Juggling Tricks

While some jugglers focus primarily on numbers juggling (juggling as many objects at once as possible) and stick to the standard patterns (the cascade for odd numbers and the fountain for even numbers), far more jugglers are interested in learning many different tricks and patterns. In this document, we offer help for those wanting to add more tricks to their juggling. Of course it would be impossible to list every juggling trick and we're not trying to do that. We do hope to offer you some tricks that are new to you, or give you some ideas to help you create your own original tricks.

First, we offer help choosing tricks to try. After that is a little advice on learning how to do new tricks.

Please email us at crju@jugglingpoet.com with your comments, corrections and additions.

Finding Tricks To Try

The majority of popular juggling tricks are just variations of a handful of juggling pattern elements. Many tricks involve changing just one aspect, like throwing the props from a different position, such as behind the back.

Some Elements Of Juggling Patterns:

There are of course tricks that are not easily categorized as variations of the above elements, so we also offer a few miscelaneous tricks.

Many of the most fun and impressive tricks are the result of combining variations of multiple pattern elements, and there are an endless assortment of combination tricks waiting to be discovered. As you practice your favorite tricks, think about how you might combine them with variations in other elements of the pattern. For example, if you like the 4 ring half shower, consider making some of the high throws overhead on the plane parallel to your chest. Obviously we could never list all the possibilities, but here are a few of our favorite combinations.

Prop Types

Of course juggling with "dangerous" props like knives and torches will win you some points with an audience, but there's a lot of variety available in "safe" props too. Whether you use balls, rings, clubs or some unconventional props, don't forget that a trick done with one type of prop can be entirely different with another. Take a simple three ball cascade and do it with 18 inch diameter play balls and you'll have a pattern that doesn't look or feel like any 3 ball juggling you've done before. At any juggling festival, you'll see people doing backcrosses with clubs, but seldom with rings, and you don't often see patterns like Mills Mess done with anything but balls, yet they can be done. Juggling with a mix of props (like one ring, one club and one ball) can also open up lots of possibilities.

Pattern Height and Tempo

Audiences of non-jugglers seem to like high and fast juggling, and they often ask jugglers to juggle higher and faster at the same time. Of course juggling higher means the props will be in the air longer with each throw, slowing down the pattern, so they can't have it both ways. Still, such audiences always seem to be impressed with high throws. So much so that a single 30-foot high throw with a club can get a better response than complicated, truly difficult patterns. There's a lot to be said for low patterns too, however. For example, Mills Mess done with throws well above head height doesn't look nearly as fluid and hypnotic and it does when it's juggled very low and fast. Practicing high throws will help you develop better throw accuracy and practicing juggling very low will build up your speed, making the same pattern at a moderate height feel easier. The bottom line: simply juggling extra high or extra low can be effective tricks to perform and useful to practice.

Throw Heights and Sequences (Siteswaps)

Many juggling patterns consist of throws of varying heights and siteswap notation is a method of describing such patterns. A siteswap is just a series of numbers, each representing one throw in a pattern and your hands take turns throwing. The basic idea is that a number is used to describe each throw and the higher the number, the higher the throw. See the JIS for a full explanation of siteswap notation. If you're not already familiar with siteswaps, it will open your eyes to a world of juggling possibilities.

Don't forget that the siteswap being used is only one aspect of a juggling pattern. Chops, backcrosses and the Boston Mess all have the same siteswap as a cascade (3), serving as reminder that there's a wide range of possibilities for variation with any siteswap. Also remember that any siteswap can be done as a repeating pattern or just once as a trick, though some siteswaps require "transition throws" to enable you to get in or out of them from cascades and fountains. Many patterns (those not requiring transition throws) can also be modified by adding one or more N throws where N is the number of props.

Some Favorite Siteswaps

Some Less Common But Interesting Siteswaps


Many patterns include throwing 2 or more props from one hand at once. Multiplexed props can be thrown to split, or stay close together in flight to be caught together in one hand. One type of siteswap notation shows multiplexed throws in parens, like (4 3), which indicates throwing a 4 and 3 together. In theory, any two or more siteswaps can be overlapped, resulting in juggling both patterns concurrently. In practice, most multiplexes are the result of overlapping a fairly simple pattern with a trivially simple one. For instance, a popular split multiplex with 5 balls is with (3 2), the result of overlapping a 3 ball cascade with a 2 ball fountain (in this case, the 2s are actually thrown, not held.) Another example is (3,3) 3 3, 4 balls being juggled in a 3 ball cascade (2 balls staying paired the whole time.) Multiplexing is often overlooked, and there are endless undiscovered multiplex combinations. Whether run continually or used a single tricks, they can add a lot of variety to your juggling.

One multiplex that we should mention is the 3-up start: Throw 3 props from one hand at once to begin juggling. With clubs, hold the clubs together with both hands, two paired side to side and one below sticking out a few inches. Throw them together, releasing them with a low snap so two do doubles and one does a triple.

In case you're looking for more siteswaps to try, here are

The Siteswaps With Up To Four Digits:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 31 51 71 91 20 42 62 82 53 73 93 40 64 84 75 95 60 86 97 80 411 711 201 312 612 912 441 714 501 531 615 915 741 771 801 831 861 918 420 720 522 822 423 723 552 825 642 726 852 882 942 972 300 330 630 930 633 933 534 834 603 663 936 753 837 903 963 993 744 504 645 945 774 804 864 948 750 855 756 885 975 600 660 960 966 867 906 996 807 978 900 990 5111 9111 2011 4112 8112 5511 9115 6011 6411 8116 9511 9911 5120 9120 3122 7122 5124 9124 6312 7126 8512 9128 3001 4130 8130 7131 4013 4413 8134 5313 7135 8013 8413 8813 9313 9713 9151 5201 5241 8152 5551 9155 6015 6415 8156 9515 9915 6051 9160 6231 7162 6451 9164 6631 7166 8516 9168 7001 7041 8170 7401 7441 8174 7531 7571 8017 8417 8817 9317 9717 9201 9241 9281 9551 9591 9601 9641 9681 9951 9991 4202 8202 5520 9205 6020 6420 8206 9520 9920 6222 5223 9223 6622 7522 9227 3302 4233 8233 6235 7023 7423 8237 9623 8242 5524 9245 6024 6424 8246 9524 9924 6352 9263 6662 7526 9267 7302 7342 8273 7562 7702 7742 8277 9627 8552 9285 8602 8642 8682 9528 9928 5300 9300 5304 9304 6330 7306 8530 9308 7333 6334 7733 8633 5340 9340 5344 9344 7346 8534 9348 9353 6635 7535 9357 7063 7463 7773 8637 8053 9380 8453 9384 8673 8853 9388 9663 9753 9793 4000 4400 8400 4440 8404 7405 8040 8440 8840 9740 8444 7445 8044 8844 9744 6455 7045 8457 9645 6460 7746 8646 8004 8480 8574 8804 8884 9748 9564 9704 9784 9964 9555 6055 8556 9955 9560 7566 9568 7005 8570 8057 8857 9757 9605 9685 9995 8606 9960 9667 7706 8677 9968 9700 9708 9780 9788 8000 8800 8880

Throw and Catch Positions


One of the simplest variations is to throw and catch with the hand held further to the outside of the pattern than usual. For throws, that means throwing the prop over the path of an incoming prop in stead of under. Depending on how often you throw from the outside, that gives you some common patterns:

Just as crossing throws can be thrown from the inside or outside of a juggling pattern, non-crossing throws can be made to circle inward, outward, or go straight up, resulting in "columns" (where each prop has its own vertical lane of travel.)

Hand height


Make throws away from or toward your. An example is to juggle with one hand held close to the center of your chest and the other out in front of that point.


Many of the most common tricks involve reaching around part of ones body to throw a prop. Less common but also a lot of fun is to reach around part of ones body to make a catch. You can do consecutive throws and catches (exchanges) in these positions. Also, handoffs (a 1 in any siteswap) can be fun to do around-the-body. Around-the-body moves can be faked for a comedy effect, moving a prop around the body, but bringing it back before the next throw or catch. Some of the common around-the-body positions include:


Catch or throw overhand. Overhand catching is often called "clawing."

Prop Grips

The way a prop is gripped can be varied to create tricks. Some of the possibilities include:

Prop Flips or Spins

You can vary several apsects of the flight of clubs, rings and similar props. They include:

Non-Thrown Props

Some tricks are done while a prop is held or resting on some part of the body. A "set and get" is a trick in which a prop is simply placed on some surface (body part or other surface) and the picked back up at the time it would otherwise be caught. Also note that while one prop is held in some way, tricks can be performed with the others. Some examples of tricks using held or placed props include:

Other tricks involve catching, bumping or launching a prop using a part of your body other than the front of your hands. Some examples include:

Independent Tricks

Some tricks don't involve the props at all. Some of these, like the pirouette (spinning 360 degrees) are used as a demonstration of speed. Often they are done under a high throw, or even under a "flash", a series of fast, high throws so that all the props are airborne when the body move is performed, sometimes repeatedly under one flash or high throw. Partial pirouettes (180 or 520 degrees, etc) are great ways to turn quickly while juggling. Other independent tricks are a matter of performing non-juggling skills while you juggle. Some examples are riding a bike or unicycle, skating, ball spinning, or balancing another prop.


Balls (and in some cases, other props) can be bounced off the floor, wall or ceiling effectively. These moves can of course be combined with other elements of juggling patterns to create a wide variety of tricks. The basic types of bounces include:

Miscelaneous Tricks

Here are some that didn't seem to fit in any of the regular categories:

Do a three ball cascade while rocking your arms back and forth together, wrists up and elbows out to the sides. Exaggerate the swaying motion, and release a ball with the inside arm each time your hands peak. It's an easy trick with a comic posture.

Some Combination Moves

It would of course be impossible to list all the possible variations of the elements of juggling patterns. We'll list a few that we feel are worthy of note, however.

Some Advice On Learning Tricks

Once you've decided you want to learn a particular trick, there are a number of things to consider that may help you master it more quickly: