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First passing patterns with 5 clubs

Introduction

This step is intended to teach you to throw a club and to receive one all while juggling.  Using "just" 5 clubs allows you to separate the two movements which in a normal passing pattern happen one right after the other.  Divide and conquer, as they say.  Be sure to be well practiced in throwing and catching first. In the following exercises, try to throw with the whole arm and not just with the wrist.

A bit of vocabulary before we begin:  a self is a throw made to oneself, as opposed to passes.  A self can refer to single or double throws, clubs that are handed across... but unless stated otherwise (and in particular, in all of the learning section) they are single-spin throws which go from one hand to the other.

So take 5 clubs for 2 jugglers.  While A (one juggler) juggles 3 clubs, B (the other) waits with the other 2 (one in each hand) until A throws him a pass.  B then tries (tries, since at first it doesn't always work) to start to juggle with the club coming in, to stabilize, then to send another pass to A and begin again.


First dilemma

You now have to make a crucial choice.  Either:
1. start learning to pass with patterns where you throw with the right hand and catch with the left hand, or
2. start working both hands equally right away

In your opinion, what should you do?
Work both hands equally, of course.  You must realize that it's undoubtedly a bit harder at first, but that will make up for itself in the long run.  Ambidextrous passing patterns far outnumber unilateral ones, so you will have to learn them anyway one day.  Why only use your right hand only to find yourself later faced with problems with your left hand throws and have to relearn everything?  It is now, at the beginning, that you should learn good habits.

Voilà, that's the thought of the day, in hopes that the new generation of passers will be equally at ease with both hands.  Now it's up to you to make your choice--the two methods of learning are on the table.


Practice exercises

Ambidextrous rhythm

Start with 3 clubs for B (2 in the right hand and 1 in the left) and 2 for A (1 in each hand).  Then:

1
2
3
4
5
6
B's pass
solo juggling for A
A's pass
solo juggling for B

You will notice that in this passing pattern (yes, it's a passing pattern, maybe even your first passing pattern!), A only makes left-handed throws and B only makes right-handed throws.  So you need to switch roles to work both your hands.

As soon as one of the two of you feels comfortable with this exercise, (the other should get there too, but it's not necessary for both to do this at the same time), that person may try to pass the club a certain (predefined) time after having caught it.  This is a matter of deciding upon a fixed number of selfs that you will make between the moment you catch and the moment you throw back.  With 6 clubs, the 2 jugglers must make their passes at the same time, and they have to make exactly the same number of selfs after catching a pass in order to throw the next pass at the same time (otherwise there will be 4 clubs on one side and 2 on the other).  

With classical ambidextrous rhythms, you can choose any even number (including 0) to decide how many selfs you're going to make between catching a pass and making one.  I suggest trying 4 selfs to begin with (5-count) then try with 2 selfs (3-count)  Here also you should change roles so that each may practice with both hands.

5-count (4 selfs)

All you have to do is count precisely 4 selfs after catching a pass; the throw following the 4th self will be your pass.

Here I'm introducing the first causal diagram to familiarize you with the concept.  Each line of letters corresponds to a juggler (B on top and A on bottom).  Each arrow represents a throw--a self if it stays on the same line, a pass if the arrow changes lines.  Begin reading the diagram left-to-right, thus (R=Right, L=Left):
- B : RH pass to A
- A : LH self
- A : RH self
- A : LH self
- A : RH self
- A : LH pass to B
- B : RH self
- .... etc

To learn everything there is to know about causal diagrams, see causal diagrams and siteswaps in passing.

3-count (2 selfs)

You may find 3-count too fast at first, barely having enough time to stabilize your pattern before you have to pass again already.  What you're going to do is, when a club is coming toward your left hand:  LH self (so you can catch the club), RH self, LH pass.  An easy way to know what you have to do is to take note that the club you'll be passing is the same as the one you just caught.  In other words, if you take one red club and four white ones, you should be able to pass the red one back and forth while each juggler keeps the same two white clubs.

The causal diagram is here so that you can look at it and compare it to 5-count.

Also try the non-ambidextrous exercises below, which will also be useful for you, and then you can try them on the right side AND the left!  Then you can try your first 6-clubs patterns.


Non-ambidextrous rhythms

B starts with 3 clubs (2 in the right hand and 1 in the left hand) and A with 2 (1 in each hand).  Then it goes like this (differences between this and ambidextrous rhythms are in bold italics):

1
2
3
4

5
6

7
B's pass
solo juggling for A
A's pass
solo juggling for B

As soon as one of the two of you feels comfortable with this exercise, (the other should get there too, but it's not necessary for both to do this at the same time), that person may try to pass the club a certain (predefined) time after having caught it.  This is a matter of deciding upon a fixed number of selfs that you will make between the moment you catch and the moment you throw back.  With 6 clubs, the 2 jugglers must make their passes at the same time, and they have to make exactly the same number of selfs after catching a pass in order to throw the next pass at the same time (otherwise there will be 4 clubs on one side and 2 on the other).

With classic non-ambidextrous rhythms, you can choose any odd number to decide how many selfs you're going to make between catching a pass and making one.  I suggest trying 5 selfs to begin with (6-count), then try with 3 selfs (4-count).

In 6-count, you throw back the club that you just caught as soon as it arrives in your right hand (if you caught it in your left hand).  In 4-count, you pass the club that is in your right hand when the club that you caught gets there.  It all comes down to throwing a pass instead of a 4th self (which is how we get 4-count, and it's similar for all n-count).

This is the causal diagram of 4-count with 5 clubs (see above notes on 5-count for a quick explanation, or to learn more about causal diagrams, see causal diagrams and siteswaps in passing).

When this becomes easy for you, you are ready for your first 6-clubs patterns.