The way you grip your poi balls can either help or hinder your ability to perform. Regardless of experience, flow artists can go a long time without realizing their flawed grip technique is holding them back. And as a result, they might struggle to achieve more advanced spins later on in their career. That’s why it’s important for spinners to learn how to hold poi correctly based on their handle type as early as possible.
If you’re looking for a reliable poi set to follow along with as we demonstrate how to hold poi correctly, check out our LED contact poi. We believe it’s the best starter set for beginners, and a great practice set for experts.
Note: We’ve based a lot of the information in this section on a tutorial video by DrexFactor, so check out Drex’s video for a visual demonstration of what we’ll be covering.
Before we explain how to hold poi, you need to understand your poi set’s three distinct parts, and how they are controlled through your grip.
The Head is the weighted end of your poi, which extends furthest from your body while spinning. It’s responsible for creating the geometric patterns we associate with poi spinning. An LED poi head will create patterns with light trails.
The Tether is a flexible rope that connects the head and the handle of your poi.
The Handle allows you to grip the tether and control the poi head. It’s the point at which all spinning is anchored, and the most important part for learning how to hold your poi correctly.
There are three types of poi handles you will likely encounter on the market. Each one requires you to hold your poi differently.
A single loop handle is the most secure of the different handle types. It consists of a looped strip of fabric, through which you can fasten your hand to the poi tether using a slipknot. To do this, first pinch the handle at its base (where it connects to the tether) between your middle and index fingers. Then, pull the looped fabric over your two fingers and tighten it by pulling down on the tether. As you spin, the slipknot will remain tightly secured to your hand, since the poi head will pull the tether away from your body.
Double loop handles are similar to single loop handles, in that they connect your middle and index fingers to the poi tether. However, the double looped fabric does not require you to tie a slipknot, and instead provides one loop for each of your two fingers.
The final handle type to consider is the ball handle. It's exactly what it sounds like: Small, spherical, and more solid than looped fabric. Another distinguishing facet of ball handles is that they’re designed to be let go of mid-spin, such as for contact rolls and throws. In other words, ball handles are the least secure handles for poi spinning by design.
There is no single right answer for how to hold poi with ball handles. For this reason, we have chosen a variety of grips you can try. Once you find a grip that feels comfortable to you, practice using it until you learn its quirks. This is the key to mastering your poi.
Consider which two fingers you’re using to hold your poi handles. This determines the quality of your grip. Earlier, we recommended using your middle and index finger because they are most commonly used by spinners across the poi community, but you may prefer to use your middle and ring fingers instead.
Another option is to invert the position of your poi handle so that it protrudes from the knuckle side of your hand, rather than from the palm side. With this set-up, the tether would run between your ring and pinky fingers, then up your palm toward your thumb. To secure this grip, make a fist around the remaining tether so that it also runs between your curled index finger and thumb.
The most common way to hold poi with ball handles is to pinch the tether between your thumb and the second joint of your index finger. Once again, you’ll be making a fist, but this time with the ball handle toward the top of your closed fist, instead of toward the bottom between your ring and pinky fingers. If you’re maintaining this grip properly, your thumb should press down on the tether side of your ball handle while your fist is closed.
Finally, for a simpler grip using ball handles, make a fist around only the tether with the ball handle below your curled pinky finger. This will lock the handle at the bottom of your hand, but you will sacrifice a bit of your tether length to do so.
Shorter tethers can be easier to practice with for beginners, since the poi head will be a little closer to your hand. It can also make it easier for you to perform certain tricks, such as buzzsaws, during which you risk hitting yourself with your poi heads if their tethers are too long. Here’s how to hold poi with shortened tethers...
Using a ball handle, run the tether of your poi between your thumb and index finger with the ball on the palm side of your hand. Allow the tether to hang over your knuckles, then grab it and wrap it around the bottom of your hand so that it runs across your palm. Make a fist and pinch the tether between your thumb and the second knuckle of your index finger, so that your thumb presses down on top of the ball handle.
Once you’ve learned the ins and outs of your poi set, including its three distinct parts, handle types, and techniques for how to hold poi, you may be wondering where to go from here.
The next step is to grab a set of high quality LED contact poi and begin practicing beginner poi tricks, which will teach you the fundamentals of spinning. If you’re a more experienced spinner, who came here for a refresher, we recommend browsing our extensive collection of poi balls and other flow toys.
We hope you found this article helpful.