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