7 Cures for the Kendama Slump

November 30, 2020

7 Cures for Kendama Slump

We've all been there, or at the very least know someone who's struggled with it. Grinding for hours at a time, dead camera batteries, the notorious "Slump" all players loathe. For some, this experience can be extremely demoralizing, bringing with it a sense of hopelessness. Many people are experiencing a general slump in morale from being stuck at home during this strange period of our lives, unable to travel to our yearly competitions. This can be a slump in progress, feeling unable to land a trick, or even a social slump, missing our friends.

There're tons of ways to lift ourselves out of these low points of our life, but sometimes it's difficult to remember to try new things in the moment. Bookmark this page and come back when you're feeling a slump to remind yourself of these seven ways I've outlined to push through these negative feelings. I highly recommend you try at least one, but you can benefit from implementing these practices into your day-to-day, and uplifting others through our efforts.

        1. Call your homies.

Video Chat Photo - 7 Cures For Kendama Slump - Blog Article

Almost everyone has a smart phone these days, which makes connecting with each other more easily than ever before. Although it might feel awkward at first, and might feel awkward for a while, audio or video calling your friends is an incredible way to keep in touch with friends and uplift our spirits. Take the time to reach out to someone who you care about and spend some time catching up with them. There aren't many things that make me happier than an unexpected call from one of my buddies. Knowing you are someone who people want to talk to is a wonderful feeling, like a cup of hot chocolate for your heart. I try my very best to impart on my friends how dearly I hold their friendship. Try to take joy from the effort put towards loving your friends. Who knows, talking to a friend might just give you the mental refresher you need!

        2. Dares

"Whirlwind check!" Land a trick on camera, any trick at all, and tag a couple of your close friends! This is a similar tip to #1, but more oriented towards social media. This is great because it creates a small goal for ourselves to accomplish, then challenges our friends with that same goal. It provides us with social connection, one of the major factors I believe can benefit our minds. Also, playing a game of virtual 1-up can also be a fun way of pushing through a slump with a friend. In 1-up, you land any one move (big cup, spike, lunar, etc.), and then the other player chooses and lands the next move, with turns trading off between players consecutively. Having a prompt from another perspective can be very helpful in breaking the "creative block" that exists within a slump.

        3. Watch some Edits

One of my favorite edits, Missu blows us away trick after trick in this tranquil and beautiful entry for the All Girls Video Contest '19.

Take a deep dive into YouTube and watch content from past years. Most players have at least one video/edit that is their favorite for a variety of reasons, whether that be the general vibes, the tricks, or even the music choices. You might re-watch a video that you love, or find some new videos from a player you may not even be familiar with. I have particular videos I always love to come back to because they bring me mental inspiration, others because they give me creative inspiration, and many that are all-encompassing. Tacking onto the points made previously, watching content from other players can provide you with new perspectives, allowing you the ability to view and evaluate your own journey with fresh eyes. If you're someone who enjoys making videos, maybe you'll see a shot that inspires you to make a new video of your own. If you're struggling with landing a new trick, maybe you'll see an idea you've never considered.

        4. Start a Notebook

Notebook - 7 Cures For Slump

 Grab a pen or pencil and some paper; start a notebook! Make a list of tricks you want to land, list goals you want to accomplish, write dream tricks. Whatever your thoughts, write them down. While having a digital version on your computer or smartphone is totally acceptable, I am partial to the traditional methods of physical writing. Like playing kendama, the tactile nature of writing in a notebook can help spur on more ideas just by going through the motions of it. Save your notebooks. When you come back to your thoughts at a later time, it's much more likely that you'll review your past notes through a new lens. Much like the old adage "Sleep on it", giving yourself time to let ideas steep can be great for your growth. 

        5. Learn a Different Trick

 If you find yourself stuck on a trick, instead of continuously trying the same thing over and over, switch lanes and try something altogether different. Often, this redirect can be exactly what your mind and body needs. When we're out grinding for a specific trick, we are constantly and consistently moving the same muscles repeatedly. It isn't only physically tiring, it's mentally exhausting when we are just a finger's length away from finishing it. Sometimes in frustration and sometimes fatigue, we exert less effort into performing the trick, whether or not we realize it. By attempting a new trick, we can provide some muscles with a rest from a constant barrage of attempts. Coming back to the trick later, you'll be physically and mentally refreshed, better equipped to achieve your goal.

        6. Make Kendama Art

Kendama Art by Miles Gibson - 7 Cures Kendama Article

Art by Miles Gibson circa 2013 
If you're an artistic person, then you probably already do this! Try making something kendama related, whether it be writing about it, drawing, filming, or any other medium. Applying your mind abstractly to kendama in broader ways can expand your originally perceived limits of creativity. Try including kendama in your other creative endeavors. This is another wonderful way of approaching kendama in your life from a different path, much like some other tips we've covered. This tip also nicely segues into my last piece of advice:

        7. Try Other Hobbies

Just as many skills from kendama can be applied to other parts of our lives, many things we learn elsewhere can apply to kendama in much the same way. I practice and read a lot of magic, which helps me apply unusual ideas and helps me play kendama in my own way. With Adrian Esteban, he started throwing Yo-Yo in order to improve his kendama play. This is akin to the saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket"; I think it makes a massive difference in the growth of an individual when the person grows and learns from many facets of life. Find an activity you love doing and consider how you can combine that with your love for kendama. 


You may have heard people say "happiness is a choice"; there is truth in that, albeit I don't think the meaning is as clear as the phrase is literal. To me, much of happiness is in the journey, "the pursuit of happiness". We find happiness in the things we do and the choices we make, not just the finish line. While yes, just trying one or more of these things may not absolve us from our negative feelings, it is so important that we address them when they arise. Take these tips with you going forward and don't be afraid to try new things, no matter what they may be. Sometimes, a slight change in thinking can be all the change you need.

Thanks for reading! Still yearning for more advice? Here's a video from the community beloved Cutthenoise (We miss you!). Many of his tips are widely different than mine!
Cody Booth is a kendama player of 5 years from Huntington, WV who helps with multiple organizations pushing kendama forward. Cody's Instagram.