Ready, stack and... hands become a blur

Felice Then (far right), seven, and Kuek Xin Yee, eight, from Zhangde Primary School were among some 180 primary school pupils who tried their stacking skills at the Singapore Cup Stacking Championship yesterday.
Felice Then (far right), seven, and Kuek Xin Yee, eight, from Zhangde Primary School were among some 180 primary school pupils who tried their stacking skills at the Singapore Cup Stacking Championship yesterday.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

It may not sound like a sport - stacking plastic cups into various pyramid-shape formations then breaking them down into neat piles again.

But players of speed stacking or sport stacking, as it is known, consider it just that.

And once their sleight of hand is witnessed - they can arrange cups in pre-determined sequences in speeds of under five seconds - it is hard to argue with them.

Some 180 primary school pupils participated in a cup stacking competition at the YMCA of Singapore yesterday, testing their dexterity, concentration and teamwork in individual, team and relay events.

Such is their speed that hands become a blur and winning margins can come down to just fractions of a second.

LESSON IN TEAMWORK

It helps the kids build up dexterity and teaches them teamwork. We want them to pick up a skill and also learn how to work with each other.

MS LYNETTE YEO, assistant general secretary for social enterprises at the YMCA of Singapore

The YMCA introduced cup stacking in March as part of its after-school care enrichment programme across its 20 student-care centres. Yesterday's event gave pupils an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Through weekly one-hour sessions, around 2,000 pupils have tried the activity, which originated in California in the 1980s.

Ms Lynette Yeo, assistant general secretary for social enterprises at the YMCA of Singapore, said cup stacking is not just about competition. "It helps the kids build up dexterity and teaches them teamwork. We want them to pick up a skill and also learn how to work with each other."

Of the eight categories held during the competition, three were individual-based. Another five involved participants - aged between seven and 12 - stacking cups in relays and collaboratively in pairs using one hand each.

Mr Mark Lee, director of team-building firm Red Dot Explorer, which co-organised the competition, said: "In cup stacking, if you drop a cup, you have to stop, fix the problem, and continue. It's a life lesson in developing resilience."

Cup stacking has been gaining popularity here and earlier this month an inaugural international competition was organised by the Singapore branch of the World Sport Stacking Association.

It attracted 112 participants from Singapore and another 50 foreign competitors from places including Australia and Taiwan.

Jayden Soh, 10, a Primary 4 pupil from Sengkang Green Primary School, was one of yesterday's participants. He said: "I enjoy cup stacking because it trains my hand muscles and is a test of how fast I can be."

Maevis Lim, Kaelyn Yeo and Kalista Wong, all aged 11, and Primary 5 pupils from St Margaret's Primary School, took part in the team-based categories.

Said Maevis: "It's fun working together with your friends - plus, you don't feel so stressed compared to competing as an individual."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 12, 2016, with the headline 'Ready, stack and... hands become a blur'. Print Edition | Subscribe