Is it normal to be able to run the 5 ball cascade for 300+ catches without much trouble, but at the same time not be able to do more than 4-ish rounds of any siteswap? I spend most of my time practicing different siteswaps with 5 balls yet I never seem to improve much on them.
For my part, I think, it's normal ..
with some work / time put into it, I would get to about ten rounds of a trick - I like towers - which is then already 50 throws of it, being a respectable fraction of even hundreds of catches of the cascade endured.
Siteswapping truly IS genuinely different from doing a same kind of throw on and on, I say; there's more vivid 'music' in them, melody, rhythm, beat, funk, anything, and the chance to miss a certain throw is unlikely greater, and also you have to get .. no, wait, I'll start this sentence anew .. also heights, spacing, thrust thrown, impact of landing props, and surely more aspects and properties of a pattern, are all slightly or notably different, thus all in all more difficult to master.
I can run 5 balls for 10 minutes, but the only siteswaps I have ever managed to run for 30+ rounds are 744 and some synch patterns I think.
What siteswaps are you working on? Also, have you learned any with 4 balls?
I'm practicing 97531, 753, 744, 9444, 645 and 6x4 mostly and I go through all of these in my practice sessions and I can run 10+ 4 ball siteswaps without much trouble. Do you think the problem could be that I switch between a lot of different siteswaps instead of grinding out one siteswap forever until it's solid?
No, I think it's just that a lot of siteswap patterns are intrinsically bloody hard to do, and the slightest variation in trajectory can blow things up a way down the line. Juggling 5 in a standard cascade, if you get one throw a bit "off", maybe throw a 5-and-a-half or off to one side, you can mostly recover. Throw a seven-and-a-half in 753, the problem shows up further down the line and in a place where it's difficult to recover.
Doing several siteswaps in one session worked for me, "grinding" patterns isn't my thing. Maybe that's why I'm rubbish.
Different jugglers practice in different ways, but I can tell you what worked for me.
I think the some of the most important 4 ball siteswaps for 5 ball juggling are 534, 633, 7333, 7441, 7531, (6x,4)(2,4x) and (6x,4)(2,4x)*. I think it would be a good idea for you to work on these if you haven't already.
In your original post, you said that you struggle to do 4 rounds of any of the 5 ball siteswaps. You might be wasting your time working on 97531 if you struggle with 4 rounds of 744. 744 is easier than 753, which is easier than 97531. Therefore, it makes sense to work on them (or at least, prioritise them) in that order. (Some jugglers may disagree with this, saying that working on things way outside your current skill level is a good idea. I don't think spending loads of time on these things is productive.)
In my opinion, 744 and (6x,4)* are the easiest 5 ball siteswaps for beginners. When I was at your level, I spent most of my time working on them. You will probably make faster progress if you focus on a smaller number of tricks. Your progress with 744 and (6x,4)* will, in turn, benefit your other siteswaps.
Maybe you think they're trivial, but I think (6x,4x) and 73 are easier than those. One sided, admittedly, so learn them both ways, like I didn't. (Hmmm, wonder if that has anything to do with why I'm rubbish at... nah, nothing, nevermind...)
It seems pretty normal to me, running a 5 balls and running 5 balls siteswaps is pretty different. When you do a 5 balls cascade, you always throw at the same height, same movement etc ... So you can just "lock" your arms into doing the same thing. It does not need to be "perfect". So when the dreaded time to throw a 7 or else comes, you need to relearn a brand new way of juggling 5 balls.
There's really a gap between juggling 5 balls and doing 5 balls siteswaps. Some are harder than the others.
What really helped me was to learn more complicated and advanced 4 balls siteswaps. It's easier compared to the 5 balls ones, and it can train you to do some high and funky throw combinations! It's also good for the mind because you can learn those patterns in a few days / weeks compared to weeks / months for the 5 balls one.
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