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KellyH -

Hi Jugglers! I'm currently learning to pass clubs. However, juggling in general does not come naturally to me and I have to work harder than others in my juggling circle and I make slow progress. I worry that the people teaching me to pass are going to become frustrated at my lack of progress. Learning to pass is different than anything else I've tried so far (which isn't much - I'm new to the juggling community). I get discouraged because with passing, there is always someone there to see all of my mistakes.

Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my passing? (Excluding just trying to stabilize my cascade because I am already doing that. I'm also trying to get better at looking through my pattern instead of looking at the clubs.) Are there any exercises or something different that I can practice in order to help my passing? Any suggestions would be welcome.


Orinoco - - Parent

Don't worry about other people watching your mistakes! We all started somewhere. I was mostly taught to pass by Dave Leech at TWJC. In our first session I manage to put a pass squarely between his eyes & knock his glasses off.

To keep passing interesting learn to pick up mid pattern as soon as possible. If you are not picking up on the fly practice can become a bit boring because you spend more time stopping, waiting for the clubs to be collected & restarting than actually juggling. If you can pick up it doesn't matter how many times you drop.

I'm assuming you are starting with 4-count. If you drop one club just stop & keep hold of one club in each hand, do not make any throws until the next pass comes in. This is known as 'holding the gap', it feels counter intuitive at first but is very important to get used to. When the pass comes in do your three self throws & make the outgoing pass, but don't make any more self throws, just hold onto one club in each hand as before. Use this time to locate where the dropped club is on the floor. Catch your partners pass, do your three self throws & make the outgoing pass again, then pick up the dropped club. Don't start juggling immediately, but start with a pass to your partner at the same time as they pass to you.

As you get better you won't need to bother with using 3 beats to locate the dropped club, you'll be able to locate & pick up in three beats no problem.

Don't give up! It's well worth the effort!

Danny Colyer - - Parent

Orin wrote:
"I was mostly taught to pass by Dave Leech at TWJC. In our first session I manage to put a pass squarely between his eyes & knock his glasses off."

You've just reminded me of Nick Beak having to go to A&E to have a contact lens removed after catching one of my clubs in his eye...

KellyH - - Parent

Thanks for the encouragement, Orinoco! I'm going to pass at our meeting tonight. It will be the first time I've passed at an actual club meeting. Hopefully, I won't knock anyone out!

(Sidenote: You mentioned hitting Dave and knocking his glasses off. I'm so clumsy I actually hit myself in the head and broke my glasses on Tuesday; hoping nothing so embarrassing happens tonight.)

david - - Parent

One exercise you can do by yourself is to burn the rhythm into your synapses by throwing yourself a double anytime you'd be throwing your partner a pass. For the four count pattern that's every other right hand throw. If you don't have to think about when to pass and when you don't pass you'll have more time to watch other things. If you're passing with an experienced passer it doesn't matter what you do during the three selfs inbetween as long as you pass on time and catch the incoming. As you progress to other patterns you can use the double technique to get the feel of that pattern by yourself.

KellyH - - Parent

Thanks David! I'll work on that this week. It seems like a really good suggestion. Plus, it will help with future patterns. My "teacher" has been trying to get me to work on three count and it's a struggle. I'll try your technique for getting the rhythm of the pattern. Thank you!

^Tom_ - - Parent

Two things that I think help when going from a beginner passer to an intermediate passer are looking through (which you already mention), and learning to throw the pass from the arm and not from the wrist. This means that you swing your arm by your side, and let the club spin naturally as it flies, the wrist does very little of the work, which helps to make sure that the passes a) don't come too far into the middle and b) makes the spins more reliable.

To help train the second part, learn to slow your solo cascade down a lot, and focus on moving your right (to start off with) arm down beside your hip between throws. You may find yourself sliding the club through your hand whilst you do this -- this helps to make sure that you always have the club in the same position in your hand, which should help with the spin reliability too.

Most of all, enjoy it, and don't give up. As far as I'm concerned, I tend not to get fustrated when teaching people to pass, because I know that however fustrating it might be now, I'm in the process of training up a future new passing partner ;) Most people will probably feel the same way.

KellyH - - Parent

Thanks Tom! I really appreciate the advice. My passes were a mess the other night at my club meeting and one of the jugglers mentioned something similar about dropping my hand down to my side instead of to my front. I had not thought of practicing this on my own like you suggested. I'll definitely try that out this week. Thank you!

Maria - - Parent

Club passing is my favourite kind of juggling! Hope you are enjoying it too.

Don't worry about making mistakes, we all do. I have thrown clubs straight in the face of at least two passing partners (and they are still passing with me when we meet). I have also had clubs thrown in my face or the back of my head, even by experienced passers. Well, if I get one in the back of my head it's most likely my mistake, me standing somewhere else than where I should be at that moment or not turning around to catch a pass when I should... but even very good passers make bad throws, they just do them in more complicated patterns/tricks than the beginners does.

Anyway... Tom ha already given you most of the advice I had in mind. The "move your arm down beside your hip between throws" is a good exercise for passing, and trying to do that on every throw also helped me learn to keep my elbows down.

One thing I found helpful in the "looking through the pattern" practice is to find a mirror, if possible stand on a distance corresponding to normal passing distance from your mirror image, and try to look into your own eyes. Because that is pretty much what you want to do while passing, looking at the other person instead of at your own clubs (most of the time). You can also see your own juggling in the mirror, making it a bit easier than just looking at something else.

Oh... And I have been hitting myself in the head/ear/face with a club more than once when being too focused on another club, so you are not alone. I have not managed to break my glasses yet, but I did choose a pair that seems like they won't break too easily.

KellyH - - Parent

Thanks Maria! Using a mirror is a great suggestion! I'll try to find somewhere to do that. I really appreciate the advice! Thank you!

david - - Parent

If you can find a place where two mirrored surfaces meet at 90 degrees with the join between them running vertical and juggle in front of them, looking into the corner, you'll get an idea of what you look like to your passing partner. Sometimes this can happen with polished stone buildings or glass fronts on stores.

The Void - - Parent

This also has the disturbing effect of making you realise that you *don't* actually look like what a flat mirror makes you think you do.

KellyH - - Parent

This will be more difficult to setup than the other suggestions, but I will see what I can come up with. Thanks for taking the time to post!

KellyH - - Parent

P.S. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one hitting myself. Thanks for sharing that. It's encouraging to know I'm not alone.


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