Easy 5 Ball Tricks

Collected Wisdom on 5 ball starter tricks

So you can keep a 5 ball cascade going for a short time. What next?

I have gone through as many articles related to easy 5 ball tricks as I could find from the rec.juggling archives and culled what I felt was useful and interesting information. Special thanks to John Gunser who urged me to complete this file and has generously shared all his five tricks. I have also compiled a collection of easy 5 ball siteswaps patterns for readers to try.

-Ram Prasad

Andy Arhelger

I am working on the 5 ball cascade and can usually do about 30 throws and catches. This gets pretty boring practicing over and over and over, so, recently, I have tried 21 throws, catching 2 in each hand and then catching the last with a neck catch. I can do this once and awhile and it is fun trying something different. This seems to help my 5 ball pattern because I must keep the pattern smooth and have enough control at the end to get the toss just right for the neck catch. For anybody working on 5 balls this might be a good trick to try.

-Andy Arhelger

Alan Morgan

I think that the over the top throws (do them continuously and you have a half shower) are among the easiest, but some other good tricks include tossing one high, collecting 4 and continuing with the pattern as the high throw drops (can anyone do this with 7 balls?) and flashing 3 and 5 balls high. You can try to make tosses under the leg but that is rather tricky (tosses behind the back are even worse). Try clawing a ball every now and then, altering the height of your pattern to keep things interesting or grabbing a ball, putting it under your chin and continuing with 4 (for more fun, toss the 4 high, pull the ball out from under your chin and continue with 5).

-Alan "Crunchy Frog" Morgan

Bram Cohen

Here are some tricks I've had some luck with, for you other people who can do a five ball cascade, but not with your eyes closed :-)

One over the top
Throw a single toss outside, and keep going. This is mostly a matter of forgetting about the rest of the patter when you do the outside toss, and just making that one toss right. After the toss is thrown, pretend it was done normally, and keep juggling. All typical zen-like techniques for grokking a trick apply.
One person juggles, and another one comes over and takes all the balls. The pattern stays the same, the person who's doing all the catching and throwing changes. The main trick is keeping the person who's giving the balls from throwing towards the other person. All throws are done as if you're just keeping the pattern going. Practice with the same person a couple of times and you'll start to get it right.
While juggling four, have a spectator throw one in. The way I do this is to tell the spectator to throw to my right hand, slightly higher than I throw the balls in my cascade. After practicing the throw without juggling a couple of times, have the spectator just throw it in. When you see that the spectator is doing the throwing motion, throw one with your right hand crossing (this is from an asynchronous fountain.) Start crossing with the left hand too, but concentrate on the next throw with the right hand. Hold on to the ball after the first crossing one in the right hand as long as possible, and exchange it for the thrown-in one. It's a good idea to go from three to four first, for that, have the spectator do the same thing. Do a throw from the left to itself as soon as the ball is thrown, and hold onto the ball in the right hand as long as possible.

-Bram Cohen

John Johnson

One fairly easy five ball trick is to throw one ball fairly high, catch the other four (two in each hand), and then go back into a normal five ball pattern. This probably shouldn't take much time to learn if you can start your cascade quickly and accurately.

-John Johnson

John Gunser

I have been working on 5 ball tricks a lot also. The one thing that finally made my 1/2 shower hang together was concentrating on making the left hand throw low to avoid collisions with the right hand throw going over the top. I can keep a reverse cascade going for 50 - 75 throws as long as I keep it slow and make the throws a little higher than I normally would in a regular cascade. I really need to relax and slow down for this pattern. Tennis has always been a problem for me. I find it is very difficult for me to keep a smooth rhythm with the other 4 balls while the fifth arcs over the top. I think I am throwing the top ball to high.

What about other tricks? An occasional under the leg or shoulder throw is not too difficult to add in. Backcrosses are possible too, but I find the shoulder throw to be quicker and much easier for me to control. One I haven't seen anyone else do is to tuck one under your chin with the right and take it out with the left as the hole comes around. It's another trick that is much slower than it sounds. I have also been working on the following with limited success. Clawed catches, back hand catches, forearm pop of the incoming bean bag. Don't forget all the multiplex possibilities. They can add a lot interest to your 5 ball routine. Another one I have been working on that I haven't seen anyone else do is a U or box pattern as a 5 ball multiplex. The same as the 3 ball box but the outside throws that go straight up and down are a 2 ball stacked multiplex. Try it out!

1/2 shower
(both directions)
Reverse cascade
Clawed cascade
Work on each hand individually and then together.
Under the leg
Shoulder throws
Back handed catches
Chin Tuck
This is relatively easy trick I never saw anyone else do. Instead of making a R throw place the ball under your chin and hold it there. Continue until the hole comes to the L and retrieve the ball at that time with the L hand.
Elbow Catch
This is a temporary stop and then restart of the 5b cascade. While juggling a cascade catch R L R L, the last ball in the air is caught in the crook of the right arm by bringing your hand/fist towards your body. After a brief pause the arm is extended rapidly forward sending the ball toward the left hand. Then throw L R L R and resume the cascade.
Forearm Pop
This is the same as in a 3 ball cascade. Make a momentary catch with the R hand. On the next throw to the R instead of catching it pop it off the R forearm back to the L hand and continue. The pop from the forearm comes from a very similar motion as that in the previous trick. Bring your hand/fist towards your body while that left throw is in the air, as it is falling rapidly extend you arm so that the throw hits the forearm and sends it back to the L hand.
The Penguin
This is the name given in the Encyclopedia of Ball Juggling for the 3 ball trick where all catches are made with your hands straight at your sides and you rotate your wrist inward so that it is next to your thigh and your fingers are pointing outward. Well, there's no reason you can't extend it to a 5 ball pattern. Throws have to be very quick and very accurate. I have been working on it for a few months now and have only got about 5 consecutive throws but I will persevere. This would be a major league COOL trick!
This is a pretty easy trick that also comes from the "Encyclopedia". You start with 3 in the R 2 in the L. The throw sequence is RR LL RR LL. The first throw is a 6 the second a 5. You actually have two in a hand at a time.
False Shower
Same as with 3 balls the R hand always throws over the top as a regular shower throw. The left also throws a shower throw but from the right side of the pattern under the R hand. The L hand then uncrosses and makes its catch in the normal spot. So all throws are from the R side of the body and all catches are on the L side.

There are lots of multiplex tricks, but I'm not very good at describing them. One that I really like but am not very good at is the U or Box pattern. Where the outside throws on both the L and R are thrown as a stacked multiplex and the other ball is passed back and forth as a 1 just as in a 3 ball box. The other really pretty multiplex pattern I like is where you throw 1 ball high straight up the middle and then throw all 4 balls at once as stacked pairs that intersect. I think I need a picture for that one:

first step         second step        third step

    1                    4                 1
2      4                                4      2
3      5                    1           5      3
-      -             -      -           -      -
L      R             L      R           L      R

-John Gunser

Last Modified: 04/95
Ram Prasad / Juggling Information Service / naras-r@acsu.buffalo.edu