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Rizkiyoist's Technical 2A Guide

What is 2A?
2A is one of the division in yoyo play where a player uses two yoyos in each hands performing looping tricks.

This is a guide that will cover more of the technical detail of 2A division play, from setting up the yoyo to some of the details about how the "physics" works. This is NOT a 2A trick tutorial.
This guide is mainly based on my personal experience and all the information I gathered over the years, feel free to disagree.
This is my way of doing it, and this is how I will tell you.

Getting in the right mindset
Let me get this out first, 2A is hard.
Like really hard.
It will take most people month to years to learn.
I'm not saying this to discourage you, but just so you know that you can't expect overnight progress, and that if you have been into it for a few weeks and still doesn't see any visible progress, it's completely normal. There will be times when you feel like you're not progressing at all. It's fine, find what is wrong and try to fix them.

Yoyo Choice
Unlike 1A division where some people argue it's better to learn with a lower cost "beginner" yoyo and before getting a better model later. I'd strongly recommend against cheaping out in 2A, just get a decent pair right away. A pair of decent loopers only costs about the same or less as budget metals anyway.
I will leave you to do the research and choose your own pair. A little tip, do a quick Youtube and Google search for reviews and promotional videos/demos. If you can't find any useful information about the yoyo, avoid that, unless you're willing to risk getting a poorly designed yoyo that doesn't even work properly and losing your money instead.

Yoyo Setup
Yoyo setup is very important for 2A. It doesn't matter how skilled you are, if it's a really bad setup you won't be able to play properly. However, just because you have a good setup doesn't mean you can magically loop without practice either.
What is the best setup for 2A?
Every single 2A player have different setup, literally. You need to find a setup that works best for you; even modding and swapping parts among different brands is common in 2A. However, any experienced 2A player will be able to use another player's setup just fine because it's still in the "good setup" range, just probably not the most comfortable.
Here comes the biggest dilemma for a new 2A player: in order to get a good setup, you need to be able to loop, but since you're still learning, it's often hard to determine whether a problem is due to lack of practice or simply a bad setup.

But don't worry, here are some pointers to get the best out of your pair, even if you're a beginner.
*When setting up the yoyo, use fresh strings with neutral response, single loop only (on the bearing end), and get the string length to your liking.

This applies only when the string is in neutral tension, if the tension is not neutral, it will affect responsiveness. Tighter tension will be more responsive, and looser tension will be more unresponsive
One of most important part of the setup is, the yoyo absolutely must be able to sleep.
Any string grinding, or worse, locking, is bad.

Now once you're sure that the yoyo can sleep, throw a Gravity Pull then tug the yoyo back to your hand immediately without letting it to sleep, you'll notice some slack on the string/response loss just after the yoyo bounce back before the string catches the response, this will happen in a split second.
What you want to do is set up the response width/gap width/string thickness (depending on the yoyo) to minimize the slack/response loss, usually by narrowing the gap, but not so far that the response system starts grinding/locking the string.
This will put your setup in the "good" range.
Now you may want to tweak it to get slightly looser or tighter, depending on your preference. A looser setup will be slightly easier to wrap, and a tighter setup will be slightly easier to loop.

Keep in mind that string tension affects A LOT, so when playing the yoyo will gradually become more responsive or less depending on the trick you're doing.
Personally I like the setup to be exact on each hands. To check if the setup is exact, just throw both yoyo at the same time with about the same power then catch it, compare the diameter of the string winding (easier to see on a transparent yoyo), if they look the same then it's a similar setup, if one is smaller than the other, the smaller one will have a wider gap.

Should I set the yoyo to be able to sleep even though I don't do wraps?
A grinding/locked setup seems like a good setup for a beginner because it seems easier, thus better and less frustrating.
But if you look at it closer, the reason why it's easier is simply because it doesn't punish bad loops. It lets you keep going even though the yoyo is tilted all over the place, it teaches you bad loops.

Use good setup and practice more.

Advanced Setup
You can skip this section and go to the "Basics" section if you're still a complete beginner and don't want to get overwhelmed by the smaller details. These information is not crucial if you're completely starting up, but can be useful if you're willing to learn more.

This will have something to do with "kickback".
Kickback is basically the amount of resistance of the yoyo when thrown, the 'heft' you feel when you are throwing the yoyo. Every yoyo have different amount of kickback depending on the weight distribution, gap width, bearing size, total weight, and the size and length of the string.

Now what is kickback doing in 2A?
A looping yoyo with high kickback will feel tight and heavy, the string will bite your finger more and it tends to loop upward or hop the fence backward.
With low kickback it will feel feathery, light, and indirect, as if your power is not translated well, the yoyo tend to loop downward or hop the fence forward.

Wider gap, shorter string, thinner string, all increase kickback, while narrower gap, longer string, thicker string, all decrease kickback.
Say if your yoyo feels too heavy and tight, you can use slightly longer string so that you can get less kickback without altering the yoyo setup. Or if one yoyo feels heavier than the other but you don't want to change the string length, you can narrow the gap on the heavier one to make them feel more similar.

The Mentality
Many experienced 2A players will tell you, "Only learn the good loops."
While this may sound silly, it has a deeper meaning.
When you learn to loop and you messed up, stop, and then try again. Don't keep forcing out bad loops just because it can keep going. The idea is to not being good at doing it wrong.

What happens when you practice bad loops? you will become an expert, in bad loops.

I'd recommend learning both loops and hop the fence at the same time as they are somewhat of different skill set. Being able to do one doesn't mean you can automatically do the other. Also learn basic around the worlds and planet hop. Once you can do these, learn the outside variations of loops and hop the fence and shoot the moon.
Make sure to be comfortable doing the trick with each hand first before attempting to do it with both hands.

2A tricks can be divided into three categories:
-Flip based (loop, hop the fence)
-Non-flip based (planet hop, shoot the moon)
-Sleep based (around the world, wraps)

When doing flip tricks, the yoyo literally flips for every repetition, this will affect string tension in different ways. String tension affects responsiveness. Always keep track of the string tension in both hands.

In order to loop properly, your hands have to move properly. For loops it goes like this:

  1. Hold your throwhand forward, palm facing downward.
  2. Pull your middle finger down and pull it down and back as if pointing to your body, twist your wrist downward to get it further back.
  3. Push your middle finger down and forward.

Some people will tell you to do "shake hands" movement, I'd advise you against that, because you're exerting forces sideways against your finger (risk of injuries), instead you should put the palm facing down and push along smoothly with your finger down and forward.
Go on Youtube and look at the high level players hands, almost none of them are shaking hands, and it's not really a twisting/rotating movement either, but more like a backward pull and forward push, while the palm never facing up (unless for outside loops of course).
As with hop the fence, personally I do it by curving my pointer and middle finger as if making a letter 'C' but without the thumb in the way. There is nothing much to it than how it looks, you can however use your pointer finger to increase the strength and lay the string on the pointer finger for more control. It goes like this:

  1. Put your throwhand as if you're holding a glass of water, but without the thumb.
  2. Twist back as if you're pouring the water to your feet.
  3. Twist forward and return to the initial step.

A proper loop will have some tilt because the way your hand move and the yoyo flips, there is a line which will "lock" the yoyo in place.
Basically the yoyo on the right hand will tilt slightly to the right, and the yoyo on the left hand will tilt slightly to the left. There is no exact amount of tilt, but I'll say around 10-20 degrees, or about 1 o clock or slightly less on the right hand and 11 o clock on the lef hand, it may tilt more or less depending on how you loop and your setup.
Keep in mind that the yoyo tilts relative to the loop angle. You can loop straight and keep the yoyo slightly tilted outward, or you can loop slightly tilted inward so that the yoyo looks straight (but it's in fact tilted relative to the loop), both are correct.
As with hop the fence, the yoyo should tilt outward, the yoyo on the right tilts to the right, and the left tilts to the left (looking from the leg).

How does one keep the yoyo tilt at certain angle?
Well it's not straightforward unfortunately, but there are certain minute ways of moving your fingers and altering the power slightly, that you can keep the tilt seemingly locked in place. This will come with practice.
Use the tilt as a gauge, if it tilts in the wrong direction or out of control, stop then try again. Remember only learn the good loops. With enough practice even if the yoyo tilts slightly off, you'll be able to nudge it back to place.
Once you're comfortable, try looping with your eyes closed. If you can feel the trajectory of the yoyo, then you know you can loop.

-Around the Worlds
How does the high level 2A players do long series of wraps without the yoyo dying? it's because they can control the balance of the yoyo so that it doesn't tilt too far. Most of you who have been into 1A would know how to keep the yoyo balanced upright even if you throw slightly crooked, it's the same thing with 2A yoyos except it's a lot more sensitive. Practice a few reps of around the worlds on each hands, do side by side around the worlds, do retro around the worlds. Try to get the feel of the yoyo trajectory and keep it as straight as possible.

-More Advanced Tricks
What's more from here? well once you can do them on each hands, learn to do them on both hands. From there you're basically done with the basics and should already know enough to learn by yourself.
Punching bags and vertical hops are all based on hop the fence, they feel somewhat similar.

-Important Points

  1. Don't expect instant progress, slow and steady and enjoy your journey.
  2. Do setup with fresh strings.
  3. Proper form, imitate high level players you like.
  4. String tension affect responsiveness A LOT. Use this at your advantage.
  5. Watch the tilt.
  6. Only practice the good loops!
  7. Loops and hop the fence are of different skill set, learn both at the same time, also learn around the worlds and planet hop as these are all the very basics.

To be added in the future: