Poi Length Guide – Which Poi Length is Best for You?

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We have covered Types of Tethers  but what of their length? The length of poi tethers varies depending on the style of flow the user is most fond of. Let’s cover the three basic lengths and understand a little more about each of their pros and cons.

 

Short Length Poi Tethers

 

Typically the short tether length is going to measure from one’s grip in hand to one’s elbow (that includes the poi head), as the geometry of the prop with the body is an important aspect to flow artists, especially for those who choose short tethers. I say that because short tethers are great for “tech poi”, or better described, doing specific techniques with your poi. Without ever needing to wrap up the tethers for tricks that require the tethers be short, such as the Buzzsaw. The short length offers the ability to rapidly shift the poi.

Although it can also create a dizzying effect as short tethers make the poi move fast, and thus build a lot of motion and energy. Sometimes it can be hard to learn new tricks when we can’t slow down the poi very easily. But performing for others unfamiliar with the flow arts might just see a lot of motion and not be able to focus in on what you are doing. I don’t recommend short tethers if you are a beginner as you will need to be able to go slower to develop muscle memory and focus on creating an awareness that your prop is an extension of yourself. Generally, I recommend the next step up in poi length.

 

Arm’s Length/Medium Poi Tethers

 

Likely the most popular choice of length as it gives the greatest ease to versatility. This length of tether will measure from the grip in hand to the beginning of the shoulder or armpit (again, including the poi head). You can reach your hand straight up in the air and let the poi hang down to measure, or get a measuring tape if you’re ordering a set online [hyperlink]. With the poi tether at this length you can know that if you spin the poi directly out in front of you, or with the arm completely down and relaxed, the poi will not hit the ground, your body or face.


Medium poi length gives you the geometry you need to get precision in your tricking. What I love about this length is that you can find out how many fingers you need to wrap up to make them short tethers, and then practice smoothly transitioning into it. For instance, try going from a Three-Beat Weave to a Buzzsaw Flower smoothly; it feels great! The poi will move more slowly with the extended length making it easier for beginners to learn tricks, and it will be easier to think about them as an extension of the arm if they are arms length. The only con is that having a geometric length to your arm might make you look like most others, and perhaps you want to formulate a style that takes up more space, moves slower, and turns away from focusing on tech. For that I recommend our third and final length.

 

Long Poi Tethers

 

This tether can range from just an inch or two longer than your arm, to perhaps another whole forearm’s length! Any longer and you might be more interested in a rope dart [hyperlink] or perhaps puppy hammer. Long tethers offer all the options but it may take a bit more focus to get them to a precise geometric length. Long tethers make the poi head go much slower when fully extended. This makes for big beautiful flowing shapes (which crowds, I find, enjoy especially). You can do a much wider range of motions that can make your flow one of a kind, if you can wield it.


That being said, your body, and the poi, are more prone to injury as it will be more difficult to control, so consider the ground much more often. The more space you take up, the more you must manage your awareness. Since the poi are longer than your arm, the extension of self is not geometrically sound. Thus more tricky for your nervous system to adapt to. Long tethers are quite fun though, so I suggest giving them a try.

 

Some poi will come with handles or grips that are adjustable which can be a plus. Although you may have excess tether you aren’t using getting in the way. Some tethers will stretch depending on how much energy you apply to them. Sock poi for instance will stretch during usage, and unless high quality, will stretch out more and more over time.

 

There is no Wrong Choice!

 

I suggest giving different lengths a go to see what you like best. Diversify your flow arts experience! Find flowmie friends who will let you experiment with their props (treating another’s prop with the utmost respect, of course)! Check out our new Community Page to see if there may be a jam near you! Or create one and post it! No doubt you can enjoy the wide spectrum of flow arts the more you are able to extend your outreach and bring it in close. 

 

Here’s to props of all styles and sizes, just like ourselves!

 

Yours in flow,

Jesse Hart of Full Circle Phenomenal
A Sacred Flow Art Community Blogger

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