Learning the Five Ball Cascade

The five ball cascade is a hard trick. Depending on your skill and how much time you are willing to devote to it and, it could take years to learn it well. However, you will see progress long before that and there is, to me at least, a magical feeling to it quite unlike three or four ball juggling. When the pattern works, it doesn't really feel difficult. Just... overwhelming.

You may be lucky enough to have some five ball jugglers living nearby. I wasn't. Things that inspired me included:

There are also several juggling animation programs which might help give you a feeling for what the pattern looks like. As an example, I've used JuggleAnim, Jack Boyce's Java Juggling Animator, to create an animated GIF of a 5 ball cascade. (For a long time I thought I was just viewing it on a too slow computer, but now I think it really is in slow motion. That's probably my fault, though.)

I used to have a link to the JuggleAnim home page, but that page is gone now. If anyone knows where it moved to, feel free to tell me. In the mean time, you can still find a version - not necessarily the latest - of it at the JIS Java Juggling Software pages.

Please remember that only you can decide what's good for you so feel free to ignore anything you hear or read about five balls. Including this. Just because some piece of advice doesn't work for you it doesn't mean you will be unable to learn five balls. It wasn't until recently that I made much progress with patterns like 5 0 5 0 5 or 5 5 2, and some would say these are among the first things you should learn.

A few personal observations, some of which are - or should be - quite obvious. Bear with me. (Any funny numbers you see below are probably siteswap notation.)

Don't give up. It is worth it.

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Torbjörn Andersson
Last modified: Thu Feb 17 2005