mount the yo-yo on a string, you need to line the string up on the same path as the plane of the spinning yo-yo. If the string and the yo-yo aren't lined on the same plane, it will be impossible to land the yo-yo on the string.

Imagine playing fingerboard. The yo-yo is one of the pieces that slides across the board. Now take the fingerboard table and prop it up vertically. Now the yo-yo can now slide up, down, forward and backward, but not side-to-side. The fingerboard table illustrates the plane. Remember to keep things in a straight line.

Put lines of tape on the floor, and when you throw, try and match the plane to the tape lines. If you don't want to tape the floor, practise standing where a door frame (or other vertical straight line) is in front of you so that it can give you a line to match up to. If you're playing sideways (Trapeze), find a line on the tiles of the floor, play in front of a bed or anything else that will give you a horizontal line to match your plane to.

When you throw a Trapeze, the plane is parallel to your shoulders, and you want to keep everything in a straight line and on the same plane to land the yo-yo on the string. When doing a Braintwister, the plane will be in a straight line in front of you and you need to keep the yo-yo and all string segments on a straight line to land the trick.

Sometimes you may need to break plane. When doing a Split Bottom Mount you have three string segments, and it is necessary to keep the first string segment off the plane as you don't want to land the yo-yo on that string segment. Similarly, when doing Double or Nothing, you want to land the yo-yo only on the string furthest from your body, and that segment needs to be on-plane, all the other string segments must be off-plane, otherwise you'll land the yo-yo on all the strings.

So remember, to land on a string, it must be on-plane, to miss a string segment, you need to be off-plane, and the plane itself is a 360 degree radius centred around the gap determined by the angle the yo-yo holds while spinning.

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