How Hula Hoops Work

Hula Hoop Games and Tricks

Those hoops won't get very far. Given the spin she put on them, they're about to come rolling back to her.
Those hoops won't get very far. Given the spin she put on them, they're about to come rolling back to her.
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The hula hoop just might be the original gaming system. Long before the age of Nintendo Game Boys, a simple wooden hoop allowed the user to enjoy a host of games and physical activities. Much like the ball, a hoop is an extremely versatile object. Here are just a few of the more widely practiced hoop games and tricks:

Hooping: You know how this one works. Move your body to spin a hula hoop around your waist, neck, arms or legs. While a fun physical activity in and of itself, you can also turn hooping into a competition of speed or endurance. Add a brisk step to your hip gyrations, and you can engage in a little hoop racing or sprinting.

Hoop dancing: Standard hooping engages multiple body segments and is actually more movement-intensive than much of what passes for dancing. Still, feel free to crank some music. Incorporate some fluid transitions, a few fancy moves and maybe an extra hoop or two to engage in full-on hoop dancing.

Hoop rolling: Do you have a hula hoop? Good. Do you have a stick? Excellent, then you have everything you need to engage in hoop rolling. Also known as hoop trundling, this is a game that children and adults have enjoyed since ancient times. Just set the hoop rolling across a parallel surface and then use the stick to roll it along. Multiple hoop rollers may also engage in hoop races, stunt challenges and head-on collisions.

Hoop jumping: While not as versatile as good old jump rope, a hula hoop can provide a similar experience. All you have to do is grip the top portion of the hoop and swing it down toward your feet. Jump over the hoop and then continue to arc it over the back of your head and then back down to your feet again to hop through it repeatedly.

Return of the hoop: First, grip the hula hoop in one hand and hold it out in front of you vertically. Using an underhanded throw, heave the still-vertical hoop forward and apply a downward spin at the last second as you release the hoop. When the hoop hits the ground, it will already be rotating in your direction. It'll touch down, skid in place for a second and then come right back to you.

Kill the hoop: A rolling hoop is a rolling target, so why not throw a spear through it? Or if you want to update the ancient British hoop game for modern times, try throwing or kicking a ball at it.

Hoop your environment: Children often use hula hoops to turn a simple backyard into a giant game board. You might place a few hoops on the ground and jump from one to the other as if they were islands. Crawl through them to mimic the mouths of caves and tunnels.

But maybe hoops are more than mere fun and games for you. Skip to the next page to learn how a little hula hooping can get you into shape.