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Offstring yo-yoing (A.K.A. 4A) is a yo-yo playing style where the string is tied to the finger but not to the yo-yo. 1A (string play) yo-yos are often used, as well as dedicated offstring yo-yos. Offstring yo-yos are usually designed with flared body shapes and wide string gaps, to make it easier to catch and land it on the string.

Learning the basics

Before you start

Before you start to learn offstring, you should be comfortable with the tricks sleeper, trapeze, forward pass, and bind, as the basic offstring throw has a lot in common with them.

Choosing a yo-yo

Although it is not essential, it is recommended that you get hold of a yo-yo intended for offstring with a large gap to make it easier to land it on the string when you throw. Also, these yo-yos will usually have rubber or rubber-like outer rims, which helps you avoid breaking them or cracking them which can be just as bad (or denting the floor, the ceiling, yourself...) when you miss. Some offstring yo-yos are made out of delrin, allowing for smoother spinning, grinding capabilities, and their ability to bounce straight up off of the floor allow for easier recaptures and recoveries.

The most commonly used 4A yo-yos include the YoYoJam Aquarius, Duncan Flying Panda, YoYoFactory FlyMaster, Henrys Viper, and the Japan Technology Kamui.

Winding 

To set up your yo-yo for offstring play, hold the yo-yo end of the string in your hand and proceed to wind the string around the yo-yo. You should finish with a yo-yo that has a string wound around but is not tied onto the string. After a few seconds, you can wind without holding the end of the string, then you should be able to throw.

Throwing

To throw an offstring yo-yo you simply throw the yo-yo upwards, grab the end of the string once the yo-yo has been fully released and land the yo-yo on the outstretched string. Bear in mind that you should not need to throw it too hard, or the yo-yo will go very high and be harder to land on the string. You may wish to learn the throw outdoors to start with to ensure that you don't accidentally break anything when you are learning offstring tricks.

Returning

Returning an offstring yo-yo is very similar to a normal sidestyle bind. Once the yo-yo is on the string and spinning, you simply wrap the free end of the string around the yo-yo and pull with your yo-hand and the yo-yo should respond.

Tricks

Barrel Rolls, Volcano, Regenerations, and Slack Mountain

History of Offstring

Here is an interesting glance at the early stages of Offstring yo-yo play. This is an article that Dave Schulte wrote in 1999 for Yo-Yo World Magazine Issue #4. (the 4th issue was never produced)

File:OffStringArticle.pdf

Offstring Competition & Chasing Perfection

In Offstring yoyoing there is a nice rarity in performing and competing within it. That is to perform a routine without error. In yoyoing it is usually almost impossible to perform a flawlessly perfect routine. Most World and National champion 3 minute routines will average around 10 minor deductions (even if it looks like they went flawless to the untrained eye). However in the 4A/Offstring division it happens decently more often than in 1A, 2A, 3A, and 5A.

This may be due to several reasons:

  • First is the very nature of making mistakes in Offstring usually means the yoyo rolls or bounces away and the player will have to chase after it, which definitely adds incentive to not make mistakes since it can become an annoyance or tiring to chase after it so often. Although 5A/Freehand also has the possibility of the yoyo flying away too but that mistake for them is much less frequent. The other styles of play, 1A, 2A, and 3A do not have frequent problems of yoyos flying away.
  • Another reason is the 4A freestyle usually has less elements in total than the other divisions in the same time frame, since tricks in the Offstring division require lots of launching and catching the yoyo in order to score points and with the yoyo detached from the string itself when trying to accelerate it on the string is what makes it a slower style than the other divisions in general. Given less elements to perform the less opportunity for mistakes.
  • Lastly, because the offstring yoyos usually fly or roll away on simple mistakes like missed strings, in other divisions you can easily recover and receive only a minor deduction and a small amount of lost time, while in offstring missing a string hit can easily lead to -1 major deduction if the yoyo grinds to a stop on the ground and needs a restart, and a -3 major deduction if the yoyo rolls away and requires changing to a new yoyo. Given that the offstring division has more major deductions than any other division of yoyo competition and minimizing those will correlate to more wins.

While there have been noteworthy performances striving towards perfection in other divisions. (i.e. Shinya Kido having only 1 minor deduction in 2013 Central Japan's 1A division, Shu Takada almost perfect with no corkscrewing yoyos at 2007 Central Japan's 2A division) Offstring definitely has the the majority of routines closing in on perfection. Just like how Baseball has the perfect game, the no-hitter and the shut-out for pitchers, offstring has noteworthy performances we could categorize them as No Major Deductions, Drop-less routines, and Flawless routines.

Working the properties just like in the Baseball analogy, a Flawless routine would also count as a Drop-less and no Major Deduction routine, Although you could get a major deduction while going Drop-less due to a snag or knotted yoyo for example. A Flawless routine could be described as no minor deductions from any judge, no Major Deductions may also mean there are drops in the routine but the recoveries did not warrant a Major Deduction.

Since the advent of the Major deduction didn't exist until yoyo leagues implemented the split of deductions into Minor and Major in 2012, we will only categorize no Major Deductions routines on and after the year 2012.

Here is the list of the 4A/Offstring noteworthy routines. We will only consider 3 minute final routines, excluding preliminary rounds and 2 minute finals of smaller contests since those happen frequently.

No Major Deductions

Drop-less Routines

Flawless Routines

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