"Going in Circles"

Simon Richard Fox once yelled:

  Help !!!  Ok, I'm up to about 25-30 throws with 5 now, but I have
  this problem I simply can't shake no matter what.  After a while, my
  left hand throws go too far forward and I start turning around
  anticlockwise as a result. I've actually traced the problem to the
  first five throws I do I think.  After about 20-30 minutes the
  problem becomes much less. But in that initial stage I nearly go
  crazy. How do I stop this ??? 

  Are there any other hints on offer at this stage ?

The following advice was offered by

Allen Knutson
Robert Edward Gruhl (Orph)
Barry Friedman


good insight! practice!!!!

and yes, this has all been summarized, in files all tucked neatly away on moocow (nee' piggy). there's lots of good help tips on five. all the knowledge gleaned by those who have gone before, so you don't have to duplicate their mistakes. or, you can use their "maps" to learning five to chart your own progress ("oh yeah, now i'm at the turning clockwise phase. soon i will be thru it"), or cope with your current problem.

practice is critical. lots of it. regularly. simply doing the motion is important. your body will learn it. but, also, sometimes, use your brain. the more analytical types seem to learn more quickly, because they can diagnose systematic problems. once you recognize what you are doing, you can work to consciously correct it. (this, my friend, is coordination: making your various body parts move together as you want them to. eventually, ideally, it will be quick, graceful and unconscious. to learn it, consciousness helps). ask yourself: what am i doing here, exactly? what do i want to do? try varying things (we could call them variables): height, speed of movement, hand position, etc. think about what is going wrong. remember the basics: more needs to be faster/higher. watching people do what you want helps a lot. you will get a feel for the speed of a particular trick, and a sense for what a body doing it looks like. note the "backcross stance", for example. when you try this trick, visualize looking like that. you can often tell when you are on the right track, because you will feel like your body looks right.

but don't just let it wash over you. sometimes when you watch, do some mental work -- how far apart are their arms, and where are they holding them? how high is the pattern? for back crosses, for example, how far across midline does the hand cross in back? (haha -- trick question!).

note that it is important to watch "good people" --someone who looks graceful and easy, who makes the trick look effortless and fluid. that's usually good form. it's also the result of practice. lots of practice.

fests and club meetings are good to go to for this reason: you can watch people. you can watch intelligently (actively, analytically), and you can watch passively (simply "see" the trick, make an internal visual representation or picture of it). another benefit of fests is that you can have people "break a trick down" for you, or tell you exactly how to do it, step by step. some people really break things down beautifully. this includes which pieces of the trick to learn as discrete units, prior to putting the pieces together into the whole trick.

but overall, apart from simply practice, i think the best advice i ever heard was when someone asked steve ragatz for help in learning five: "i always throw out with my left hand" whined the neophyte. "what can i do to stop doing that?"

"stop doing it" replied the wise one, as he did three regulation soccer balls in one hand, bouncing a fourth on his head, idling on a giraffe uni. he was picking his nose with the free hand. now THAT'S coordination. (although he has big balls, he does not have a very large nose.)

Allen Knutson

In my experience, throwing forward is __ALWAYS__ a result of not throwing far enough across. Having not pontificated on this in this forum recently, I'll take this opportunity to do so.

A priori, one would think that collisions would be the major obstacle in learning to juggle 3. But this almost never seems to be the case; humans are born with the instinct to avoid colliding the balls. And if they aren't pushed to throw past where their hand is, they will throw forward. To correct this, don't say "Stand in front of a wall" or "Throw at your shoulders", but "Throw from the middle, to past where your hand is."

So anyway, make sure your right hand throws come from closer to the center.

Are there any other hints on offer at this stage?

Sounds like time to be working on 7. I found it incredibly much more efficient to work on 7 and regress to 5, to learn 5, once I was that good at 5. Also, keep track of your heights, and at times that your right hand is consistently higher, shower 3 backwards for a while to get your left hand into the mood.

Also, does the improvement rate ever take a noticeable jump.

The noticeable jumps in my 5 progress came with the help of drugs, and then with work on 7. Good luck.

someone else said

  The key I think is regular practice - as you say, after 20-30 mins you
  get better. Keep doing this regularly, and you'll get brilliant
  eventually. Me? I found practicing against a wall helpful, this stops
  you from throwing forward, and hopefully trains your hands into
  staying where they are, and not throwing forward.

and yet another

  Simon, try to do the 5-ball pattern while standing as close to a
  wall as you possibly can.  This will set up a barrier and something
  in the brain will make you not throw the balls forward.

Am I really the only person who has made the connection with not throwing far enough across --> throwing forward? (Or are other people just not trying to improve their placement in the "top posters on rec.juggling" list? : -8 ) But seriously, do people out there have other theories as to the reason people throw forward?

Such a theory would have to explain why people juggling 1 do not have this problem at all (except those people who've never tossed a ball at all before).

Robert Edward Gruhl (Orph)

Glad to know that some-one else is working on 5, I'm getting tired of seeing questions like: "What's the best way to pirouette while juggling 17?"

My advice on 5 (my current best is 44):

Practicing with 4 balls helps clean up your pattern a LOT. Do three in the right, one in the left and throw r,rl,lr,rl,l . . . (the commas are the spaces skipped over if you had been doing five) also try with three balls in the right hand: r,r,rl,l,lr,r,rl,l,l . . .

I've found that these moves are fairly difficult, but when you can get them clean, they help your 5 a lot (it's how i got from 15 to 44 throws.)

Barry Friedman

Try to do the 5-ball pattern while standing as close to a wall as you possibly can. This will set up a barrier and something in the brain will make you not throw the balls forward.

It ain't very scientific but it works.

Phil Thomas/ Juggling Information Service / ukrthop@prl.philips.co.uk