Why Hoopers Should Try Spinning Poi

Photos by Carol Meckes
Photos of Josie Rodriguez by Carol Meckes

What is Poi?
Traditional Sock Poi made with socks and tennis balls

Explained simply by wikipedia, "Poi refers to both a style of performing art and the equipment used for engaging in poi performance. As a performance art, poi involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. Poi artists may also sing or dance while swinging their poi. Poi can be made from various materials with different handles, weights, and effects (such as fire). Poi originated with the Māori people of New Zealand, where it is still practiced today."

Why Spin Poi and Hoops?

1. One benefit is coming out of a rut with hooping. If you are having trouble with confidence or really stuck on things and just don't seem to enjoy hooping at the time, you're not alone. Picking up another prop is a great way to get out of your rut and also learn new skills that can help your hooping later on.

2. Poi really helps keep very clean and controlled planes. If you're off by a little bit, you can get quite tangled up or hit yourself. This is especially true for helping with weaves.

3. Spinning poi is an especially great way to help with double/twin hoops and mini hoops. Poi moves do not require surface switches or grip changes. You simply hold on to the string, ball, or sock (depending on the type of poi). They are also normally smaller when short, and easier to work with. For example, the 3 beat weave is known for difficulty due to having such frequent surface switches/grip changes while maintaining the weave and also switching which arm is on top with each rotation. (See video below).

Shaina Michael

Photo Credit: Matt Mead Photography

"The fact that poi can be adjusted in length as you spin can make learning moves easier as well as them being softer smaller objects, you are less likely to hit yourself and if you do, it hurts a lot less. Especially when you're doing moves like the windmill or the behind the back weave where your hands aren't necessarily in front of you while learning."

Josie also explained some details about poi and hooping

"Using all flowers opens up more freedom of movement I think, which is something I'm still really working on. For both props, I think it helps to switch things up when you might be in a rut with one. You turn to the other and it keeps your flow fresh. With poi once I understood plane control and the basic movements there it was super easy to apply that to double hoops. So I learned a lot faster than I think I would've otherwise. Also some things are a little easier to learn on poi first since the hoops aren't in the way. They're so big they can be harder at times. But in general I feel their flow is also different. If I'm in a more easy going mood I'll usually hoop because it seems more care free to me. Poi flow is a little more calculated always being aware of your planes and position of the poi & your arms, tension in the tether and so on."

Here is a collection of short clips showing moves done with poi and also with hoops. You can use this as a guide to comparing the similarities and differences. Josie was nice enough to make all of these clips for us, so thank you Josie!

3 Beat Weave

Crossers or Hug Weaves 


Same Direction Anti Spin Flowers

Opposite Direction Anti Spin Flowers




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