Here is some collected advice on basic four ball patterns, various four ball tricks, etc. Descriptions of Mills Mess with 4 balls ("4bmm") are in the Mills Mess section.
Here's a 4-ball technique that was suggested to me at a convention while I was struggling with 5 clubs. (I'm *STILL* struggling with 5 clubs) It helped me pick up a 5-ball bounce juggle pretty quickly, and I expect it might help a lot of people with a five-ball pattern as well.
Start with two in each hand. All throws should be the same height and timing as a 5-ball cascade. Throw one right hand, then TWO lefts in succession. Then throw two rights in succession. (i.e. throw the one still in your hand, catch the first left, throw it, catch and hold the second left) Then two lefts, two rights, two lefts, etc.
This has a really strange effect of an off-rhythm five-ball cascade moving from hand to hand. It allows you to concentrate on one hand at a time, as one hand is throwing & catching in a 5-ball pattern, and the other hand is doing nothing.
It's a really weird 4-ball pattern, and good training for five. Hope this helps you or somebody else struggling with five.
I'd like to share some 4 ball patterns that I've come across. I think that 4 balls get a bad rap for being boring, etc... Actually, there are quite a few patterns. For example, while idling in 4 balls doing the normal two in each hand, in-to-out pattern, try throwing a high throw from your right, then left hand quickly, both throws going straight up. With the remaining two balls do a quick shower pattern (only one throw). You can then resume the normal 4 ball pattern. The pattern the balls will follow looks something like this:
^ ^ | | | | | | /\ | | | | / \ | | | | /____ \| |
Well, actually, I hope it doesn't look anything like this. The shower pattern should be as high as the rest of the pattern. If it works, you can alternate your starting hand and do the trick continuously.
Another 4 ball pattern consists of throwing 3 balls quickly in a RLR cascade pattern. Shuffle the remaining ball across to your other hand and resume juggling. You can shuffle the ball under your leg, behind your back, etc... There is a 5 ball extension of this trick, where you force 4 balls into a six pattern then pass off the ball. That one ain't workin' too well yet!
Finally, try doing the same trick as above, but throw the RLR cascade pattern in back of you and do a half turn. It works out better than you'd think.
This is in response to your tips on a four ball half shower. It is true that it is easier to get into the half shower pattern from a four ball in-sync fountain (inside to outside), but I do not recommend raising your right shoulder to help the throws. Any alteration of the basic body posture for juggling is dangerous. This is difficult since the half shower is an asymmetric pattern. Both hands are not throwing in the same arc. Body symmetry should be maintained never the less. One should alway learn asymmetric tricks on both sides to balance the body development, so make sure that you work the half shower in reverse (from the left hand) as well.
As for a five ball half shower, one needs to have a solid five ball cascade as a foundation for this trick. Although the half shower is not any more difficult, a strong cascade will lead to an easy half shower. The juggler has two options, either starting straight into the half shower or starting from a cascade and going into the half shower from there. If you start with the half shower then the strong hand (the one throwing high) starts with three and the throws alternate right - left or left - right. This is different from four where the hands throw in sync. If you throw for the half shower from a cascade, then the strong hand starts at some point and continues from there. Getting out of the half shower back into the cascade requires a little work. Always work both hands equally even if one hand is naturally more adept than the other, your work with both hands now will pay off when you start to work on the reverse cascade!
Learning 4 balls shower...
I am doing this at the moment (best is 9 right hand throws :-() what I do to warm up before going for it is 3 ball shower very low to get the speed and then 3 ball shower very high to try and get the accuracy and then mix low and high throws. Then I try a 4 ball 1/2 shower for a bit, then I go for it and spend a lot of time picking up the drops! I find it helps to get my stance right and think about it for a second before launching into it.
Something Haggis McLeod said at BJC6 in the 5 ball workshop was, after a drop rest for as long as the previous run. So if you did a 10 sec run, rest fro 10 sec, i find this helps me concentrate on each attempt and make progress (slow though it may seem!)
My BEST advice for this trick.
If you want to do four ball shower to the right, then do
- three in your right hand
- three in your right hand
- three in your right hand
'til your wrist hurts. Then wait a day and try four ball shower. SIMPLE!
For the 3-in-1 I recommend first trying a shower pattern until you can get that straight up and down thang going, then move on to cascade. If you start with cascade, it just gets too depressing too quickly.
If you want to do it left, do
- three in your left hand . . . .
(You get the picture)
What is the secret to 4 ball juggling?
To which I reply:
Keeping two (or more) in the air while the remainder are/is in your hand(s).
For example: cascade two in your right hand clockwise, and at the same time cascade two in your left hand counterclockwise. You might think that this is cheating, as you are juggling two and two, but 2+2=4. You can do the cascades synchronously or asynchronously. Asynchronously looks more difficult to an audience. Perhaps it is, when learning, as it is easier to coordinate your hands synchronously. You can also do columns here, in place of a cascade.
Another: I don't know how to write this in the notation that everyone uses here, but hold two objects in each hand and throw one from each hand to the opposite hand simultaneously. You need to have one object thrown higher than the other so that they do not meet in the middle (unless your aim is REALLY good and you can bounce them off each other back EXACTLY the way they came).
One more: A 4-ball cascade. Hold three in one hand, one in the other. Throw two balls in a high arc to the hand with one ball. Throw the balls one after the other, not simultaneously. As the first ball is coming down to the point where you will catch it, throw the third ball from the hand that started with three in it. As you catch the first ball with the hand that started with one, throw that one to your now-empty hand that started with three. Repeat.
Tips: Try juggling while standing 1 1/2 to 2 feet from a high, flat wall (yes, I know, most walls are flat). This will keep the balls from wandering across the room, and you from wandering around after the wandering balls. When your throws start to get out in front of you, they will glance off the wall. This will affect them only slightly in their parabola and you should be able to continue.
Ah yes, but there are 8 different varieties of 5 3 4 depending on, for each throw, whether the outgoing ball in the exchange goes on the inside or the outside of the incoming ball. A really nice version has the 4's being thrown vertically inside shoulder width, the 5's being thrown from outside shoulder width to outside shoulder width, and the 3's being thrown at shoulder height, also from and to outside shoulder width. My friend Mike Day (holder of the unicycling record from Land's End to John O'Groats) does this and it looks superb. Piccie follows ...
5 5 5 5 5 33353333333335333 3333 5 4 4 5 3333 <- Shoulder height 5 4 4 5 5 4 4 5 5 4 4 5 5 4 4 5 5 4 4 5 ^-----------^ Shoulder width
Credit the pattern to Mike, unless you can tell me you've seen it before. Some of the other 7 variations are nice too.