To play with a kendama, one holds the toy, and pulls the ball upward so that it may either be caught in one of the cups or land with the hole on the spike. More advanced tricks include sequential balances, juggles, and catches. Many tricks involving the kendama have yet to be discovered.  There are eleven prescribed moves on the kendama trick list for achieving a kyu ranking and several more for a dan ranking. A 10-kyu rating (the lowest beginner grade), for example, is attained by simply catching the ball in the largest cup. A book published by the Japan Kendama Association lists 101 different tricks for the toy and there are supposedly tens of thousands of trick variations. Different stances and grips are required to perform different tricks.
While most people play with kendamas for personal satisfaction, competitions do take place, especially in Japan. Participation in such competitions entails performing lists of tricks in sequence or completing particular tricks repeatedly for as long as possible. Additionally, tricks may be performed head to head with a rival to determine a winner. The first competitor to fail a trick loses.
In the trick moshikame (もしかめ?), the ball is juggled between the big cup and the smallest cup at the bottom repeatedly. A Japanese children\'s song of the same name is often sung to help with timing.