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Welcome To The SAIL Juggling Program

Siteswap Emulator

 Created by Lao Alovus


Just The Basics

Siteswap notation is a mathematical language for describing juggling patterns.  Once learned it is fairly easy to pickup new patterns and there are limitless variations.  Siteswap only takes into consideration the duration an object is in the air and which hand it is thrown to.  It does not take into account how a throw is made (ex. under the arm, behind the back etc.) or how it is caught (ex. penguin, over the shoulder etc.).  Adding different types of throws and catches are common ways to expand siteswap patterns to make them more interesting and difficulty.

Note:  You do not need to understand what follows to enjoy the Siteswap Emulator.  In fact, much of the material that follows will likely make more sense and be more beneficial after using the emulator.  Also, the 2 ball emulator does not require any juggling experience and is a good place to start if you can juggle but have never learned siteswap.

What The Numbers Mean

  0 = Empty hand not throwing a ball

  1 = Throwing a ball straight across to the other hand (sometimes called a vamp or handacross)

  2 = Holding a ball (can also be a very low throw caught in the hand that threw it)

  3 = Crossing throw (used in a 3 ball cascade, caught in the non-throwing hand)

  4 = Column throw (used in a 4 ball fountain, caught in the throwing hand, thrown 1/3 higher than a 3)

  5 = Crossing throw (used in a 5 ball cascade, caught in the non-throwing hand, thrown 1/4 higher than a 4)

  6 = Column throw (used in a 6 ball fountain, caught in the throwing hand, thrown 1/5 higher than a 5)

  7 = Crossing throw (used in a 7 ball cascade, caught in the non-throwing hand, thrown 1/6 higher than a 6)

etc., etc. etc.

Note:  There is no definitive height for any given number.  Each height is determined by the height of other throws such that if your 3 is low (say, below your chin) then your other throws should be low too, but if your 3 is above your head, your 7's should be really high.  It's all relative.  Experiment to find heights that work together.  If a pattern feels rushed, you are likely not throwing your high throws high enough, your low throws low enough or both.  To expand:  a 5 is 1/4 higher than a 4, therefore, if correctly thrown, it should be 2/3 higher than a 3 and 1/6 lower than a 6.  Not sure that helps...

A Few Things To Consider:

1.    Odd numbered throws cross while even numbers return to the throwing hand.

2.    Each number tells how high (and to which hand) you throw a ball.

3.    0's and 2's represent not throwing.  In most circumstances the other hand will, therefore, throw twice in a row.

4.    Throws (numbers) alternate hands but you can start with either hand.

5.    The sequence of numbers can be repeated indefinitely.

6.    The average of any siteswap is equal to the number of objects in the pattern (cool!).

       ex. the average of 441 is 3, so 441 it is a 3 ball pattern


Advanced Concepts:

  1. Periods are the number of throws before a pattern repeats. 

Ex. 51 (3 ball full shower) = 2 periods, 6631 = 4 periods


  2. If the swap is an even period (2, 4 etc.) it will repeat on one side only.  That is, throws done with your right hand will be thrown with your right again when the pattern repeats, same goes for the left hand.

Ex. 42, 6451 etc.

  3. If the swap is an odd period (3, 5 etc.) it will alternate sides when repeated.  That is, when the pattern repeats, right hand throws will be thrown with the left hand and left hand throws will be thrown with the right hand.

Ex. 423, 55550 etc.

  4. If you add a number to the end of any swap equal to the number of juggled objects it will change the pattern to either one or two sided, whichever it wasn't.  The patterns 42 and 423 are a good example.  42 is two-in-one hand while holding a third ball while 423 is one throw of two-in-one hand on one side, then the other, back and forth.


  5. a, which is a very high column throw, is used in place of 10 to avoid confusion (10 is something else),  b is 11, c is 12 an so on.


  6. All of the above is for basic, or vanilla siteswap patterns, which are A-sync siteswap patterns where you alternate throwing hands (right, left, right etc.).  There is an expanded notation for synchronous patterns, patterns where both hands throw at the same time.  Synchronous siteswaps show each set of throws in parenthesis, add an (x) after crossing throws and call 1's (vamps) 2x instead. 

Ex. (4,6x)(2X,0) first, one hand throws a column 4 (4) at the same time the other hand throws a crossing 6 (6x).

Then, the hand that threw a 4 (4) throws a ball straight across 1 (2x) while the other hand is empty 0 (0), repeat. This is a fairly basic 3 ball sync pattern but is a lot of fun.  One hand's throws are in red, the other's are show in green.

There is also a notation for multiplex siteswap patterns: patterns that involve throwing multiple balls from the same hand at the same time.  Dig...


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I'd like to give a big thanks to Jack Boyce and others involved in the Juggle Lab project for providing the animation code used on this site as well as my school's tech guy, Michael Mcdaniel, for getting me going and doing the code modifications. And a big thanks to Michael Wohlgemuth for porting this over to SchoolWires (the new leonschools.net pages)