Site Swaps: Examples

  v1.0, 15 Mar 93
  by Vincent Darley (

# Curious, Interesting and Impossible Siteswaps #

I am assuming that you are familiar with basic siteswap notation, and 
understand the differences between all the throws.

The patterns are listed according to the number of balls they contain, and 
beside that according to my personal whim. More precise instructions are 
given for learning the earlier (and simpler) siteswaps than for the later 
ones. By the time you're learning five ball siteswaps, what you really 
need are a few hints, practice tips and far too much time on your hands.

I always list the largest throw first, for two reasons: this is what I 
make my siteswap generator do (for those interested, it's runs on a Mac 
and will be finished soon), and this ensures most patterns are in their 
ground state.

This list is maintained by Vince Darley:, who hopes 
you manage to spend (waste?) as much time as he has trying to master these 

* 1 Ball *

'300'	Well, to be honest, one ball siteswaps aren't really that exciting. 
Remember learning how to juggle three? Well, when you picked up one ball 
and threw it back and forth you were juggling '300'. 

'1'	Another vaguely useful 1 ball siteswap is '1' - throw one ball back 
and forth very low and fast. If each throw is done in a downwards 
direction, with the hands spaced quite widely, this can be a useful step 
towards improving and learning 4,5 and 6 ball showers in both directions.

* 2 Balls *

'31'	This is the well-known pattern which everyone can juggle, and which 
often gets in the way of trying to learn the cascade. Otherwise known as 
the 2-shower, it is actually quite useful as an extension of the exercise 
above for learning 4,5 and 6 ball showers. Keep the hands a reasonable 
distance apart, and practise '31', making sure that all the 1's are thrown 
quickly, and angled slightly downwards. IMHO it is extremely important to 
pass the ball downwards; this ensures that the catching hand remains palm 
up, and doesn't have to snatch at the ball. In such a position it is ready 
to catch and throw at a much higher rate than if it has to claw slightly 
down on the ball, turn over and move upwards to throw. In order to 
progress with my left-handed 4-shower, I found I had to re-learn it from 
scratch so that I threw in the correct manner. I used '31' to practise 
this, and am now able to do a reasonable left-handed 5-shower, and 
continuous swaps between left- and right-handed 4-showers.

'4040'	Two in one hand. The first step to learning four balls. Try 
columns, outside circles and inside circles (hardest). If you feel 
ambitious, try clawing, overhead, back-of-the-hand or over-the-shoulder 
throws. See how low you can juggle two in columns (use your fingers).

'312'	A 2-shower which continually changes direction.

'501'	An alternative 2-shower, which may actually be useful for learning 

* 3 Balls *

'3'	The cascade and its many variations (too many to discuss here).

'423'	A very easy pattern in its simplest form - but when coupled to more 
bizarre hand movements can lead to some quite difficult and interesting 
patterns. My understanding of Burke's Barrage is that it is basically 
'423' superimposed upon Mills' Mess hand movements augmented by a carry on 
the '2'. I shall leave a detailed textual explanation of Burke's Barrage 
to a braver soul. Anyway, the basic '423' pattern goes as follows: hold 
two in your right hand, and one in your left. Start with the '3'; throw 
one ball across to your left hand - before it lands throw the '4' straight 
up - now throw the '2', i.e. do nothing with your right hand - catch the 
'3' and throw it back - now throw the '4' with your right hand - repeat. 
It is easiest if you juggle with one differently coloured ball - make it 
the first one you throw. This ball should just be thrown back and forth 
between the hands with ordinary '3' throws. The other two balls stay on 
their own sides, and are thrown up alternately. The pattern is easy 
because it has a '2' in it.

'522'	A kind of slowed down cascade. Rather boring.

'441'	A very popular and pretty pattern.

'531'	Getting harder. Quite a pretty pattern. Probably the first really 
interesting siteswap pattern with throws of different heights. Treat the 
pattern as a '5' followed by a quick low '31' swap-over of the other two 
balls and repeat. Keep that '3' low and you'll manage it. Now try it in 
Mills' mess (start with the '3').

'51'	The 3-shower.

'612'	"The Box" or "See-Saw", also known by a variety of different names. 
One ball is passed back and forth between the hands whilst the other two 
go up and down in columns on either side. Quite difficult at first, until 
you get the timing right. Learn it with your hands quite close together; 
as your timing improves you'll find you can separate your hands as much as 
you like.

'50505'	A useful pattern for learning 5 balls. Hold three in one hand, 
throw them one at a time to the other hand, try and catch the first ball 
after  the last one has been thrown. Now throw them back - so the three 
balls follow each other around the pattern.

'55500'	The three ball flash. Replace that '00' with a clap, pirouette

'801'	I always had problems with this. It's basically as fast as three in 
one hand, but with two hands. Each ball is caught and passed to the other 
hand before being thrown again. 

'8040'	Hi-Lo three in one hand.

'81411'	The "Super Box", an extension of the above.

'517131'	One up, one down. Numerous variations on this theme can be 
performed with any shower pattern. Basically throw one high, and throw one 
or two low '31's underneath it. Further multiplex variations involve 
retaining a ball in the arc-throwing hand, collecting two and then 
throwing them together. Looks very nice with 5 balls, and is probably 
easier than the 5-shower once you can actually do it.

* 4 Balls *

'4'	The fountain, reverse fountain and columns are the most popular ways 
of doing this. Try overhead or over-shoulder throws if you feel yourself 
becoming too confident. Of course the nicest pattern is 4 Mills' Mess.

'53'	One version (the 'true' version?) of the half-shower. Actually quite 
hard to do making sure the throws remain truly asynchronous. Try throwing 
the '5' under the '3' for a challenge.

'534'	A lovely pattern. My advice is: Don't learn this by doing ever more 
frequent 53's in the middle of a fountain. Treat it as a new pattern in 
its own right. Practise those first three throws (start with the '5'). 
Throw the '4's straight up on the outside. Keep the height difference 
between the three types of throw. Once you can do it, it suddenly becomes 
really quite easy (of course it should, as the timing is very natural, you 
just have to learn the throws).

'633'	Harder than it should be (for me anyway!). Up, down, down, Up, down, 
down, Up, down, down,...BIG height difference.

'7333'	This and its numerous extensions '83333', '933333',... are 
performed as follows: juggle four in a nice, stately fountain. Throw one 
HIGH (either straight up or across). Juggle the other three in a cascade 
VERY fast. As the fourth ball returns, switch back into a fountain. Note 
that you can substitute any length 3 ground state 3 ball siteswap for the 
'333', so for instance you could do '7441'.

'552'	A pattern which always feels strange, and doesn't look that good, 
because of the '2' messing around with the timing: right pause right - 
left pause left - right pause right ... Because of that it's not really 
much use as a half-way point to learning five. A friend of mine does this 
in Mills' mess, which should be easy as all the throws are the same, but 

'71'	Of course, the 4-shower. Try it left and then right and then switch 
back and forth: (71)77070707(17)


'615'	Another descendant of '501' and '531'. All you have to do is add 
another ball.

'5551'	This is quite a nice pattern, and works well as a quick half-flash 
in the middle of a fountain. Pretty self explanatory. Can also be done 
continuously (of course).

'66161'	Four in a six ball pattern.

'68141'	"Four in a six ball pattern with the 3 in 1 hand done as hi-lo"

'719131'	One high, one low. A fun pattern.

* 5 Balls *

'5'	That elusive 5-ball cascade. Practise, practise, practise,... well 
worth practising for.

'66661'	Interesting - try it out of a cascade or continuously.

'726'	One of the easiest five ball siteswaps.

'64'	Three in one hand, two in the other. You try and keep one hand 
throwing low whilst the other throws high; I can't.

'645'	A bit like '534' but there's an extra ball there, getting in the way 
and making things much too difficult. Practise an occasional '64' in the 
middle of your 5-ball cascade. Practise it on both sides. Now try it 
continuously - it's very pretty.

'91'	The 5-shower. Fast, tiring - keep those arms wide apart and try and 
avoid collisions.

'915'	Just add one more ball to '501', '531', '615'.

'744'	Another nice one. The more of these variations you can do, the 
easier the rest will be to learn.

'771'	A cross between the 4-shower and the 5-ball cascade.

'77731'	Now this I would find impressive.

'88333'	BIG height difference. Again you can change the '333' for 
something else.

'94444'	This is an extension of '7333'... with 5 balls. From the cascade, 
throw one high, and juggle the other four in a fountain. When the fifth 
ball comes down again, either pretend you didn't notice or drop them all 
and finish your act.

	Crazy variations are: '97333', '97441' '97522', '95353'.

'123456789'	Just for the sake of it.

* 6 Balls *

'75'	The half-shower. A very nice pattern, much prettier than that horrid 
6-cross thing.

'756'	A six ball version of '534'.

* 7 Balls *

'867'	A seven ball version of '645'.

* 8 Balls *

'978'	An eight ball version of '756'. Only consider this if you are 
scheduled to be stranded on a desert island for a year.

* Mills' Mess *

In theory any siteswap can be superimposed upon a Mills' Mess set of hand 
movements (or any other movements for that matter). Problems are only 
really encountered practically speaking when a throw is difficult because 
of the contorted positions of the hands. I would in any case suggest 
learning the reverse cascade with hands crossed over before attempting any 
of these.

The main difficulty is throwing '1's with one's hands crossed. With a slow 
pattern, it is possible to throw a '1' (messily) from any of the three 
different Mills' Mess hand positions. In practise, with most patterns it 
is best to restrict '1's to the second throw (when the hands uncross) of 
each cycle. I have listed each throw sequences in its easiest order.

The most important thing is to throw each ball to the position in which it 
should be caught. This depends upon when and how high it is thrown.

'51'	The shower. Except it no longer looks anything like a shower and 
requires '1's in all three positions. It can be done, but looks a mess.

'423'	Pretty easy.

'414'	Quite pretty and not too difficult if done as '414'.

'315'	A bit harder.

'612'	?

'4'	A gorgeous pattern. Well worth the time it takes to learn. I shall not 
attempt to explain a good way of learning it except to use two balls of 
each colour, and make sure they don't swap hands.


'552'	The throws make it sound easy, as they're all the same, but...

'5'	One day I managed 27 throws at this. It can be done very well by a 
select few.

* Multiplex and Synchronous *

Note that in a lot of multiplex patterns, very small throws are used for 
quite large numbers of balls (obviously, since many balls are being thrown 
at once). This means that 2's are sometimes thrown, rather than held as in 
normal patterns. These are listed in their ground state where possible.

4[43]1	A four ball pattern; '441' with an extra ball.

[32]	The standard 5-ball multiplex; splitting two on each throw. All these 
2's are thrown.

24[54]	This is a very nice pattern, which can be done continuously ,or 
incorporated into a five-ball cascade. This '2' is held.

(4x,6)(6,4x)	The five ball box. "The main hurdle for learning this one is 
getting one hand to throw high while at the same time the other hand 
throws low and across. I think most experienced 5-ball jugglers will be 
able to get this one, focusing on making simultaneous throws at different 
heights. The 6 should be thrown at about 3 times the height of the 4." - 
Ed Carstens.

[33]	Six balls stacked into a three ball cascade. Try this in Mills' Mess.

* Many thanks to: *

Ab., Ed Carstens.

Site Swaps: Examples / Juggling Information Service /
© 1996 Juggling Information Service. All Rights Reserved.