Single Sticking

Single sticking is the first thing to learn with your devilstick, being the basic skill of passing a devilstick back & forth between two handsticks. Some people also call this idling or tic-toc.

Holding the handsticks

The first thing to sort out is how to hold your handsticks. First of all take the end of a handstick between your thumb & forefinger & dangle it in front of you. With the other hand pinch the bottom of the stick again with your thumb & fore finger. Wiggle the stick about & notice how your grip slips. Now with your free hand gently push against the stick & notice how easy it is to move the stick out of position. This is not the way to hold a stick. One of the most common mistakes when learning is to hold the handsticks at the end where you have the least control.

Dangle the stick again & this time pinch the stick in the centre. Wiggle it about as before & notice how much lighter it feels & how much firmer your grip is. Holding the stick towards the centre gives you far more control.

Hold your hand open with your fingers together, separate your index finger from the other three so that it forms a 'V' shape with the middle finger. Look at the inside of your index finger, notice that it is made up of three segments, each separated by a joint. Place the middle segment of your index finger at the halfway point of the handstick. Rest the lower half of the stick against the inner segments (those closest to your palm) of your other three fingers. Curl all of your fingers around the stick & place your thumb so that it points along its length.

All that just to describe holding a stick! I hope this goes to show how important the handstick grip is.

Getting Started

Either kneel down or practise over your bed, you'll need the ground to help you get started. Hold one handstick out in front of you at waist level pointing forward & angled slightly inwards. With the other hand, place the devilstick so that the handstick is touching it at a point halfway between the centre & the top. The devilstick should be lying at an angle of around 30° to the ground. Pick up the other handstick with your other hand.

Lift the handstick that is supporting the devilstick straight up, keeping the handstick level at all times. The rubber of your handstick should be grippy enough to lift the devilstick clean off of the floor, as the devilstick moves from 30° to vertical, the amount of friction will be less & the devilstick will lose contact with the handstick. When the devilstick leaves the floor the bottom half will swing like a pendulum under your rising hand. The momentum of this swing will cause the top half of the devilstick to swing over the top & onto your other handstick. As it swings over lift your other handstick to meet it. Cushion its fall so that it comes to rest lying between the floor & your handstick at around 30° with the handstick positioned halfway between the centre & the top of the devilstick.

Practise lifting & bringing the devilstick to rest with both hands. If you find that you have to lift your hand above your head before the devilstick leaves the handstick then lift it more slowly. If the devilstick slips off of the handstick & falls back down the way it came then you need to make the lift a bit faster. Experiment until you find a 'lifting speed' that works for you.

Now still on the floor rest the devilstick against one handstick as before. Take a look at how high your handstick is from the floor, let's call this the 'starting height', as this is where your handstick starts the lift from. Now stand the devilstick straight up from the floor & hold your handstick level with the top, this will be the 'finishing height', or where you will finish the lifting motion. Now practise passing the devilstick back & forth again, but this time only lift the handstick from the starting height & stop at the finishing height. You will probably have to lift the handsticks faster than before.

Keep passing the devilstick back & forth, but now focus on bringing it to rest. As you bring your handstick up the devilstick is moving towards it. When the devilstick touches the handstick you let the handstick give way a little to absorb the devilstick's momentum. The devilstick slows down, stops & if the floor wasn't in the way it would begin to roll back the way it came.

Lift the devilstick from one handstick & catch it on the other, then at the moment the devilstick stops moving lift it straight back again. At this point the surface you are practising over will start to get in the way, so either stand up or move away from your bed after the first lift. Practise passing the devilstick back & forth continuously.

If the devilstick speeds up & goes out of control then you are applying your handsticks too close to the top of the devilstick &/or using too much force. Touch the devilstick further down & lift it a little slower. Remember catch & throw - DON'T HIT.

If you find the devilstick rolling over your handsticks then you are touching the devilstick too close to the centre. Lifting the handstick higher will only serve to lift the devilstick further out of your control. Instead just stop with your handstick supporting the devilstick & wait for the devilstick to begin rolling back again. Because the handstick is very grippy & because it should be positioned past the balance point at the centre, you will find that you can let the devilstick roll quite a way over your handstick & it will still roll back allowing you to get it back under control. Just DON'T PANIC!

You may also find that the devilstick rolls away from you & falls off the end of your handsticks. This is caused by two things. One, your handsticks are pointing outwards. In which case just point them inwards. Or two, when you catch the devilstick you are letting the tip of your handstick drop with the devilstick. This means that when you start to lift the devilstick back up the handstick is pointing downwards & the lifting motion pushes the devilstick away from you. To overcome this work on keeping the handsticks as level with the ground as possible.

With practise you'll be able to keep the devilstick under control & correct mistakes easily. Without trying you'll probably find that the distance between the starting & finishing heights of your handsticks will go down to a matter of centimetres. After mastering single sticking try Double Sticking & the Propeller.