Understand asynchronous siteswap juggling patterns

In an earlier post, we introduced the iJuggle free siteswap generator & animator for iPhone, iPad which generates and animates siteswap patterns. Today we will talk about the asynchronous siteswap juggling patterns & numbers to help beginners get started.

ijuggle app for iPhone - siteswap generator

Siteswap is a numeric juggling notation used to describe or represent juggling patterns. It is a useful tool for communicating between jugglers, discovering new patterns, and finding transitions between different patterns. “The idea behind siteswap is to keep track of the order that balls are thrown and caught, and only that.” It does not describe body movements such as behind-the-back and under-the-leg. This simplest form of siteswap notation is called vanilla siteswap, which uses only numbers to describe patterns.

Vanilla siteswap rules:

  • Use mainly numbers from 0 up to 9. Each number represents one throw in pattern. Use “a” instead of 10 so we don’t confuse “ten” with “one-zero”, read a as “ten”. “b” represents an eleven-ball cascade throw… and so on. Just writing numbers as letters to avoid ambiguous double-digits.
  • Throws alternate hands, each of the two hands throws in turn; no simultaneous throws allowed.
  • Only one prop or object is thrown at a time, and only one prop or object is caught at a time. No multiplexes or squeezes are allowed.
  • Siteswap heights are relative. For example, 4 goes a little bit higher than 3.
  • The siteswap for a pattern is the smallest repeating numerical sequence (period)
  • Even throws – same hand: even numbers go straight up and pick up with the same hand.
  • Odd throws – alternate hands: odd numbers go to cross.
  • A “0” is a rest with an empty hand.
  • A “1” is a straight cross throw.
  • A “2” is simply a beat you do not throw the ball, just hold the ball.
  • Number of Digits is known as the Period, refers to number of beats before a siteswap repeats. Even period represents one sided trick(asymmetrical), odd period represents alternating trick(symmetrical).
  • Sum of digits/Number of Digits or Period has to yield an integer value; Sum of siteswap digits/Number of digits (or Period)=Number of alls in the pattern. This rule helps determine which patterns are possible to juggle and has been used in the discovery of entirely new juggling patterns.

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