Palm Rolling


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This technique allows you to bring a lot of variety to your palm rolling. The disadvantage with all the techniques described so far is that they do not show up very well when seen from the front. The audience would have a better view if they were looking down from above. However, lifting enables you to shift the patterns you have learned so far into a vertical plane, and by combining these basic techniques you can produce a whole series of new variations and impressions. When lifting it becomes particularly important to prevent the balls from bumping into each other. Instead they should be in permanent contact with one another, otherwise the pattern can easily become jerky.


When you roll three balls forwards, each rotation brings you into the position shown in (Fig. 1). If you now, instead of pushing the ball forward with your thumb, press it against the other two, the thumb will start to lift it (Fig. 2). The tip of your ring finger then catches it on the other side (Fig. 3). The front ball remains between your index and middle fingers during the lift. If you perform this movement continuously you get a pattern in which the two rear balls revolve around each other, while the front one remains stationary.


This pattern is the reverse of the back lift-in. All you have to do is reverse the movements, i.e. starting from the Fig. 3 position you lift the ball with the ring finger and catch it with the thumb (Fig. 2). In order to maintain this pattern, try pushing the ball that the thumb has just received under the rear ball (Fig. 4). The rotation of the rear two balls is now a mirror image of the back lift-in.


Almost the same as the back lift-in, except that this time the ball lifted by the thumb should be a bit further forward (Fig. 5). While the thumb lifts this ball, the "stationary" ball now lies between the fleshy parts of the palm at the base of the thumb and the little finger (Fig. 6). Again the ring finger catches the lifted ball (Fig. 7) and rolls it over the other fingers back into the Fig.5 position. Obviously, if you do this continuously the front two balls will revolve around each other.


This pattern is the reverse of the front lift-in. Just try to switch directions while rolling (Fig. 7) - (Fig. 5).


It would be a labour of Sisyphus to list all the possible combinations - and anyway, we wouldn't want to spoil the fun you can have discovering them all. So here are just a few suggestions to get you started and whet your appetite.

1. You could, for example, combine forward rolling in the right hand with backward rolling in the left hand. (All the balls turn in the same direction. Practise synchronizing the movements.)

2. Combine right: forwards, back lift-in, forwards, front lift-out; with left: forwards, front lift-out, forwards, back lift-in.

3. Try alternating front lift-out with back lift-out with both hands. Here the balls describe a sort of figure-eight in your hand, with one hand's pattern a mirror image of the other's. (Thanks, Reinhardt!)

4. Combine right: front lift-out, back lift-out; with left: front lift-in, back lift-in. The balls turn in the same direction in both hands.



This technique corresponds to the front lift-out except that now you have one more ball. The rear ball is the pivot and the base for the rotation. You may run into problems here if the balls you're using are too big (or the hands you're using are too small). A simple way of finding out is to pick up the four balls and see if you can knock the top one off with your thumb. If you can, then the front turn-out is within your reach. If not, you can still form the same pattern using two hands - but we'll talk about that later. Hold the four balls as shown in Fig. 8. Now turn your wrist outwards and allow the two front balls to roll as far as possible onto the little finger. If you managed to avoid dropping the top ball, you should now be in the Fig. 9 position. Now press your thumb gently against the top ball and turn your wrist outwards again. As you do this, the ring finger manoeuvres a different ball onto the top (Fig. 10). After a while the movements will become more and more fluid. I now find it "safer" than the ordinary 4 ball palm-roll.


If you turn that last pattern around you get the front turn-in. The simplest way of learning this is probably to do the front turn-out, stop and try to reverse it. If you don't succeed first time, go back to outward turns and observe exactly what your hand is doing. Then try the reversal again.


Hold the balls as shown in Fig. 11 and roll the two bottom balls on the inside of your hand as far forward as you can (Fig. 12). Catch the top ball with the base of your thumb, while at the same time pushing up the front ball with your ring finger (Fig. 13). If you now let the balls roll, they should find their way back to the Fig. 11 position.


If you've mastered the side turn-in to the point where you've got it completely under control throughout the cycle, you can also turn it around.


By learning to do smooth transitions between the various 4-ball patterns you can create the impression that it is not you rolling the balls, but that they are trying to run away from you. This illusion works best if you can make a fluid and controlled transfer of the 4-ball pyramid from one hand to the other.

Eva and Wolfgang, Duo Wirbelwind,
Dortmund, Germany

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