Juggling clubs, or simply “Clubs” are a popular prop used by jugglers, either on their own—usually in sets of three or more—or in combination with other props such as balls or rings. A typical club is in the range of 50 to 70 cm (about 2 feet) long, is slim at the ‘handle’ and is weighted at the wider end.
The most basic pattern of club juggling, as in ball juggling, is the cascade. Clubs are thrown from alternate hands; each passes underneath the other clubs and is caught in the opposite hand to the one from which it was thrown. Typically a club rotates once during a throw, though it is possible to throw a “double”, “triple”, etc. where the club rotates more than once. A “reverse” throw involves throwing the club so that it rotates in the opposite direction to usual.
Clubs are the object of choice for passing between jugglers. Juggling clubs are much larger than balls, so they require less accuracy to catch when thrown by another person.
When making a pass to another juggler, the club usually completes one-half extra rotation than a self throw. This is because a passed club rotates in the opposite direction from a self throw. In passing clubs, the club rotates in the opposite direction as a rolling wheel. For a reverse throw the club rotates the same direction as a rolling wheel — rolling in the same direction — would rotate, such that the handle comes down into the catcher’s upturned hand. In a ‘normal’ throw the hand catches the club with the hand turned palm downwards. This is opposite of the way a club is caught when thrown to oneself.
Beginning club passing is generally done with six clubs between two jugglers, each passing every fourth beat. The passes are made from one juggler’s right hand to the other juggler’s left hand, so the clubs travel perpindicular to both jugglers. This basic pattern is called four count or every-others. The four-count (pass – two – three – four, pass – two – three – four, pass – two – three – four) is well suited to juggling to music.
More advanced club passing can involve more objects, more jugglers and more intricate patterns. A notation for describing club passing patterns, called causal notation was developed by Martin Frost of the Stanford Juggling Research Institute. Other recommended resources can be viewed on the Princeton Juggling resource pages.
Most ball-juggling tricks can be performed with clubs, though they are generally more difficult because of the size of the clubs and because of the extra complexity added by their rotation.
The world record for most clubs juggled (i.e., longest time or most catches with each club at minimum being thrown and caught at least twice without dropping) is seven clubs for 2 minutes 49 seconds, achieved by Anthony Gatto in 2005. The record for most clubs flashed (i.e., each club thrown and caught only once) is nine clubs, achieved by Bruce Tiemann in 1996 and since equalled by Scott Sorensen in 1997 and Chris Fowler in 2003.