BUCKHANNON, W.Va. -- Not everyone can say he is a yo-yo master, but 14-year-old Buckhannon resident Isaac Sams can.
Sams, who has been slinging a yo-yo around deftly since age 10, is a self-taught yo-yo junkie, getting most of his inspiration from watching other aficionados do tricks on video-sharing websites like YouTube.
"I'll watch someone's freestyle on the Internet and I'll try to do something like they did and get an idea," the eighth-grader at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School said.
Sams got his first yo-yo when he was 8.
"He learned a lot of basic tricks, but after a while he said, 'There has to be something more I can do with this,'" said his grandmother Sue Smith.
So for Christmas one year, Sams got a competition-worthy yo-yo and started learning more difficult tricks.
"This is not the yo-yo you go to Walmart and buy," his grandmother said.
Most of Sams' yo-yos used in competition cost anywhere from $30 to $60 a pop.
When learning a new trick, Sams practices in steps. He starts with a mount, which is the base move of any yo-yo trick.
Some of the most common mounts are the trapeze, the Houdini mount, the double-or-nothing, and the triple-or-nothing -- all tricks that loop the yo-yo back onto itself and get the ball rolling.
"Usually whenever I come up with a different trick or combo, I practice a lot until I get it smooth and fast," he said.
From there, anything can happen.
"A lot of the tricks can be really different," he said.
Sams said the hardest trick you can learn in the yo-yo world is called "rancid milk." He pulls it off with ease, his fingers moving so quickly it's hard for the untrained eye to tell if there are 10 or 100 fingers, which quickly pull the strings into the right place while slinging the yo-yo skillfully to and fro.
"There are a lot of strange concepts to the trick," he said. "There are a lot of fancy tricks you can do and a lot of technical tricks, but there are also a lot of tricks you can use your whole body with."
Sams demonstrated by swinging the yo-yo down and around his legs, across his elbow and over his arm.
Finger placement is something you have to get the hang of, Sams said. "There is a rhythm to it, to all the things you have to do."
Sams practices with his yo-yo at least two or three hours a day, not including when he pulls it out of his pocket for a few minutes of tricks here or there.
"I usually take one to school," he said. "There's always one in my pocket."
After he felt he was skilled enough, he started entering regional, national and world yo-yo competitions at the 1A level, which requires players to perform classic yo-yo tricks.