Basic One Ball Moves
I will describe all one-handed moves here using the right hand (my strongest hand), but you should also practice with the left. If you are left-handed, simply reverse instructions here, and don't forget to practice with your right hand. Two-handed moves should also be learned both ways. This chapter is probably best practiced by choosing combinations from the following chapter that you’d like to learn, then learning the moves in this chapter that are necessary for them. The Windshieldwiper and the various Cradles should most definitely be learned, as they are basic to almost all other moves. It is not necessary to learn all possible moves in order to be a great contact juggler. Just learn the basic versions of whatever you feel you can do, then when you feel competent, move on to harder versions and harder moves. Some of the moves at the end of the chapter should not be learned until you have practiced multi-ball and palmspinning. It is possible to learn straight through, but you will be better off with a general education in all styles than in specific in one style.
The first ball-rolling move most people learn is the windshieldwiper. This is a common basic move of a lot of complex combinations, and is also a good filler on its own between moves. It is named after the motion the arm makes, which is similar to the motion of a car’s windshield wiper. The similarity is more obvious when you do it with both arms simultaneously. Start with your ball in the right cradle. It doesn't matter which form of cradle you use. Toss the ball gently upwards, and catch the ball in the same position. Before you move onto the next stage, it is essential that you can do this. You may find that the ball bounces off your hand. In that case, when you are catching the ball, drop your hand at the same speed as the ball and slow it so the ball comes to a gentle rest. It may help to examine closely how you would normally catch a ball in the palm of the hand, and apply that to the cradle. Next, practice the same with the palm. Your forearm should be pointing directly out from you, perpendicular to your chest. This should be easier than the cradle-toss, so won't need as much work. It is important that you do not allow your fingers to curl around the ball as you catch the ball, so a bit more care than usual is needed when cushioning the ball. After you are comfortable with the first two practice tosses, you can go on to the next stage. Practice tossing from the first position (cradle, forearm parallel to the chest) to the second position (palm, forearm perpendicular to the chest). When you are comfortable with that, try practicing the same, but toss the ball back from the palm to cradle as well. Now start to smooth out this movement. Learn to toss from cradle to palm and back again, while keeping the elbow in the same place. A good way to practice this is to hold the elbow with the left hand while tossing with the right (as seen in the images below). The final stage is to lower the height of the toss until the ball is in constant contact with your hand as it moves between palm and cradle. Be very careful here – if you are throwing from palm to cradle and your fingers are curled, the ball will get caught in the curl and be thrown at whatever is next to you! Practice somewhere out of sight of cats, TVs, valuable china, etc. The catches can be smoothed somewhat by moving the hand in the direction of the throw slightly as you catch the ball – i.e.; as you catch a ball tossed from palm to cradle, say, move your hand slightly further to the left to give the ball more space to slow down (before falling off the end of your fingers onto your toes). When you have this smoothly, your arm will be moving in a smooth windshieldwiper-like motion, hence the name of the move. Congratulations, you may now celebrate learning your first contact juggling move!
 Wristhold Windshieldwiper
It is sometimes helpful to have a hand nearby to help you in case you drop the ball. In most cases, though, it is difficult to do this aesthetically. In the 3b Escape I placed onto the contactjuggling.org website, for example, I tried to keep my left hand by my side, but it jerked forward of it’s own accord when I almost dropped a ball from the right forearm. This move, however, allows you to keep a hand nearby while looking sufficiently graceful that it can be considered a move of it’s own. Assuming you are doing the Windshieldwiper in the left hand, here is how to do it. First try it without the ball. Hold a ball in the left palm, which is pointing left. The right hand is palm down, resting flat on the left forearm so the tips of the fingers are near the wrist. The left hand comes up to vertical, with the right hand slipping around the front side of it so the fingers are pointing left and the thumb is at the wrist. The left hand continues down so the ball is in the cradle. The right hand slides further down the back of the forearm and the right forearm is raised so the ball is still visible from the front. Bring the left hand forward so the ball is on the other side of the right forearm. Now, you simply bring the left hand back upwards to the starting position, and the right hand back around to it’s starting position.
 Elbowhold Windshieldwiper
This is just like the Wristhold move, except the right hand is further down towards the left elbow and doesn’t move as much. Start with the left hand as before. This time, the right hand rests on the inside of the left elbow. Butterfly the left hand out until the ball is in the palm. All this while, the right hand remains at the base of the left biceps. Stretch the Windshieldwiper further left and slide the right hand around the right side of the elbow until its fingers are touching the outside of the elbow (the pointy bit). Butterfly the left hand in so the hand drops down inside the loop created by the right arm. Raise the right elbow and dip the left hand further down so you can then bring the left hand forward to the outside of the right arm, and slide the left hand back to the base of the biceps. You can also do this move in the opposite direction, so the ball comes up through the loop, but I think the way I have described is easier to learn.
The butterfly is named after a hand motion used in some Middle-East dances where the hands intertwine and wave as if fluttering in the wind. The butterfly is an extension of the windshieldwiper. In the windshieldwiper, there are two end-points on the arc that the ball follows. We simply smooth the movement out by removing those end points, forming an infinity symbol. Moving your elbow will greatly help you with this move. Imagine a large figure "8" lying on it's side floating in front of you (an infinity symbol). Your ball starts on the bottom of the left loop, in the cradle. The ball then travels to the top of the right loop, where it goes over the fingertips to end up at the bottom of the right loop in the palm. From there, you pull the ball to the top of the left loop, where it goes over the fingertips to end up in the starting position again. Remember that at all times the ball is moving right, the ball should be in the cradle, and at all times while moving left, the ball should be in the palm of the hand. Good movement of the elbow will help you here, so limber up! The butterfly can be reversed, but there is little benefit to it – the average audience member will not notice the difference. Note: “Butterfly” is also used as a verb to describe the rolling of the ball from the palm to cradle and vice-versa, no matter how the movement is accomplished.
 Twirling Butterfly
Immediately, we see an example of the word “Butterfly” being subverted. This move does not form an infinity symbol, so technically it shouldn’t be called a Butterfly, but the word is so much nicer than Windshieldwiper, that it is used in almost all cases where the word Windshieldwiper should really go. Live with it. Start by placing your right hand palm up, and your left hand over it palm down so they cross at the wrist. The wrists should touch at all times. Now put the forearms together, bringing the hands up, and keeping the fingertips of the left hand as far apart from the right-hand fingertips (and vice versa) as possibly. You should end up with a ‘T’ shape. Continue the movement of the hands so the forearms are brought apart and down again, and the hands cross each other again at the wrist, this time with the left hand palm up and the right hand palm down. Repeat the movement in reverse to bring yourself back to the beginning again. When you repeat this quickly, you’ll see that the hands are “twirling” around each other. This is the basis of the name “Twirling” Butterfly. Start from the beginning again, but this time with a ball on the right palm. Straighten the forearms out into the ‘T’ shape. The ball is still in the right hand, but moving towards the fingers. Now, as you bring the twirl to a finish, “Butterfly” the ball over the fingertips and down into the cradle. That is the end of the first part. From there, “Butterfly” the ball into the right palm as you straighten out the forearms again. When the ball rolls over the fingertips, you should be in the ‘T’ position again. Continue the twirl, bringing the ball back to the original position.
 Spined Butterfly
The butterfly motion can be performed in many different ways – this is a way to perform it in an almost flat line, using what Ferret calls a “flip-flop” to do the butterflying part of the move. Start with a ball in the right palm, with the palm held far to the left. Bring the palm to the right until it’s held in the normal position just to the right of the chest. Now, bring the hand up slightly, and flip the hand under the ball so the ball rolls into the cradle. Continue the movement of the cradle to the far right. If you are doing this with both hands, you can either start both butterflies from opposite sides of the chest (arms crossed), or from the same side. If you are starting both from the same side, then the hand which is on it’s own side of the body (i.e.: the left hand if you are staring on the left) starts with the ball in the cradle position, and ends up in the Palm Hold (remember that all contact juggling moves can be reversed!). Expanding even further, you can add a third ball. Perform a 2b Spined Butterfly as above, both hands moving from the same side, but start with a third ball held in the palm-down hand. When the hands are flipping over, pass the ball from a Thumb Hold in the first hand to the second. The pass is a form of Thumb-Thumb Pass (described later in this chapter).
 Planebreaking Butterfly
In the original CJ book, “Contact Juggling”, James Ernest pointed out that most CJ moves seem to be in only two dimensions, and that they can be expanded into the third just by thinking about it. This is one example of that – instead of X and Y, we move the butterfly in Y and Z. Place your right hand out, cradle upwards, and put your ball on the cradle. Now, swing the arm up and back so the ball rolls over the fingertips to land in the palm, which is just above the right shoulder. The hardest part of this is when you bring the ball back down – be very careful! If you make a mistake, your ball may get trapped in the curl of your fingers, and be flung straight out in front of you – destroying whatever mirror you’re practicing in front of, or smacking an audience member unexpectedly (I hope they never expect to be smacked…). Another variation on this is the Reverse Planebreaking Butterfly, which is practically the same movement, but with the palm upwards in the beginning, and the cradle at the end held above the shoulder.
 Palm-Palm Pass
There are four basic palm-palm passes – the "classic palm-palm pass", a more difficult one I call the "chalice palm-palm pass", a variant of what is called the "cheater palm-palm pass", and the “baby pass”. The "classic palm-palm pass" is extremely simple – just hold your hands together, knife-edges and little fingers of both hands together. Now place the ball in the right palm, and simply roll it to the other palm, so it crosses at the base of the little fingers. It's called the "classic" palm-palm pass because it's the most basic method to do it. For the "chalice palm-palm pass", hold your forearms together so they're pointing in front of you and up. The palms should face upwards, with the right fingers pointing right, and the left fingers left. Place the ball in the right palm, and roll it across the heels of the hands to the other palm. I call it the "chalice" palm-palm pass because of the shape the arms and hands make. The "cheater palm-palm pass" is based on a lazy way to do the classic palm-palm pass, but smoothed up. Place your hands together so they're both pointing right, and the left little finger is touching the right knife-edge of the palm. Roll the ball from the right palm, across the knife-edges into the left palm, sliding the hands towards the left all the while so you end up with the hands pointing left, right little finger against left knife-edge. This pass allows you to make the movement quite large, which is good for stage work. For the “baby pass”, you should start with your right palm facing up, the little finger next to the left armpit. The left hand is also palm up, with it’s little finger next to the right forearm or elbow. This position is similar to how a baby is held against the chest. The ball rolls from the right hand to the left. From those four basic passes, it is possible to make more complex passes – palm-palm passes with the wrists crossed, palm-palm passes with the forearms twisted right round, palm-palm passes over the fingertips. As long as the ball passes from one palm into the other without too much messing around in between, it is a palm-palm pass. The choice of which you use at any particular time is aesthetic – whatever looks best is best.
 Back-Palm Pass
There are two basic forms of back-palm passes. For the most common form, place your right hand in front of you pointing to the left, palm down, and a ball in the cradle. Place the left hand so it’s pointing the same direction, palm up, with the heel of the hand touching the right hand’s fingertips. This is kind of an awkward position, but it can be adapted to more comfortable positions after it’s learned. Simply pass the ball along the fingers to the left palm. For a more comfortable form of the above move, place your hands in the beginning position again, then, keeping the heel and fingertips together, move the left hand forward. You’ll find that the angle becomes less awkward, yet the look of the move hasn’t degraded. This version of the back-palm pass is used in the “horizontal circle”. In the less common one, the ball is passed from the cradle back up the arm and off at the wrist to the other palm. The first form is good for large movements, and can be performed slowly, even “isolated”. The second is good for tight, or quick, movements, and is good for passing during “twirling butterflies” parts of your routine.
 Palm-Back Pass
This is just the opposite of the previous pass. The ball is passed from the palm of one hand to the cradle of the other. The most common two methods are similar to the two most common Back-Palm Passes, but in the opposite direction. For the most common version, place your hands in line, left hand pointing left and palm up, right hand pointing left with the palm down and the fingertips touching the left heel. Pass the ball from the left hand to the right. This must be done relatively slowly; as it is difficult to correct high-speed passes in that position (the hands aren’t too maneuverable like that). The more uncommon pass is done by placing the right hand palm down, parallel to the chest, and the left hand above it, palm up, both wrists touching. The ball passes from the right palm over the base of the thumb to the left hand. In this move, the right hand has more movement available to it, so fast passes can be corrected by raising the fingers, making the ball slow. There is a “Baby Pass” version of this as well. The right hand is placed palm up, with the little finger next to the left armpit. The right hand is placed alongside the left forearm with the thumb pointing downish so the left index finger is fully in contact with the right forearm. The ball is rolled from the right hand along the arm to the left.
 Back-Back Pass
The Back-Back Pass is the more difficult of the basic passes, and can be very frustrating for the beginner. Don’t worry, though – persevere! You will get it. Start with a ball in the right cradle; arm parallel with the chest. Place the left hand in front of it so the base of the index finger is against the right wrist. There is a groove between the index finger and thumb that slides very nicely against the opposite forearm. Try to get your hand into a comfortable position there so that the base of the left thumb is against the right hand’s heel. To start off learning this pass, it is possibly best to bend the left hand up and back so the fingers end up almost touching the ball in an almost vertical cradle. Tip the hands over to the right so the ball rolls over the right knuckles and is stopped by the left hand’s fingers. Tip the hand further and further so the ball is supported more and more in the left cradle, until you can take away the right hand. That method is only good for learning the move – it will hinder the speed at which you can perform moves at a later stage, so we’ll learn to improve it now. Starting again in the same position, lift the right fingers up to about 30 degrees, tilting hand so the ball rolls to the left hand, passing on to just behind the left knuckles. The ball should have enough speed to continue on to the left cradle position. If you find that the ball continues too far and falls off, you can slow its progress by raising the left fingers up at an angle to cause the ball to have to climb uphill. The further you raise the fingers, the quicker the ball will slow. It is also a good idea to move the receiving hand slightly in the direction of the ball’s motion, bringing it to a halt smoothly. You can practice this using a move called the Back-Back Roll. Pass from the right cradle to the left cradle, then bring your right hand under the left to the other side and pass again from left to right. Done continuously, this feels great, and looks like the ball is rolling left to right. This pass is not yet complete. As it is, you are passing directly from the cradle to the opposite cradle. To make it look a lot better, and increase the control you have over the action, you can lengthen the move out by passing to positions further down the hand and back of the arm. Be careful, though – I used to practice with glass balls, which are very heavy and very hard. This caused bruising on the backs of my hands that took weeks to get rid of . The best place to pass to aesthetically is possibly the position near the base of the radius and ulna bones, but not so near that the ball hits the lump of the ulna’s base (that can hurt, too).
 Back-Back Walkaway
This move is based on a variant of the Back-Back pass, and looks best when isolated. Start with a ball on the right cradle, hand pointing forwards. Place the left hand in front of the right and roll the ball onto it so at passes onto the back of the left hand and rolls to it’s cradle. Now, repeat the same move onto the right hand. You will need to step forward to be comfortable with this. The move can then be repeated over and over, all the while walking forward. The effect is that the ball is “walking away”, hence Walkaway. This move can also be isolated – the ball stays still, and the hands are pulled from under it, keeping the same movements of the hands, but the ball doesn’t move. This gives the effect that the ball is floating, which is a point of all isolations. You can also reverse the move, so the ball is actually coming back towards you. In this case, you start with the ball on a cradle, and roll the ball backwards, picking it up with the opposite cradle. If done right, this makes the ball appear as if it’s moving smoothly along a path which is being created as it moves. If you reverse this move, it becomes the Back-Back Walktowards (imaginative naming scheme!).
 Palm-Palm Walkaway
After learning the Back-Back Walkaway, you should find this simple to learn. It is exactly as you would imagine. Hold a ball in the left palm, place the right hand in front of it so it’s heel touches the left fingertips, and then roll the ball forward onto the right palm. Then repeat with the left hand in front. You can, of course, variate this idea further by having Back-Palm Walkaways, Palm-Back Walktowards, etc. I guess further instruction would be very redundant.
 Thumb-Thumb Pass
This is part of the Twirling Butterfly suite of moves, and looks out of place with most other moves. Start with the right hand over the left, crossing at the wrist. A ball is held in the right Thumb Hold. Twirl the hands as you would a normal Twirling Butterfly, pausing at the palm-palm position to roll the ball from the right hand to the left, grabbing it in the left Thumb Hold. Continue the twirl so you end up in a mirror image of the starting position, then repeat back.