If you've recently acquired a diabolo but don't know where to start, this is the Instructable for you! It will cover a few basics that can jumpstart your abilities and help you move onto more difficult and impressive tricks. One of the most difficult parts of using a diabolo is just getting it to spin correctly. Once you have that down, the rest of these should just be a matter of practice and familiarization with the diabolo. Each trick is easily learned, but can be difficult to master and perform consistently.
But first, a little background for those who may not know what a diabolo is:
The diabolo is a juggling prop consisting of an axle and two cups or discs. This object is spun using a string attached to two handsticks. A huge variety of tricks are possible with the diabolo, including tosses, and various types of interaction with the sticks, string, and various parts of the users body. Multiple diabolos can be spun on a single string.
If you are looking for more, www.diabolotricks.com has a lot of good flash animations showing how to do hundreds of variations of the following tricks.
Step 1: The Clockwise/Counterclockwise Sun
One of the simplest tricks to begin with is the CW/CCW Sun.
1) Get the diabolo spinning in the normal position. Imagine you are facing a large clock face. Keeping your stick ends in the center of the clock swing the diabolo to your right so it reaches about 8 o'clock. This is your back swing.
2) As the diabolo begins to swing back right, give it some energy so it swings all the way up and around in a circle. Keep your stick ends side-by-side in the center of the clock all the way around. The normal position of the diabolo is at 6 o'clock. After a full circle (Sun) it should return to that point. Notice the string is in a half-knot.
3) The easiest way to get out of the half knot is to reverse the CCW Sun with a Clockwise Sun which is just swinging the diabolo in the opposite circle direction.
The flash animation above shows a CW Sun and a CCW Sun in quick succession. The recorded gif shows a CCW Sun, and how the string is twisted into a half-knot.
Suns are the easiest way to untwist the string if a trick goes wrong without having to stop and restart. This trick should take less than five minutes to perfect.
Additionally, many more complicated tricks begin with a Sun to have the string in a half-knot.
Step 2: Trapezes
This next trick is known as the Right Trapeze. Here, the diabolo stops and lands on the string after wrapping around the right stick.
1) Get the diabolo spinning. From normal position, swing the diabolo to the left as a prep, keeping your sticks in the normal position.
2) As the diabolo stops its left swing and begins to swing back to the right, give it more energy without changing the way you hold the sticks.
3) Your CCW swing should be enough for the diabolo to go up and over the right stick. As it is swinging, move your right stick straight ahead slightly so the string begins to wrap around as the diabolo swings around it.
4) After the diabolo begins to drop, it needs to land on the string now between your sticks. The hardest part of this trick is getting the diabolo to land on the string. If your swing is even and your right stick is straight out, the diabolo should land there naturally. If something is off you may need to catch the diabolo on the string by slightly moving your handsticks.
5) To return, pull both handsticks outward, forcing the diabolo to swing clockwise until it returns to the starting position. This is clearly shown in the recorded gif.
If you miss the string, try and swing the diabolo back over the stick to avoid getting tangled. As I said before, getting the diabolo to land on the string is the most difficult part of this trick, and it can take some time to master.
Step 3: Grinds
The final trick is the grind, one of the more difficult starter tricks. After getting the diabolo spinning:
1) Slightly toss the diabolo up in the center.
2) Point your right stick to the left and keep it horizontal.
3) After the diabolo reaches its highest point and starts to fall, catch it with the level right stick.
4) Diabolo should land on the stick and spin in place. Note: If the stick is level, the spinning diabolo may roll off of the end. To correct this, raise the end of the stick so it balances.
6) An easy way to return to normal is to point the end of the right stick down so the diabolo slides down to the string. Another way is to toss the diabolo and to quickly tighten the string to catch it while it falls.
There are several other variations of grinds, like the X-grind. There, steps 1-3 are the same, with the exception being that you hold your sticks crossed in an X, and catch the diabolo at the intersection. This trick can also be a stepping stone into another category of tricks, cradles.
Step 4: Conclusion
With these three tricks in your arsenal, you should have enough control over the diabolo to tackle more complicated tricks!
Many mainstream juggling outfits carry diabolos, and there are enough variations out there to make finding one that best fits your needs a challenge. This video takes you through many different variations:
I personally use a Duncan Phoenix diabolo, with a one-way axle. I have been thinking about getting a Sundia as well.
Credit for flash animations goes to www.diabolotricks.com.
Comments, questions, and recommendations are always welcome!