"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

### Introduction

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

1. 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.

2. You hold three ball in your master hand and two in the other. Okay, okay - skip this step if you already know. :)

3. 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.

4. 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 "plop-plop-plop-plop-plop".
• 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!

5. The Gizmo Guys gave me the below practice tips on improving my 5-ball cascade. They performed at the Singapore International Comedy Festival in 1998.
• 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. In 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.

6. 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!

### Problems

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:

• 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 not juggling.
• Never try to correct a throw that is wrong. Try learning clean throws and catches instead!
• 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.
Lastly, there's no short-cut except to practice, practice, practice!

### 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: kfloh@ntu.edu.sg
Created: 1 Apr 1999 | Updated: 9 May 2005