4-ball Mills Mess: Other descriptions

Ed Carstens

Just work on your false showers in each direction. Also, try some of the 4-ball site-swaps like 6451 and 7531. The 6451 pattern is much easier than 7531 but I still spent close to an hour practicing it and got to the point where I could complete about 5 cycles without messing up. I tried the 7531 pattern but was unsuccessful. It seems the 7 must be thrown extremely high so that the 3 lands before the 7 does. The 5 must be thrown in the correct height range. If it's thrown too low it will rush the next cycle and mess it up. This, in my opinion, is extremely difficult and probably not worth the trouble.

Arnold Wilson

   A try to explain 4-ball Mills' Mess:

       ^     4          1    ^                       <3
       1                V   <3

             3                4                   1      ^
       2     V   ==>       2> V         ==>       V   4  2
       L     R             L> R                      <R
    4 balls async      Toss 3 over to                    L
                       left, and carry
                       2 UNDER to Right.         Toss 2 out of Left
                                                 up. Carry 4 over left.
     V========================================== to toss 4 up and bring
                                                 back to catch 1.

              ^               4>                        1>
       3 ^    2           ^      2                           4
       V 4>               1>     V                   ^       V
       1 R         ==>    3  L>          ==>                 2
       L                  R                            R>    L

 toss 4 with R and        toss 1 to right.         Catch 2 with L(over R)
catch 1 with L. Prepare   catch 3 with R.         and pull R back to
to catch 3 with R and     carry L hand OVER       to catch 4.  Prepare to
toss 1 to right.          Right to catch 2.       toss 2 back to left with
                                               **oops-Toss 3 with R
straight up

    3                            <2
    V     ^ 1                 3
         <2 V                 V

            4                 4      1              etc.....
          L R                 R      L

    toss 2 back to         Catch 1 w/ L, carry
left, pull right back      4 OVER L to left.
to catch 4. Prepare to     prepare to toss 4 w/
carry 4 OVER L to left.    R and 1 w/ L.
Prepare to catch 1 w/ L
I know what you're saying now.... (ETC!!!!! What do you mean ETC!!!????) I think it is correct up to there, but I am lost myself. I put a little weave in my tosses that make it impossible for me to follow a ball's path while actually doing it. Plus I can only hold it up for about 5 tosses while trying to follow a ball's path. I started showing how I start into the pattern on the top row, from there its a mess.

Clues to learning 4 balls Mills Mess: Learn 4 balls false shower to the right and left. False shower is tossing all balls from one side of the body and catching them all on the other.

I have seen Dana Tyson do a 5 balls Mills Mess on videotape. It was needless to say --AWESOME--. If I get some time (which is rare), I will try to finish the diagram.

Rick Wilson

Note: this isn't Mills Mess, it's Wilson's Wonder. Sounds like it'd look nice, though, and in any case good practice. -mpg

Last week Arnold Ward posted an attempt at explaining the 4-ball Mill's Mess pattern. (Thanks Arn) I worked on that a bit this weekend. Although I didn't succeed in learning the trick yet, I did have a revelation about the pattern.

Arn said that the same two balls stay with one hand throughout the pattern. That means that the pattern can be demonstrated (and practiced) one hand at a time. Breaking it down into a one-hand-two-ball pattern, here is what I came up with:

Position 1 is where the left hand usually is, and Position 2 is where the right hand usually is. For now tie one hand behind your back (it doesn't matter which) and use the remaining hand to cover both positions.

The first throw is straight up from position 1. (ball 1) The second throw is across to position 2. (ball 2) The third throw is straight up from position 2. (ball 1 again) The fourth throw is back across to position 1. (ball 2) Repeat....

        |\       /--------\       /|
        ||      /          \      ||
        ||     /            \     ||
        |^   _2              4_   ^|
        |1   /|              |\   3|
        |^  /                  \  ^|
        || /                    \ ||
        ||/                      \||
      Position 1                Position 2
Now, perfect this with the other hand.

Now, perfect this with both hands in a sync pattern. (alternate which hand crosses over the other during throw 2-4)

Finally, for Wilson's Wonder, do this pattern async, 90 degrees out of phase.

 right hand does throw 4
 left hand does throw 3
 right hand does throw 1
 left hand does throw 4
 right hand does throw 2
 left hand does throw 1......
 (remember to alternate right-over-left, left-over-right)
In order to succeed at this pattern it probably helps to be able to do 4-ball columns, and 4-ball crosses, with your hands in normal position, crossed left-over-right, and crossed right-over-left, 6 patterns total.


With 4 ball MM 2 balls remain in each hand, because of this you can start to learn it by teaching each hand separately.

The throws for the RIGHT hand are:

1. Hold two balls in right hand
2. Cross arms, right hand on top, throw first ball up and towards the center of the body.
3. Uncross arms in a flowing circle (like 3 ball MM) and re cross with right hand underneath left arm, throw second ball almost straight up with a slight tilt towards the center of the body.
4. Uncross right hand and catch first ball, continue uncrossing motion and throw the ball you just caught when your hands are completely uncrossed. (this is the only throw from the right hand side of the body). Again throw towards the center of your body.
5. Continue swing with right hand until it is back on top of your left arm, it should now be catching the second ball and throwing it up towards the center of the body (which is where we started).
Benjamin Schoenberg notes: "Almost a great description! But in step 4, you shouldn't uncross the hands when catching the first ball. So just delete the first four words of step 4 and carry on. By the way, if you do uncross your arms before step 4, and if you do it by by bringing the top arm in toward the body, then you're doing an alternating false shower instead of Mills Mess!"

Practice this whole thing with both hands, then to get into the real pattern start a 4 ball reverse cascade (fountain?) and just go for it. (i.e. start crossing your hands).

If you can't do a reverse cascade then guess what you should be practicing before attempting 4 ball MM.

Things to remember when you are doing it right:

1. There are three throws from each side of your body. e.g. 3 left, 3 right, 3 left, 3 right.
2. Your hands still throw left,right,left,right ...
3 Add a bit of height to make collisions less likely.
4. This trick is extremely difficult, don't expect to get it without hours/weeks of practice.

If any of this advice turns out to be wrong, or at least wildly inaccurate then I deny everything. I'm just practicing my typing and I've never seen a juggling ball before in my life. :-)

Geoff Thorpe

I posted some tips a while back, and I'll include them here. Don't know if they'll help you at all, and they do not come with any money-back guarantee:

I'm not sure if this is mills mess you're describing or even something like it, but here's my $0.02 worth on 4-balls mills mess.

This is the instruction I recieved when first learning:

Step 1: Practise 3 ball mills mess real low fast and even.
Step 2: Practise 3 ball mills mess higher (at the height of 4's) and concentrate on all throws going the same height. The most common problem is the underneath hand not throwing high enough.
Step 3: Do a regular off-synch 4 ball pattern.
Step 4: Throw one over the top from the leading hand, and then move the leading hand over the other one.
Step 5: Go for it!

Initially I thought Step 5 was a bit of a cop-out, but having learnt the pattern, analysed it, understood it, and got used to it, I'm sure this is the best way to learn it. I used 4 fergies with 2 black in the left hand, 2 green in the right, and the balls never swap hands during the pattern, so that may help too?!

Simon Richard Fox

A big help I found is to move your body to the right when throwing with the right hand UNDER the left (and same for left).

The idea is that you make room for that throw, and there is much more room in the pattern. I think it is the under throws that make it hard, especially with the bad hand.

Rob Stone

Not that I can do this pattern you understand but I find a big help in trying is to practice the cross-handed cascade. Cross your hands and throe reverse cascade throws nice and high without uncrossing your arms. Remember to practice with right over left and left over right. Keep those throws high.

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