flipCode - Tech File - Jaap Suter [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Jaap Suter
(aka XjaapX)
Click the name for some bio info

E-Mail: J.Suter@student.utwente.nl

   09/18/1999, What you asked for...

Hi ya folks, first of all the good news. I've got a new job. From now on I'll be working twenty hours a week at a Dutch game development company called Davilex (www.davilex.com). I'm still in my trialperiod (which lasts a month and after that half a year). I met Jacco Bikker (a.k.a. The Phantom) there in real life and let me assure you that he is a nice guy in realtime too :).

But that's not what I wanted to talk about. For the moment I haven't got any exciting 3D related news so I won't talk about that either. At the time of writing I'm sitting here bored at school waiting for my brother, so I decided to write about...


I started juggling about four years ago and I am still doing it once every week (on average). It works very well against stress, it's fun to do and you cannot imagine the satisfaction when you juggle with five balls for five minutes.

Five balls is a bit too hard for now so we will do three balls. And even if you have never done it before, I promise you that you will be juggling in about two hours after you read this.

What do we need

First of all we need some (actually three) balls. Get yourself three pair of socks together and roll each of those pairs up into a tight ball. For the initial learning stage these balls are ideal, since they are very light and won't roll away when you drop one on the flour (which will happen a lot at first).

Furthermore I suggest that you go standing at the side of your bed. This way, when you drop a ball it will fall on the bed and you won't have to bow down that far. Hehe, I can still remember the pain in my back I sometimes had.

To make this text readable I use the terms dominating hand and other hand. If you are left handed then our left hand is the dominating hand and your right hand is the other hand. If you are right handed then vice versa.

Starting with one ball

This phase is the second most important part of learning to juggle. If you cannot juggle with one ball then more balls will fail for sure. Actually juggling with one ball is nothing more then throwing it from one hand to the other. Yet this throwing has to be done in a special manner. Take a look at the following picture.

As you can see my drawing qualities suck big time. But the picture serves it's purpose and that's what matters. Start with one ball in your dominating hand. We don't need the other balls right now so you can lay them down on the floor.

Throw the ball from your dominating hand up in the air towards the point that is right ten centimetres before you eyes. Then catch it with the other hand. Try not to look at the ball the moment you catch. Keep your eyes focused on the mid air point right before your eyes. Then throw the ball from the other hand back to the dominating hand in the same (mirrored) manner.

As you have done this a couple of times you will begin to notice that the ball describes the path of an 8 on it's side (bezier curves anyone?). You catch the ball in A and let it go in B. You catch the ball again in D and throw it back in C. Just look at the picture to understand it.

Adding another ball

Once you feel confident with the throwing around of one ball we are going to add another ball. Have one ball in your dominant hand and one in the other hand. Then take a look at the following picture.

It's actually the same picture as the one above but I added two very important points in the path of the balls. M and N are the highest point a ball will ever arrive in. Starting with two balls in the hands you first throw ball number one away in the standard manner. As soon as this ball (ball number one) has arrived in punt M (or N depending on which hand is your dominating hand) you throw away ball number two.

In the beginning you don't have to catch both balls at all. Way more important is the fact that you have the timing of the throw correct. Throw ball number two away when ball number one is at the highest position. Not sooner and not later.

Try this the other way around too. First throw the ball with the other hand and when that ball is at it's highest point then throw the ball you have in your dominating hand.

Then try to catch both balls. (stupid thing to say)

The final frontier (for now)

Most people succeed pretty easy until here.

Start with two balls in you dominating hand and one in your other hand. Do the following withouth cathing the balls first. Timing is very important at this moment and catching the balls is not important at this point.
  • Throw ball number one (that is one from your dominating hand)
  • When that ball is at it's highest position (in point M or N) then you have still one ball in your dominatin hand and one in your other hand.
  • At that point throw the ball from you other hand in the air (this one is thrown underneath through ball number one).
  • When ball number two is at the highest point you throw the last ball in the air.
  • That is all there is too it.

    Now here comes the catching.

    After you have thrown away ball number two (Step 3) you catch ball number one with the other hand. Right after that you throw away ball number three and catch ball number two with it.

    The problem most people have is that they don't dare to throw away the third ball at first. They do this because they are scared that things might become to complex and balls might fall. A thing that might help is screaming: "throw, throw, throw..." in a constant pattern.

    This is ofcourse a very very brief introduction to juggling. If you got any questions about it then please mail me. And if you leaned juggling because of this article (which I doupt :) then you definitely mail me!!


    Jaap Suter

  • 08/22/2000 - Tech File Update
  • 06/15/2000 - Win32 Programming
  • 09/18/1999 - What you asked for...
  • 07/06/1999 - Beamtree Optimizations

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