Plate Spinning

By Ken Chu 1997


Quick Tricks
Advanced Tricks
Even Harder Tricks
Plate Passing


Getting Started

To get started you must of course first get your plate spinning. There are two ways of starting a plate:

Normal (Beginners) Spin up
First hold your plate vertically with your subordinate hand, with the rims facing the dominant hand. Take a stick with your dominant hand and point it to the top of the rim, now let go of your plate and let it hangs on the stick.
Now slowly rotate the top of your stick clockwise (clockwise at the bottom of the plate), having the bottom part of the stick fixed at one point. Increase the speed of rotation gradually and the plate should start rising to a horizontal orientation. When you feel the plate is going fast enough hold your stick very firm and the plate should slot into its position.
When your plate slows down after a while just move your stick to the edge and rotate to gain speed again.
Rapid Spin up
This method should be learnt after the beginners' spin up, as the beginners spin up is quite useful for maintaining spin.
To do a rapid spin up hold your plate in any hand horizontally by its rims and simply spin it and catching it on a stick on either the same hand or a different hand.
This method is useful since it only requires one hand, and on plates with thin rims it is more reliable too (it looks very silly in a performance to drop your plate during a spin up). It also looks "flashier"

After this you can try and do some tricks.

Throwing a plate

Throwing a plate is easy - "Just bend your elbow and go for it" is probably the best advice. All you have to do is lob your plate up and then catch it.

Catching a plate

Catching a plate is a bit more challenging, to do a simple catch first throw it up a little bit (about 10cm) then aim the end of the stick to the centre of your plate.

If you do an off-centre catch and it wobbles about do a "beginner" spin up again.

Quick Tricks

Australian catch

This trick probably isn't invented by an Australian, it is called this because it involves turning your plate upside down (Australians may call this trick "European catch"!) To do this trick hold your stick in the middle, throw your plate up and turn your stick upside down and catch it with the end of your stick.

Doesn't sound very interesting does it? However it is quite good as a "link" to other more interesting tricks.

Flourish catch

This trick is probably best done after an Australian catch, when your stick is upside down have your hand ready in a flourishing position and throw your plate up, do a flourish and catch it.

It looks best if you throw the plate low and finish the flourish just before you catch it.


This is probably the closest trick to resemble the famous diablo suicide trick - it looks nothing near as impressive though.

To do this just toss up your plate, but at the same time let go of the stick as well - so they both go up and down at the same time, and then catch both of them afterwards... yes it is very unimpressive.

A more interesting version is to actually flip the stick 1/2 turn or a full turn (if you're good!) while throwing.

Advanced Tricks

Under the leg catch

Catching under the leg is difficult, since you have to throw your plate really accurately to ensure that you don't have to move very far for your catch (otherwise you'll lose your balance), which means a good balancer has a (slightly) greater margin for error.

It helps before you practice to just move your stick under your leg to see where the end of the stick points to, and remember that position. That way you'll know where to aim.

Behind the back catch

Catching behind the back isn't as hard as you think, again it helps to work out where the end of your stick end up and aim there.

Begin practicing with two sticks, have a plate spinning on the subordinate hand and your dominant hand behind your back with end of stick pointing just above the shoulder on the subordinate side. Now throw the plate up gently towards the other stick and catch it.

Once you got that on both sides you can try throwing and catching with the same hand (and then if you're feeling suicidal do pirouettes)


Backpass involves throwing a plate from one hand to the other - both behind the back!

To do it you have to catch a plate behind your back then try and bring your other arm behind the back too (they will be crossed), then throw the plate from one end to the other.

This should only be done if you feel confident with throwing and catching behind your back (or it will hurt...), throw your plate higher at first then try and bring the height down as you progress... it is possible to do an almost horizontal pass at eye height (the plate travels in front of the body and you have to reach for the plate from the back).

Albert / Trebla catch

This trick is difficult - don't try it until you can do most of the above.

Like most "Albert" tricks, it involves doing something through the legs front to back - without lifting the feet. In this case the stick goes through the legs and catching a falling plate.

A "Trebla" is an "Albert" back to front ("Albert-treblA"), with appropriate face expressions this can be a good comedy trick...

Also this trick is one occasion where the "suicide" trick is made to look good (when you catch it with an Albert or Trebla).

Even Harder Tricks

These are those "climax" or "grand finale" show ending tricks.

Stick on a stick

Stick on a stick requires a great deal of practice and good equipment.

"Stick on a stick" involves spinning a plate on a stick, which is itself balanced on another stick! It looks impossible, but it works!

Have two sticks. Spin a plate on your subordinate hand, holding it right at the end (the end should point against the centre of your palm), then point the stick on your dominant hand to the end of the subordinate stick. When you feel the sticks are steady let go of the subordinate hand and try and balance the stick on the other stick.

A thick stick obviously helps and it also helps to have a sharp stick (and smooth plate) so that the stick won't turn as you try and balance it (when friction against the plate is greater than the friction against the other stick) - this makes it extremely difficult. Of course you can also cheat by drilling a small hole in the centre of the end of the stick.

Two with one stick

I was going to call this "two in one hand", but it would have been mistaken as the boring "holding two plates with two sticks in one hand" trick so Two with one stick is more appropriate.

You've guessed it, it's the plate version of juggling two balls in one hand! This trick looks amazingly difficult but in fact there is plenty of time to spare in this trick.

Get two plates spinning on two sticks first, then throw a plate up high with the subordinate hand, then as the plate is falling down throw the dominant one up, then catch the subordinate one, then throw it and catch the dominant one, and so on...

If it's your final trick you can throw your subordinate stick away as you throw the plate up and audiences will be shocked and will be even more impressed.

Be ready to duck.

Three plate cascade

This trick is possible!

Have one plate spinning on the subordinate hand (one stick) and two in the other (with two sticks). Throw the subordinate plate up (then throw away the stick) and transfer (i.e. just pass along) one plate from the dominant hand to the subordinate one, now a plate is falling towards the dominant hand - throw a plate to the subordinate side and catch that falling plate, and so on, and so on...

This trick will definitely win you applause.

Plate Passing

Plate exchange

This is the easiest plate passing, have two spinners each with a plate and simply throw the plate to each other at the same time.

To avoid collision either throw one higher than the other or have one person passing on one side and another passing on the other side.

Cascade pass

Cascade pass looks quite good, this time have two spinners one with two plates and the other with one plate, now the one with two plates throw one to the other spinner, then the partner throws one back while catching the one you threw.

You may find it easier to do reverse cascade (throwing over the incoming plate).

Group passing

If you have enough proficient spinners you can try group passing, this can be done in many ways, in a circle each exchanging round the ring or maybe four people doing cascade passes in a cross pattern (two passing one way and two passing perpendicular to it)

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