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A juggling pattern or juggling trick is a specific combination of manipulations of props while juggling (usually toss juggling). At its simplest level, a juggling pattern can normally be defined as a sequence of various throws using a certain number of props. At a more advanced level, juggling patterns can involve (depending on the props used) different types of throw, flourishes, moves using different parts of the body such as the feet and head, bouncing props off surfaces, and even moves requiring two or more people. One system of notation that attempts to describe juggling tricks is siteswap notation, though even this is limited in the complexity of patterns it can define.
Basic patterns are defined here as patterns that involve a single person throwing a certain sequence of single-ball throws, with a certain number of balls (point-like objects), within a 2D plane. Below are listed some of the most fundamental patterns used in juggling, upon which many other patterns are based.
Possibly the simplest juggling pattern to execute, the cascade is a symmetrical pattern performed with an odd number of props greater than or equal to three, with each hand alternately throwing arching throws of equal height to the opposite hand. The cascade is generally performed with the balls caught to the outside of the throws, with the inverse known as a reverse cascade.
Performed using an even number of props greater than or equal to four, the fountain is a symmetrical pattern where each hand independently juggles exactly half the total number of props, i.e. each hand always throws to itself. As with the cascade, a fountain where the throws are to the outside of the catches is known as a reverse fountain. A fountain where only one hand juggles is generally known as an n in one hand, where n is the number of props juggled. Unlike the cascade, fountains can be performed both synchronously (each hand throws at the same time) and asynchronously (hands throw alternately)
This pattern can be performed with any number of props greater than or equal to two. Quite often the first pattern attempted by non-jugglers, the shower has props following a "circular" path, with one hand throwing arcing throws of equal height to the opposite hand, and one throwing balls in a horizontal path to the other hand. Showers can be executed in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, and both asynchronously and synchronously.
Similar to the shower pattern, a half shower pattern is any pattern where both hands throw arcing cascade-like throws to the other hand, but the props from one hand always pass above the props from the other hand. The half shower may be performed with any number of props greater than or equal to three, and with more than four props, different versions of the half shower with varying heights of throw may be executed, even without taking into account both synchronous and asynchronous variations.
Half showers where hands throw at notably different heights may be executed with cascade-style inside throws; this style of half shower is popular in club juggling, where they go by the name of triple-doubles or double-singles due to the higher clubs naturally spinning a greater number of times than the lower clubs.
The Mills mess (named after one of its originators, Steve Mills) is a symmetrical pattern performed with any number of props greater than or equal to three, in which the arms cross and uncross throwing the props from toward the centre of the pattern in groups of three. In a Mills mess pattern with an odd number of props, each throw is from one hand to the other, whereas with an even number of props, each hand independently juggles half of the props. Thus, a Mills mess can be considered to be a cascade or fountain but with the cross-armed movements.
Although various versions of this pattern exist, a columns pattern can be defined as one where the props follow vertical paths through the air. Columns can be performed with any number of props greater than or equal to two. Possibly the simplest version of this pattern is with three props thrown in three equally spaced columns, where the two outside props are thrown simultaneously, with the central prop thrown when the other two are caught. A Mills mess juggled in columns is known as a Boston mess.
Box patterns are juggling patterns that combine vertical, columns-like throws with horizontal throws, such as in the shower pattern. Box patterns are so named due to the props in the pattern apparently tracing several sides of a box in the air, and can be performed with any number of props greater than or equal to two.
It is possible to create patterns in which two or more balls are caught in and/or thrown from one hand. These patterns are generally called multiplex patterns. Multiplex throws are given different names depending on the number of balls used, for example a two-ball throw would be called a duplex and a three-ball throw, a triplex, and so on. Multiplex throws are generally grouped into two categories, stacked multiplex and split multiplex.
Stacked multiplex throws involve throwing two or more props from one hand and catching them in the same hand (though not necessarily the same hand that they were thrown from). The props will usually be "stacked" one above the other in the air, and thus will be caught in a staggered fashion. Stacked throws can replace any regular single prop throw within a pattern, though if the props are staggered enough they can be caught and thrown again separately; this type of stacked throw is known as a cut. The term cut was coined by Daniel Marden, a leading figure on multiplex juggling in the online juggling community.
Split multiplex throws, as the name suggests, involve throwing two or more props from one hand and "splitting" them in the air so that each hand catches one or more props. Some split props may be level in the air, and so may be caught simultaneously by both hands, or they may be of different heights, and so will be caught in a staggered fashion as with the cut stacked throw.
- "How to Juggle". Retrieved 23 January 2012.