Boppo (Bruce Tiemann) posted this to the net in June of 1995:
____General Stuff_____ Philosophy: numbers juggling is hard: 3 tricks take minutes, hours, maybe days to learn; numbers tricks take, um, _rather_ longer. Unless you possess rare talent, expect to spend months on five balls, and years on seven, to get them comfortable. Warm up - literally and figuratively. Don't practice your hardest trick first! And cold, clammy hands don't have the responsiveness of nice warm ones. For the hell of it, try juggling when your hands and arms are really cold, and then go soak your arms up to the elbows in water as hot as you can stand, wiggling your fingers the whole time, for a full minute. Dry off, and immediately try the same trick again. When you juggle, try to notice tension anywhere in your body. Try to relax that which isn't needed - do you clench your jaw, or your back, or your shoulders, for a trick that really only involves your hands and forearms? Remember to breathe when you juggle(!) If you have to hold your breath to do five clubs, you won't go past ~30 seconds, or maybe a minute at most, EVER! Even if you have to tense up to throw all the stuff out of your hands, make an effort to try to breathe again when you get down to juggling, with only one object per hand. Use nice props: The Flying K's "Challenge" proves an expert can juggle three of ANYTHING - so you might not notice if your props really suck when you do three. Expecting numbers to command your attention for quite a while, in other words, that you'll be spending LOTS of time with your chosen numbers objects, you might as well really like them: get nicely weighted clubs, or quality beanbags (or balls, if that's your fancy). When at conventions, check out all the vendors, and try things. But be aware that beanbags soften up with use (which balls don't); ask numbers jugglers what props they use, and how old they are and if they like them. Tendonitis might get you. Symptoms: sore along tendons that hurt when you extend them. Trainers say: (1) consume anti-inflammatories, f.ex. aspirin, ibuprofen before exercise, (2) heat affected region before exercise (using the water as hot as you can stand up to your elbows thing given above), and cold such as ice compresses afterwards, and (3) skip practicing the lead-filled tennis balls if that started it! Two schools of thought about how to practice: "performers" vs. "hobbyists" This is really a continuum... I identify Dan Bennett, Anthony Gatto, and Steve Ragatz as almost pure "performers" and myself, Alan Morgan, and Bruce Sarafian as more or less pure "hobbyists." (Don't mistake this identification as an endorsement... realise the different points of view, and use what methods best suit you.) Performers: don't like to drop: "don't practice mistakes", only try to flash with clean finish, then flash +1 with clean finish, then flash+2... and only try to juggle or run later, but always finish cleanly don't make wild saves; stand still, keep clean patterns put off 7 until 5 is really solid... and put off 5 'till 4 is. Also, Dan Bennett thinks your mind stews on the last attempt of every individual trick you try each session. So stop on a good one! Let your mind stew on that one. If you get lucky on your first try of a trick, stop right there for the day(!) and try something else. Hobbyists: don't care about drops: "it can't hurt to try; if you're not dropping, you're not practicing hard-enough tricks" try to run a trick ASAP, and go 'till you wipe out willing to lunge, making wild saves or walking about trying to learn 5? a few hilarious minutes with 7 and even 9 will make 5 seem slow and empty! "You won't know where your present limits are 'till you have, without a doubt, exceeded them." Consider working out if simple effort, let alone accuracy, of target trick is a struggle: push-ups, chin-ups, "air juggle 11" Notice how buff Anthony Gatto and Bruce Sarafian are... maybe there's something to it. Since Burlington, I have started such arm exercises, and I attribute my recent success with 9 and 10 balls in part to it. Terminology: "flash" of n objects = n catches; "straight flash" = n throws, n catches, 0 drops. "qualify" = 2n catches, currently accepted "legal run" criterion. "run" and "solid"... no widely accepted definition; here are some: 100 catches; able to perform without likelihood of drops; 1 minute (which is REALLY long!); free to stop at will; "Solid is a state of mind, not a run length." Three times around, three times in a row, no drops, on first attempt with no warmup. _____General practice Techniques____________ Garbage juggling: n different things, tennis or whiffle balls, lead balls. -> if you can do these, the standard pattern with your favorite beanbags will be easy! Tricks: Try to learn tricks with the target numbers patterns, as soon as the normal pattern starts to run. Over the top, backcrosses, anything. As above, if you can do these even barely, the standard pattern will seem easier. Siteswaps with 0s, 1s, and/or 2s, in addition to the target throws: 5 0 1, 5 2 5 1 2, 5 5 0 5 0, 5 5 2, 5 5 5 1, 5 5 5 5 0 to work on 5; 6 6 0, 6 6 1 6 1, 6 6 6 2, 6 6 6 6 1, 6 6 6 6 6 0 for help with 6, etc. For many people, these tricks are easier to run than the target number, but yet provide aspects of the same sort of difficulty that the target presents. For example, scooping the 6s enough in 6 6 6 6 1 and even 6 6 1 6 1. Clubs do not lend themselves so well to siteswaps with 1s as balls do, sadly. Vary the "usual" pattern. Try it too: fast, slow, high, low, narrow, wide, high & low "dwell ratio," far in front, up too close, etc, and in combinations - also run with n-2, especially way up high, too fast, and with low dwell. Doing these expands your "comfort zone" and makes the default place for each of these parameters that much easier. Notice what errors you make (may need another person, esp. a juggler, to watch): things like walking in circles, left hand throws too low, 2nd rt. hand throw always goes way in front of you, or doesn't cross... -> you want to make different errors on different attempts: if it's always the _same_ _error_ then you need to work on fixing that, until it isn't the error you make _every_ _time_. Also, exaggerate that error, then exaggerate the correction; (so if your left hand throws in front of you, make it throw _behind_ _you_) now the "correct" way is somewhere in between, but you'll never get there if you stay on one side of the error-correction only. Attend to crossing point: If launch position is correct and crossing point is hit at right speed, then the rest of arc is assured. This gives the benefit of quicker feedback if a throw is in error: it gets to crossing point much sooner than it crests, the latter which might otherwise be thought a good place to look. You might think of a small hoop you need to get all the objects aimed through, coming alternately from each side, which is located at the crossing point. (Looking there, of course you need to use peripheral vision to make the catches more so than if you look at the top.) Another image is to think that you are pummeling a target floating at the crossing point. Hit it equally hard on both sides. Don't let up. These last two images have helped me make wild saves: there's a localized place to aim for, even if the pattern has "fallen apart" or a wild catch is brought in. Try to keep your elbows more or less pinned to your sides. It seems claustrophobic, not moving them much, but try it anyway. I found it helped me make better throws during longer runs. Later, I noticed (on the Baltimore tape) that Gatto hardly moves his elbows at all. Watch him. More generally, watch people doing tricks you want to learn. What do they do differently than you do? Some things to look for: How high is the crossing point? How wide is the pattern at the base, and how much scoop is there? What motions do their hands go through? Arcs? Back and forth? Triangles? How do these differ from your own movements? If these people are able to error-correct things that kill your own runs, try to discern their method of error-recovery. (One of my methods: throw everything after a problem a bit high. This buys time, and keeps those throws out of the way of the bad one. Should the problem be fixed, the pattern can gently be brought back down later.) _____Balls______ Most people prefer beanbags to balls. Many find tennis balls too big and too light and bouncy, to be good, but some sand, water, or pennies in each one tames them, and keeps them from rolling everywhere to boot. Silicones are expensive and dangerously bouncy, but feel sooo good. I find them too heavy and dangerous for 8 or more. They enforce "performer" style: You'd rather catch them cleanly _now_ than risk a failed error recovery and subsequent bonk on the head _soon_. "Drop test" - beanbags only. Only consider where they hit the ground or better, the sand, and not where they roll to. Of course, collisions void the results - but do it over instead of sweating where they "would have gone" - and worry instead about having them not collide! Throw ONLY, and do your best to clear your mind of any thoughts of catches. With your mind so cleared, you might find the throws are so good you try to catch 'em anyway. DON'T at first; let 'em drop. You want to hear an even rhythm when they hit, and to find them collected in piles right below your hands (but maybe a bit wider). If one hand always throws low, or if the throws are wild, you'll spot it in the drop test: (The impacts will be uneven, and the "piles" will be spread out, respectively.) Also, if one hand always throws in front of you, or you want to walk in a circle, you'll see that too. The drop test is useful because when you juggle at the limit of your ability _and_try_to_diagnose_the_problem_at_the_same_time, well, you're busy! The drop test breaks those tasks apart: first you do the throws, and _then_ you step back and see where they hit, and listen to the rhythm... and you can fully attend to _each_ _part_ since they're now separate. (Easier: Get a Dad named Nick who tells you everything you do wrong, and picks up your props to boot. Less good: videotape your sessions, and look for what you might be doing particularly right or wrong. Other jugglers might be able to give you the same sort of feedback.) "Catching" beanbags or balls during juggling is a bit of a misnomer. They're not solid grabs, like shaking their hands, but instead are almost mere re-directions. With a cup-shaped hand, if a ball smacks the base of your fingers, your hand may close automatically around it, saving you the effort of having to do it yourself, especially if the things are > 100g each. Though it isn't necessary to actually grab the ball during a juggle, this automatic closure is certainly better than having to think about gripping the ball, every single catch. If you drop a lot, juggling in front of a sofa or bed can save you some picking-up time. And if you buy a dozen balls, you can distribute the whole lot of them around the room before needing to go fetch them. ________Evens vs. Odds____________ Odds patterns: cascade, outside halfshower Evens patterns: sync. and async. fountain, inside and outside halfshower, wimpy (= synchronous center cross) Cascade: want arcs to cross at ~90 degrees up there: this means wide base, and throw across, not vertically. Try to make the pattern "too wide" - it will be a bit more arm effort to sustain from all the scoop needed, but there will be lots more room, and a bad throw will less likely collide. If it's a tall and skinny pattern, the arcs will be "rubbing against" one another for lots of length, making a bad throw much likelier to result in collision. If the arcs cross through each other at 90 degrees, when a ball goes through the crossing point, it screams through and is never heard from again, from the other arc's point of view. Here, a throw can be bad and still not hit the others. Fountain: This pattern requires _lots_ _of_ _scoop_; it's not tall and skinny either, for the same reason as given above. The throws are not only not vertical, they actually go to the outside and look crossing if you bring your hands "past together" at the base. For n-in-one-hand, lots of things are easier than doing them in a circle: "in, in, out", columns, cascade, and any which way. But these are not easier to do in stereo than the circle, except columns with 4. "Master/slave": even if you can't run 3 in your bad hand by itself, try 6 anyway. Instead of thinking "Left hand, do three even though you can't" think "Left hand, mimic the right hand, whatever it's doing." Halfshowers: height ratio dictates rhythm; to find a comfortable rhythm, you need to adjust the relative heights of throws. Some adjustment of rhythm can be obtained by changing the dwell of *one* of the hands, but not as much as with changing the heights. (I prefer having the two hands have the same dwell.) Wimpy pattern: both hands cross, and one hand throws a tiny bit earlier and also higher than the other, so the balls don't hit at the crossing point. Most people find this easier than the other evens patterns; some even find it easier to qualify than n/2 in their better hand! _____Clubs______ Numbers clubs really help: they're long, narrow, light. JuggleBug RYB are my least favorite, followed by Europeans: these are heavy and with hard-hitting handles. Americans, though huge and hard to start, are surprisingly light and also lofty, which amounts to slower patterns. IMO excellent clubs to work with 5. This is a matter of taste, of course. Radical Fish are IMO good # clubs, but Renegade #s clubs, are markedly easier for me for 7. YMMV. Flashy vs. "good" and natural spins: Because clubs rotate with your arm as you come up for the release, they'll spin anyway, even without any "wrist" action at all. I call these "natural spins," and they're quite high. Thus, slow spin = more time and hence a slower pattern. Also if there's no added wrist spin, then throw height becomes connected to the number of spins: simply adjust throw height to correct overspun/underspun throws - if they're underspun, don't think "need more spin," think "throws aren't high enough." However, slow spins, and slow patterns won't look very flashy, compared to forehead-height triples. Query: Do you want to look flashy, or do you want to juggle 5 (6,7) clubs? Again, I don't advocate one style over the other. Try both and see what works. But: Most people juggle five clubs with doubles that are *lots* higher than they do doubles with, if you ask them to please show you three clubs doubles. Learning four clubs with singles is good practice for learning how to throw natural spins: It gets awfully quick fast if you help the singles along with your wrists! Instead, relax the throws. Now throw doubles that same way... this is how to do the doubles for five clubs. Deep dips - a home place to return after each catch, and a long runway for each launch. After each catch, bring the head of the club down along your leg, almost down to vertical. No matter where you catch it, dip it back down to this place prior to throwing it. Passers often do nice dips; watch them and copy it. Siteswap throw heights: if 3s are singles, 4s are doubles, 5s are triples, 6s quads. If 4s are singles, then 5s are doubles, 6s are triples, and 7s quads. So, if you want to practice 5s (as doubles) from within 4 clubs, doing four _singles_ gives the best handspeed match, for example. Evens vs odds: Point head to where the throw is going: crossing vs. not. In other words, if the sun were directly overhead, the shadow of the club should point tilted towards where it will be caught: 4s and 6s need the shadow of the knob more towards the center of your body, the heads outwards towards the _same hand_, and 5s and 7s need to have the shadows of the knobs towards the outside, and the heads closer to the center, towards the _other hand_. Eventually, the clubs will be pointing almost directly away from you, that is, not tilted at all, but the temptation to go the wrong way is so strong, especially with even throws, that it's wise to aim for overcorrection, and thereby get almost enough. Odds patterns: cascade, halfshower Evens patterns: columns, fountain, halfshower Cascade: angle heads in. Especially try to vary wide vs. narrow-based patterns; 5 is kinda wide, and 7 is very wide, at the bottom. Five clubs takes _lots_ more space than three! Also, the cascade CROSSES. Try to throw "too wide" so you have to zip out to catch 'em. That may be hard to keep doing, but at least they won't collide, the usual problem with >3 club cascades. Also, for five clubs, pay attention to the handles right before the catches. Make good catches the first time! There is very little time to adjust a bad catch, adjusting it in your hand, before it needs to be thrown again. Instead, try to twist your hand in any way possible to make a catch such that you are holding the club *exactly* where you want to be holding it for the next throw, like how high up the handle you want to be holding it. During the dip, do your best to erase the weird motion needed to make the good catch. Halfshower: much like cascade, but look out for overspinning the lower throw. It's a Zen-like HARD-gentle-HARD-gentle... Passers note: your left only does singles - that may be all it's used to, and therefore much better at! Rhythm of half-shower patterns: 4:2/1 (four clubs: doubles over singles) is galloped; 4:3/1 is async; 5:2/1 and 5:3/1 are synchronous; 5:4/1 is async; 6:3/2 is galloped Columns: easier for 4, but less helpful than fountain as stepping stone for 5, and of no use for learning 6. It might work to learn columns first as stepping stone to the fountain, prior to 5. Fountain: KEEP HEADS POINTED OUT OR THE KNOBS WILL SMACK YOUR WRISTS!!!! corollary: keep your elbows in, maybe even in front of you! Here's a warped image: Your arms are amputated at the elbows, and you need to stir a cauldron that is right in front of your belly with them. To reach the bottom of the cauldron, lean slightly forward even though it's scary how close the clubs come to your nose, and how little time you will have to get out of their way should they collide in front of your face. Also: if you face your palms together instead of up, then keeping wrists cocked back maps directly to the head being directed more out, which is good. Use lots and lots of scoop. More than you think! Grotesquely exaggerate it; it'll be about right at first. Try to make it "certainly _too_ much" - probably you can't. Extra scoop adds "muscular difficulty" to the pattern - you'll be working harder. But it alleviates "juggling difficulty" - there will be more room, fewer collisions, and ironically it will be easier to sustain, except for all the damn effort it takes. (If this isn't clear now, you'll know what I mean when you try it.) ________Rings_________ I used to juggle rings, years ago. The only thing I recall that _really_ _helped_ was thinking of 6 rings as "just like 6 clubs."