Sport stacking: Stacking up internationally

Stacking? Yes, stacking. John McGlashan pupil College Ben Lovelock (15), heading back to the United States for a world tournament next year, states his claim for stacking to be considered a sport.

Ben Lovelock works on his stacking routine. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Ben Lovelock works on his stacking routine. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Sport stacking is an amazing activity that originated at a youth programme in California in the early 1980s. The objective is to upstack and downstack specially-designed plastic cups in different pyramid formations as fast as you can.

It started as kids finding something to do when they were bored, but now it is one of the fastest growing sports in America.

Some people are slightly sceptical about it. They say it isn't a real sport, but they are totally wrong.

It is just like sports such as lawn bowls, golf, snooker and archery - sports based on skill.

You can even work up a sweat.

There are now hundreds of competitions all over the world for it every year, the glamour event being the world championships held in April.

Even New Zealand has a national tournament, held in Palmerston North every September.

Competitive stacking features three routines: the 3-3-3, the 3-6-3 and the cycle. It starts with preliminaries, where competitors go up to the judging table and do every routine. For each routine, they get two practices and three official attempts. The best attempt counts.

Then the top five (sometimes top 10) from each age group go through to the finals, and go through the same format.

The stacker with the best combined time (3-3-3 plus 3-6-3 plus cycle) is the overall winner.

I first found out about stacking in 2008. My cousins had recently moved south and had been introduced to it at their old school in Waimate.

My aunt showed me the routines. At first, I thought it was just a one-hit wonder. She then showed me the world record on You Tube.

That 30-second video changed the course of my life. I was instantly amazed, and decided I wanted to be as fast as that.

In January 2009, I got my first set of official Speed Stacks cups, and have been practising ever since.

I have competed in seven competitions, and been to the United States twice (Denver and Dallas) with the New Zealand team, the Black Stacks. I have also won two national tournaments and finished second twice.

Sport stacking is fantastic because anyone can do it, no matter size or age.

It helps improve hand-eye co-ordination and ambidexterity, being able to use both sides of the brain. It has certainly helped me with my other sports, cricket and basketball.

It may all sound dumb, nerdy or just a pile of rubbish - but once you see it, you won't believe your eyes.

On that first video, showing the world record at the time, Emily Fox did the cycle stack in 7.43sec.

My personal best now is 5.90sec.

I guess it just clicks with some people.