Forums > Technical Discussion > Silly question about making practice Poi

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48 posts
Location: MD, USA

Ok, this is probably a stupid question, but like the saying goes, "There are no stupid questions, just a lot of inquisitive idiots."Anyways, I want to make practice Poi out of rope (shoe strings?) and tennis balls, because practicing with dead glowsticks is quite painful. I really cant figure out how to attach the tennis balls to the string so it doesnt come of when they hit each other or something.Any help is appreciated.

Madame Kalimember
5 posts
Location: Grand Rapids, MI, USA

If you are willing to cut the tennis ball, here is how I did it:I cut a slit in one side of the ball and then mad a hole in the other side. I passed my string through the slit and then used the hole to get at the string (or whatever you are using) then I tied a large nut (as in what you put on the end of a screw
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) on the end. Then you pull the string back up through the small slit so that the nut hits the inside of the tennis ball and viola!I am sure there are other ways, but that worked for me.MK


Location: sweden(ume)

heh, newbi myself but make holes in the balls?


Location: sweden(ume)

heh, loading fucked up, sorry, thought there where no replys...

SteelWngsBRONZE Member
169 posts
Location: Malden, Massachusetts United States, USA

The easiest way to make a hole in a tennis ball is to use a wood screw. Since you risk really hurting yourself if the tennis ball moves when using a knife. Just get a good sized wood screw and screw it into the side of the tennis ball. then to get the cord through the tennis ball use a piece of wire that is double the length of the tennis ball and bend the wire into a big U shape and use it like a needle and thread. Push the wire through the holes in the tennis ball and then thread the cord through the wire and pull the wire out of the tennis ball with the cord attached. Tah dah ...Threaded tennis ball.
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Then all you have to do is tie the cord to the size you want to.To make a set of practice poi all you need is 3$ worth of nylon cord and 3$ worth of tennis balls.------------------Blessings to all, Peter "There is a rhythm that unites us with the natural world. The more we learnto feel that rhythm and get it into the mainstream of our lives, thestronger can be our spirit."--- Robert Rodale

Blessings to all,
When you find yourself in the company of a halfling and an ill-tempered Dragon, remember, you do not have to outrun the Dragon just have to outrun the halfling.

AnonymousPLATINUM Member

One alternative (the one I've gone for) is to make the tennis balls into practice wicks; using the same stuff as discussed before, try to make a short loop of rope out of the top of the tennis ball, so that it looks something like a christmas decoration. Then, you have a wick you can swap on your normal poi chains, so you don't have to duplicate chains, handles, etc.Unless your poi don't have a clip at the end, in which case, ignore me... :-)

6 posts
Location: San Antonio,Texas, USA

What we do is drill two holes in the top of a tennis ball and two in the bottom. Attach a cord to a piece of wire and thread through in a U shape. Then tie the cord to a d-ring and attach to your chain. This works very well. ------------------AislinnTribe Rolling Thunder, Sisterhood of the SerpentThe Rolling Thunder web site --
* Ask no more and give no less than honesty, courage, loyalty, generosity, and fairness. *

Tribe Rolling Thunder, Sisterhood of the Serpent
* Ask no more and give no less than honesty, courage, loyalty, generosity, and fairness. *

18 posts
Location: The Beginning

I use a drill press or awl to puncture a hole in ball on each end. Take a stiff wire as mentioned above, thread to wire, pass on through, tie a couple knots. Instead of running the string all the way to the grip, get a couple large fishing swivels and first attach the string to the swivel near the tennis ball. Then run your string (chain etc) to the grip. For handy dandy finger nooses, I make double finger grips out of nylon. Go to Ace Hardware or the like and they sell Nylon strapping 6' for 2 dollars. Cut 11". Fold it. Fold it each end back around again, then sew. Play with it and youll see what I mean.

45 posts
Location: Bath UK

BY FAR THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS IS....ignore all the crap about wire and threading and:1. Poke a SMALL hole in a tennis ball.2. Get an elongated peice of metal with a hole in the middle of its length (e.g. a wingnut).3. Tie the string to the metal.4.Poke the metal into the hole, gradually making the hole larger if you need to.This provides a seemless attachment, the string just dissapears into the hole with no other damage to the tennis ball.It is also very strong, providing the metal bit is long enough!------------------be nice, life's to short for shit.

errrm I intend to live forever, or at least die trying.

space cadetmember
19 posts
Location: Minneapolis

If you don't want to sacrifice the tennis balls or deal with hardware, you can also put them inside a pair of socks. If you have longer socks, then you have pseudo tails, too, if not the most sightly things.
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3 posts
Location: Gavle, Sweden

Yeah I sucessfully made a practice poi from old shoelaces and a couple of old socks.. but now I wonder.. How do you go about the handle? These shoelaces really rip into the flesh of my fingers and give me burns and whatnot else.. Anyone have any good handle making techniques for shoelace poi's ?

vanizeSILVER Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,899 posts
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

My practice poi consist of 10 gauge ball chain and small stuffed animals (Winny the pooh and pigglet) which have small aluminum carbiners clipped around their necks and are attached to the chain via key rings. The nature of the stuffed animals makes impacts hurt less and not bounce around as much as tennis balls. The ball chain keeps things from tangling up too much.


Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

82 posts
Location: Perf, australia

mmm.... i figured life would be easiest if i just practised with unlit wicks, even if they did fray a little.everyone else told me to replace them with tennisballs. i refused to listen.One concussion later and i think socks are a damn fine idea (even tennis balls seem a little firm for my damaged skull's liking).although i can unclip my wicks, i'm wondering if it's possible to just stick the wicks inside socks, so theyre same size/weight, just a little softer.

750 posts
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia

I've made some pretty cool practice poi. Check them out here sewing the ball into the bag - you can be sure it will never come loose, the eyelet strengthens the point at which the cord is tied and the noose means that the harder you swing, the tighter the knot becomes - everyone wins
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The swivel was kind of a mistake. I didn't know how big I needed it, so I picked this one (10mm swivel). As it turns out, the swivel works nicely as a counterweight - I can wrap the ball and then throw the counterweight to unwind it
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Courage is the man who can stop after only one peanut


Location: London

after whacking myself painfully with virgin kevlar poi, i ended up making up my practice poi out of koosh balls.i took a (new) shoelace and pushed it thru the center of a koosh ball. a simple knot held it in place just fine. i tried tying it on the loops built into a koosh, but the stretching of the loop made it feel weird. and i say new shoelace, because i don't think i could have gotten it thru the koosh without the plastic wrapping on the end of the lace.also, you may want to use a stiffer cord than shoelace, as when they get tangled, it's much nastier to get them untangled than with the 1/8" steel of a fire poi.swivels: take your pick. i used #6 size fishing swivels. (really big ones)for finger holders, i picked up a cheap pair of leather gloves at the hardware store. cut them into (a pair of) 1" X 8" strips. fold one in half. insert a grommet at the end. (grommet kits can be found in the camping section of any dept. store). to make the nice birdseye type of loop, cut a slit an inch and a half long or so, longways, down the center of the strip to allow one to slip the end of the finger-hold thru the slit to make the birdseye.assemble the whole thing.i like the koosh because they make a (albeit much quieter) whooshing sound as they go around, similar to lit fire poi. and they don't hurt like tennis balls.

45 posts
Location: Bath UK

check out complete instructions....

errrm I intend to live forever, or at least die trying.


When I made my practice poi, I took four old socks, rolled one up into a ball and stuck it inside another and balled that one. I secured it with a piece of wire, also making a loop so I can clip it to the end of my chains. Then I took some duct tape and wrapped it tightly around the socks to "seal" it. The tighter you wind the tape, the better, because the poi will be smaller and easier to manoeuvere. Do the same with the other two socks. Socks don't hurt as badly either.
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Whiffle Squeekaddict
416 posts
Location: Hartford, CT USA

hmmm, well heres how i do mine and they involve no metal and just string and tennis balls, which equals very little pain, ok, first take a long nail, and punch a hole straight through the middle of the tennis ball, now take a wooden dowel and sharpen one end, and drill a hole towards the other end, now you have a fairly large needle, thread your string through the hole in the dowel, and then using the needle dowel, pull the string through the middle of the tennis ball and out the other side, remove the needle and tie an 00ber knot in the string, now it wont go back through the tennis ball, tie finger loops on the other end of the string and you have simple painless poi, works very well.

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

ZoltarBRONZE Member
282 posts
Location: Beyond Time, South of Melbourne, Australia


Well I think you are all being a bit whoosey.. strings and socks and fluffy stuff!!!! Sheeeshhh. I am a total beginner, and nowhere near trying fire yet, but I have made 2 designs of practice poi which work well and can just be attached onto my normal chains. Yeah, the second model has some hurty bits, but its all part of the fun.

Design one Take a rectangle piece of canvas/nylon (I used an old backpack) of the dimensions 10cm x 20cm. Fold in half, and sew up the two sides, leaving one end open. Now you should have a little pocket. Put about cup of rice in it. Now sew up the open end. Then I got some metal eyelets and put one in a corner of the poi-bag. This is easily attached to chains using the chains quicklink. This model is softer than a tennis ball when it hits you. The only problem I had was my sewing is not that flash so occasionally when the poi hit little bits of rice fly out. Its not a real prob yet, just that when using inside wifey gets a bit upset bout the lounge looking like the floor after a wedding.

Design two Take a tennis ball. Heat up a small screwdriver and punch a hole in the top of the ball. Turn over the ball. Take a sharp knife/scalpel and cut a U on the opposite side to the hole you punched. Now take an eyebolt (smaller the better) push it through the punch hole. Turn over ball and lift the U shaped flap. Using pointy nose pliers put two washers and then the nut on the eyebolt inside the ball and tighten. Then I dripped some superglue on nut/thread to keep it in place. Then just glue the U flap shut. This can now simply be attached to chain via quicklink. This model hurts more when you whack yourself. but they dont spill stuff all over the house wifey is much happier.

So much fire, so little body hair...

43 posts

my first set of poi i made was i punctured the tennis ball wildley twice, and put a carabiner, (wall or mountain climing hook with a springy clip on it) and rammed that through the holes, then put a split ring on it so i can take it off and put on my kevlar tips/ beaming poi

Dicipline Focus Damage

750 posts
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia

That practice set that I posted last year didn't last too long. Now I have a set with a 10cm eye-bolt rammed through a tennis ball with 2 nuts holding it in place. Was a bit dangerous with big nuts sticking out so I padded them with foam and duck taped the whole thingy - lasted me a long time, still twirling.

They are pretty damn heavy (heavier than my soaked fire wicks) but I like the feeling of heavier poi.

Courage is the man who can stop after only one peanut

1,591 posts
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

I Made my practice wicks last night.

I took two tennis balls, cut a big slit on one side with a pair of tin snips. I took s crew driver and poked two holes about 3/4 inch apart from each other. I proceeded to poke the screw driver in the hole from either side and wiggle it around to make the holes a bit bigger.

I bought some really small steel braided cable (like breakline cable, the stuff everyone uses on poi) and cut two pieces the size of the loops I wanted protruding from my tennisball's. I took one end of this cut piece and poked it through the hole. I took a pair of needle nose pliers and poked them through the other hole. I pinched the end of the cable I had just poked through with the needle nose pliers (inside the tennis ball, accessed by the slit in the back. I pulled the pliers out and with them came the cable. Then I put a two hole cable criper on the cable, feeded both ends into the crimper and crimped it with a pair of long handle pliers. Repeat for ball#2.

It would be easier to poke both ends of your cut cable through the holes from the outside and then crimp it inside the tennis ball but I never realized this untill afterwards. Although it is harder to gauge the size of your loops when crimping it on the inside, but not much harder.

I also fixed swivel clips onto the end of my chains with cable crimpers because I don't want to use key chains for anything. I don't have handles on them yet because I a)ran out of crimpers and need to buy some new ones and b)Need to get some handle loops.

2,419 posts
Location: la-la land

I used a knitting needle to shove the shoe lace all the way thru and out the other side.. I made the two ends into a funky knot and did macramee handles.. but I'm lucky that I've been taught to tie some pretty knots..

the easiest practise poi are over the knee sock with tennis ball in them - or you can use apples and eat them for extra energy after you've done!

I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..

Phuhzzzie Wuhzzzie the Pumpkin Kingmember
141 posts
Location: Melbourne, the new Land of Nod

I find that the easiest way to make practice tennis ball poi is to get somebody else to do it for you. (or at least the tricky stabbing the tennis ball part)
What I do is I go for a search through the $2 and other crappy junk shops around town for tennis ball style dog toys. These aren't much more than a couple of dollars each and come in a wide range of colours and patterns. You're bound to find something you like
Look for something with a rope or handle attached to a tennis ball. These little beauties have several good points:

1. Lots of pretty colours.
2. They're cheap.
3. Because they're designed to have dogs tear them apart they are fairl strong.
4. They're cheap.
5. All the work you need to do with them is to attach your chain/ rope/ whatever and handle to them and start a swingin'. Some already come with the rope attatched.
6. They're cheap.
7. I told you to

I like them because they cut the hard work of fiddling around with knives and hardware and junk and.......................... They're cheap

[ 16. November 2002, 16:18: Message edited by: Phuhzzzie Wuhzzzie the evil robot ]

A wise man once said to me, Hey! You! Get out of my wardrobe! and in a way, I guess he was right.

Jade Lynxmember
239 posts
Location: Laguna Beach, but i live in Denver, Colo, USA

I made mine from sweat socks and nylon strap dog leashes, with Mardi Gras beads to weight them a bit...

The one thing i can add is that if you use carabiners, use the kind that screw down, rather than the easy-clip kind. The easy clip kind can clip onto the cord of the other poi and clip them together. And, as we all know, if anything untoward happens when spinning, it automatically results in a painful whack...

We got the MikeZ in the house, woot!Glue the ham, hat baby!

8 posts
Location: ff


Here is a tip....

put the shoestirng through the hole in tha tennisball and a bottle-top with a hole in the really good....
also nice exuse to buy more beer....


SpitFireGOLD Member
Mand's Girl....and The Not So Shy One
2,723 posts
Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada

Another option is to use webbing (rock climbing webbing), and make a "harness" for the ball using grommets.

If you take two pieces of webbing, and lay them out in a cross, grommet the webbing where it crosses.

Place the ball on the grommet, and pull up the ends of the webbing and grommet them together. You can use the a quicklink to attach chains or rope to the grommet.

No pictures, sadly. Hopefully the description is clear enough.

Vanize's beanie baby poi work well, also...I've used both. The beanie babies give you a weight that is close to wick weight than tennis balls.

Solitude sometimes speaks to you, and you should listen.

1 post

Made my practice poi from tennis balls, poking a hole on either side of them and doubled the length of string I used, wrapping it up around the ball and tying it to the looped end on top. I used a knitting needle to pull the string through the ball.

From there, I tied some spare sheer material (or scarves would work) to the tops to simulate the drag that fire would create moving through the air.

I then attached them to dog leashes with nylon handles. Works great for me. The chains are a bit long but I solved that by wearing some fingerless gloves and wrapping the chain around my hand once or twice -- depending on what I'm practicing.

Mother_Natures_SonSILVER Member
Rampant whirler.
2,418 posts
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia!

Lol. 6 year bump of a thread there.

Honestly, I think that tennis balls are waaay too light, I too often see a style coming out of people with weights that small that tend to illustrate that they don't 100% know where the poi are. Extensions not completely in line from arm to poi head and that kind of thing...

Not saying anything about you there, Blue_Morphae, just saying that in general having a weight that small tends to lead to not knowing where the poi are exactly...

But on that point, the dog leashes would be heavy-ish... is the weight of the "cord" more than the head? And if so does this make much difference to the way they fly through the air? Certainly would when thrown, but what about normal use? How about the feel and how well you know where your poi are? smile