How I learnt 5-ball cascade?
"On a scale of 1 to 10,
learning how to juggle with three objects is a 2.
Learning how to juggle with four objects is a 5.
Learning how to juggle with
five, figure 34."
- Juggling for the Complete Klutz
The 5-ball cascade is way much harder to learn than a 3-ball cascade or any
of the 3-ball tricks. The reason is because there's too little room for
mistakes. It is a landmark achievement for any juggler. As mentioned in many
juggling books and from the experience of other jugglers, it will take months,
even more than a year to achieve. So next time you see a juggler throwing
5-balls, stop and appreciate it. That juggler has worked very hard on
it, even though it may last only a few seconds.
This trick has eluded me for many years. Every time I tried it, it left me
frustrated. Imagine having to pick up 5 balls every time I drop them. I had no
books or resources to help me then. But with the internet, I managed to get it.
Until one night in Dec 1996. Feeling inspired, I picked up my 5 bean bags
and practised the 5-ball cascade. A smooth pattern began to emerge. After
practising a few more weeks, I qualified for the trick!
I am not a master of this trick. I have only attain the century mark only once - the
point where a juggler can get past 100 clean catches for 5-ball cascade.
But, maybe I just share with you my learning experience. It's definitely
is not the best method because each person will meet with different problems
during the practise. Anyway, here goes:
Learning tips/ ideas
- I used small bean bags when I first learnt. I used home-made ones
at about 70 grams each. This way, it avoided a lot of collisions. Since then I
have moved on to heavier ones at 130g. I find this weight good as a start too.
- You hold three ball in your master hand and two in the other. Okay, okay -
skip this step if you already know. :)
- Theory To throw 5-balls, the hands got to move faster and the height
of the throws got to be higher. This way, there's enough time between throws or
catches. Understanding this was what worked for me. To give you an idea,
you can refer to the JuggleKrazy software.
Noticed that the "crossing point" of 3-ball cascade is at the chest level. But
for 5-ball cascade, it is just above the head.
- The below routines are good for beginners. They are taken from
Dave Finnigan's The Complete Juggler.
- Getting started/ Rhythm Try throwing 5 balls in the air in the
cascade pattern. But don't try to catch them. Let them fall to the floor (a bed
or sofa is better for you don't have to bend lower to pick them up). The idea
here is to get used to the timing of the throws. Also listen to the falling
balls when they dropped on the floor. The timing should be a smooth
- Accuracy Watch the places where the balls fell on your left and
right. They should form a close enough cluster of two and three balls.
Otherwise, it means the throws are not accurate.
- Practise with another juggler That juggler need not be able to throw
5, he can be just a 3-ball juggler. The idea is to throw the five balls in the
air and your friend will attempt to catch them. Then he throws the five balls
and you try to catch them. This way, you get to practice both throwing and
catching. And your friend benefits in learning five too!
The Gizmo Guys gave me the below practice tips on improving my
5-ball cascade. They performed at the Singapore International Comedy Festival
- 3-ball Flash with clap Juggle a 3-ball cascade, then suddenly throw them
all up to 5-ball height and do a clap with both hands before catching them
and continuing the 3-ball cascade. You should practice this will both the left
and right hands making the first throw. In
site-swap notation, this is 55500.
- Snakes or Chase What's this? It is a 3-ball pattern where you start with 3
balls in one hand. Then throw them in succession in an arch pattern to the
other hand. The other hand will catch them and throw back in the same way.
site-swap notation, this is 50505.
- Simulated 5 balls Start with two balls in your right hand and
one on the left. Throw one from the right to 5-ball height. Hold the other
two in your hands but swing them as you imagine throw balls 2 and 3 of the
5-ball cascade. After the first ball peaks, throw the ball in the left
hand to 5-ball height and do the swinging motion again. This exercise is
good for getting use the the speed of 5-ball juggling.
Now for the real thing. You should be making good launches of the 5-ball
cascade. Concentrate on making clean catches of them. Then later try to make
one more throw and then one more ..... Soon you will be juggling 5!
At some time or other, you may face problems like the throws are not consistent
in strength making the cascade lop-sided. Or maybe you are going in circles!
I too have this problem today, but I am working to improving it. Some ways
of solving the problems are:
Lastly, there's no short-cut except to practice, practice, practice!
- Having a good stance, feet apart at shoulder width.
- Having relaxed arms at start.
- Mentally visualising the pattern before the throws. And also when you are
- Never try to correct a throw that is wrong. Try learning clean throws and
- Take a break. Sometimes I find that I can do much longer runs
at the start rather than after 10 or 15 minutes into the practice.
- Set goals on improving from your previous best.
- Go back to basics. Practice the routines as outlined above.
Links to other pages on the net with help on 5-ball cascade
Koah Fong's Juggling Page |
How I learnt 5-ball cascade? |
Write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created: 1 Apr 1999 | Updated: 9 May 2005