Tricks in three count / causal diagrams

Causal diagrams were created by Martin Frost and they are the best tool for recording passing patterns and creating new ones. I will explain them by describing some tricks in three count, that way if nothing else, you can learn some nice tricks! But hopefully it will encourage you to try learning patterns by reading causal diagrams, and ideally you will be inspired to create your own patterns/tricks by playing with these diagrams.

Three count

Causal diagrams show how one throw causes another throw. In three count both jugglers start with a right handed pass. In order to catch Adam’s pass, Brenda has to throw the club she’s holding in her left hand. So Adam’s first right hand throw causes Brenda’s first left hand throw. This is shown by drawing an arrow from Adam’s first right hand beat to Brenda’s first left hand beat.

causal diagram for Adam's pass to BrendaBrenda throws a right hand pass at the same time as Adam. This pass causes Adam’s first left hand throw. This is shown by drawing an arrow from Brenda’s first right hand beat to Adam’s first left hand beat.

causal diagram of Brenda's pass to AdamAdam’s first left hand throw is a self. In order to catch this self he has to throw the club he’s holding in his right hand. So his first left hand throw causes his second right hand throw. This is shown by drawing an arrow from Adam’s first left hand beat to his second right hand beat.

causal diagram for Adam's self throwBrenda throws a left hand self at the same time as Adam. This self causes her second right hand throw. This is shown by drawing an arrow from Brenda’s first left hand beat to her second right hand beat.

causal diagram for Brenda's self throwFor both jugglers the third throw is a right hand self, which causes the next left hand throw. The fourth throw is a left hand pass which causes the other juggler to do a right hand throw. The fifth throw is a right hand self which causes a left hand throw. The sixth throw is a left hand self which causes the next right hand throw. The pattern then repeats.

causal diagram for three countI often scribble causal diagrams on bits of paper and I find that drawing all the arrow heads takes time and makes the diagram look ugly, so I leave them out! If a line in a causal diagram has no arrow head then you can assume that the arrow is pointing towards the right of the diagram.

causal diagram for three countCausal diagrams assume that each hand is holding a club. Also each line represents a club in the air. As there are four hands, and two line running through this pattern, this diagram shows a six club pattern.

Apart from some beats at the beginning and end of the diagram, each beat has one arrow pointing to it and one arrow pointing away from it. In this diagram each juggler’s first right hand beat has no arrow pointing to it, but an arrow pointing away from it. This shows that they both jugglers started with an extra club in their right hand.

animation for three countFive club three count

If you haven’t done three count before you might struggle to pass with your left hand or indeed catch passes with your right hand. In that case you should try doing five club three count.

causal diagram for five club three countYou can tell that this is a five club pattern because there are four hands and there’s one line running through the diagram. Adam’s first right hand beat has no arrow pointing to it, so he starts with two clubs in his right hand, and causal diagrams assume that every other hand starts holding one club.

Adam’s first right hand throw is a pass. It causes Brenda’s first right hand throw, one and a half beats later. So it’s a crossing pass and it’s in the air for half a beat longer than a normal pass. This is a floaty single pass. It should be higher than a normal pass, with a bit less spin too. Brenda throws two self throws and then a straight floaty right hand pass to Adam. This causes Adam to do two self throws and then a crossing floaty left hand pass to Brenda. Adam’s pass causes Brenda to do two self throws and then a straight floaty left hand pass. This causes Adam to do two self throws and then the whole pattern repeats. The beats with no arrows pointing to them or away from them show the juggler holding a club for that beat. Strictly speaking they should each have an arrow pointing from that beat back to itself, but I think these arrows make the diagrams look ugly, so I leave them out!

animation of five club three countAn early double

One nice thing about causal diagrams is that lines that point to throws one, or one and a half beats later show single spin throws, and lines that point to throws two, or two and a half beats later show double spin throws. Let’s suppose Brenda wants to throw a double pass that lands in Adam’s pattern at the usual time. On a causal diagram draw a line that points to the usual beat in Adam’s pattern, but starts from two beats before in Brenda’s pattern.

causal diagram for an early doubleRemember that each beat in a causal diagram has one arrow pointing to it and one arrow pointing away from it. Having added the line for the double pass to the diagram, there’s a left hand beat in Brenda’s pattern that has two arrows pointing away from it, and one in Adam’s pattern that has two arrows pointing to it. We can fix this by removing the two red lines in the diagram.

causal diagram for an early doubleSo to throw a double pass that lands on time, Brenda does: pass self double hold self self, and then continues with the normal three count pattern. Note that the double is a left to left throw, so it’s a crossing pass. Adam’s pattern is not changed by this trick, apart from having to catch a double pass. This is known as an early double pass. In three count you can throw an early double with either hand.

A late double

What happens if Brenda throws a double pass on the normal pass beat? On a causal diagram draw a line that points away from the usual passing beat in Brenda’s pattern, but points to a throw two beats later in Adam’s pattern.

causal diagram for a late doubleHaving added the line for the double pass to the diagram, there’s a right hand beat in Brenda’s pattern that has two arrows pointing away from it, and one in Adam’s pattern that has two arrows pointing to it. We can fix this by removing the two red lines in the diagram.

causal diagram for a late doubleThis double changes Adam’s pattern. After throwing his right hand pass he has to wait an extra beat to catch Brenda’s pass and then throws one right hand self before making his next left hand pass. Note that the double is a right to right throw, so it’s a crossing pass. This is known as a late double pass. In three count you can throw a late double with either hand.

Some people think that in three count you always throw back the club that you receive. If you apply that approach when someone throws a late double pass then you will have a problem! If you are passing three count with someone and you want to throw a late double, but you’re not sure that they know how to react, you can throw two late doubles in a row. If they do the right thing, then the trick will work anyway, but here’s a diagram that shows how the pattern survives otherwise:
causal diagram for two late doublesAfter Brenda’s first late double, Adam mistakenly does two self throws. Brenda kindly throws a second late double, otherwise Adam wouldn’t be able to catch her pass. This causes a pause in Brenda’s pattern, but then the normal three count can continue. Having spotted Adam’s reaction to her late doubles, Brenda can then tell him how he should respond!

A self double

On a causal diagram, draw a line pointing from one beat to a throw two beats later in the same juggler’s pattern to show a self double throw.

causal diagram for a self doubleHaving added the line for the self double to the diagram, there’s a right hand beat in Adam’s pattern that has two arrows pointing away from it, and one that has two arrows pointing to it. We can fix this by removing the two red lines in the diagram.

causal diagram for a self doubleAfter a left hand pass Adam throws a right hand self double and then has a pause for one beat. He returns to normal three count with a right hand pass. Note that the self double is thrown and caught with the same hand. It’s like one throw out of a four club fountain. This throw is often referred to as a heff! In three count you can throw a self double with either hand.

Combination tricks

Here are the causal diagrams for a couple of combination tricks. If you’ve understood everything up to now, you should be able to work them out for yourself!

The first diagram shows Brenda throwing a late double followed by a heff (self double).

causal diagram for a late and a self doubleThe second diagram shows Brenda throwing a late double followed by an early double.

causal diagram for a late and an early doubleFour four one

What happens if Brenda wants to combine a heff with an early double?

causal diagram for 441Having added the heff and the early double to the causal diagram, and also removed the lines for the two single self throws, there’s a problem. There’s one left hand beat in Brenda’s pattern that has no arrow pointing to it, and one right hand beat that has no arrow pointing from it. We can fix this by drawing an arrow from the right hand beat to the left hand beat!

causal diagram for 441As this arrow points from right to left we have to draw the arrow head. An arrow pointing back one beat represents a zip or a hand-across. So this arrow shows Brenda handing a club from her right to her left hand. In order to receive this club in her left hand she has to throw the club that she’s already holding in that hand. So the right hand zip causes the left hand pass one beat earlier! Don’t worry if you don’t understand the last two sentences, all you need to know is that an arrow pointing one beat back is a zip.

The full combination trick for Brenda is: pass heff double zip self self. This is known as 441 in three count. Adam’s pattern is unchanged apart from having to catch a double.

It’s also possible to throw an early double followed by a heff to give another 441 trick.

causal diagram for 441

Four four four zero

What happens if Brenda tries to throw a heff before and after an early double?

causal diagram for 4440Having added the heffs and the early double to the causal diagram, and also removed the lines for the three single self throws, there’s a problem. There’s one left hand beat in Brenda’s pattern that has no arrow pointing to it, and another that has no arrow pointing from it. We can fix this by drawing an arrow from the second left hand beat to the first one!

causal diagram for 4440As this arrow points from right to left we have to draw the arrow head. An arrow pointing back two beats represents a gap or an empty hand. In reality the fact that Brenda threw a left hand pass on one beat causes her left hand to be empty two beats later. In causal diagram logic, the fact that she wanted an empty hand on one beat caused her to throw the pass two beats earlier!

The whole combination trick for Brenda is: pass heff double heff gap self. This is known as 4440 in three count. Adam’s pattern is unchanged apart from having to catch a double.

Simultaneous heffs

Earlier I described how to do a self double in three count. This trick is a variation on that. Instead of throwing one self double, throw two of them at the same time, one with each hand.

causal diagram for two self doublesI’ll be honest, I find it hard to explain how to derive the diagram for this trick! In this case I learned the trick first and then asked: ‘I wonder how to draw the causal diagram for that?’ However the diagram does explain the trick. Also if you accept that whenever you have a pattern with a hold in it, you can replace that with a heff and a gap, then this opens up many new possibilities!

A late single

This is an odd trick, which when you throw it for the first time, may cause your partner to drop if they haven’t seen it before!

causal diagram for a late singleOn a normal passing beat Brenda throws a heff instead of a pass, but then throws a pass on the next beat. This trick changes Adam’s pattern. For him it feels similar to receiving a late double, except he doesn’t have to catch a double pass. Adam gets a pause in his pattern, and then only throws one self before the next pass.

An early triple

For this trick Brenda throws a triple pass that lands in Adam’s pattern at the right time.

causal diagram for an early tripleFor Brenda the trick is: pass triple hold hold self self. Note that the triple is a right to left throw, so it’s a straight pass. Adam’s pattern is unchanged, except that he has to try and catch Brenda’s triple pass!

A late triple

For this trick Brenda throws a triple pass one beat later than an early triple.

causal diagram for a late tripleFor Brenda the trick is: pass self triple hold self self. Once again the triple is a straight pass. This trick changes Adam’s pattern. For him it feels similar to receiving a late double, except now he has to try and catch Brenda’s triple pass. Adam gets a pause in his pattern, and then only throws one self before the next pass.

A very late triple

Brenda can throw a triple on the pass beat.

causal diagram for a very late tripleApart from throwing a triple pass, Brenda’s pattern is unchanged by this trick. Adam just has to wait two beats and then throw his next pass in order to catch the triple. Note that the triple is a straight pass.

A self triple

This is another one of those tricks that may confuse your partner if they haven’t seen it before!

causal diagram for a self tripleFor Brenda the trick is: pass self triple-self pass zip self. The triple is a left to right throw so it’s a crossing self. Adam’s pattern is unchanged by this trick. However this triple is thrown at the same time as an early double pass. So if Adam hasn’t seen this trick before he might look up at the triple to see how he can catch it, and then completely miss the single pass that follows!

There are many combination tricks that you could try involving double and triple throws. I won’t spoil your fun by spelling them out for you.

 Jim’s three count

Jim’s three count is a variation on three count where one person always throws crossing passes. It’s very easy to draw a causal diagram for this pattern, you just take a causal diagram for three count and relabel some of the beats.

causal diagram for Jim's three countIn this diagram all of Adam’s passes are right to left or left to right throws, so they’re straight passes. However Brenda’s passes are right to right or left to left throws, so they’re crossing passes. Note that after his first pass, Adam’s first self is with the same hand. This is a hurry. The self throws after Adam’s third pass, and Brenda’s second and fourth passes are also hurries.

You can create lots of patterns by relabelling the beats on causal diagrams. Here’s another three count variation where both jugglers throw crossing passes.

causal diagram for crossing three countThis pattern is a bit collision prone because Adam throws a crossing right hand pass at the same time as Brenda throws a crossing left hand pass (and vice-versa). Note also that Brenda’s first left hand beat has no arrow pointing to it, but an arrow pointing away from it. This shows that she starts with two clubs in her left hand.

There is another way to draw a causal diagram for Jim’s three count.

causal diagram for Jim's three countIn this variation Brenda starts half a beat after Adam and both jugglers throw floaty single passes. This slows the whole pattern down and also eliminates the hurries. However it’s very hard to juggle Jim’s three count like this. You start the pattern with all the best intentions of staying half a beat out of phase, but very quickly you’ll find that you are throwing your passes simultaneously! One way to maintain the half beat difference is to flip the clubs that are shown as holds in the diagram.

animation for Jim's three countSeven club three count

You can pass seven clubs on three count with floaty double passes.

causal diagram for seven club three countIn this diagram Adam’s first right and left hand beats have no arrow pointing to them, but an arrow pointing away from them. This shows that he starts with two clubs in each hand. Brenda’s first right hand beat has no arrow pointing to it, but an arrow pointing away from it, so she starts with two clubs in her right hand. Remember causal diagrams already assume that she’s holding a club in her left hand. Note that there are four hands and three lines running through the pattern, which also confirms that this is a seven club pattern.

In this pattern Adam’s passes are right to left or left to right throws, so they’re straight passes, whereas Brenda’s are right to right or left to left, so they’re crossing passes. Brenda starts one and a half beats after Adam. Basically she waits as long as she can! Apart from that the pattern is three count with floaty double passes.

animation for seven club three countNaturally you can try any three count tricks in this pattern. The easiest is a self double.

You can’t throw an early double pass in this pattern, however you can do essentially the same thing, but with a triple pass. As Adam’s doubles are straight passes, his triples have to cross, whereas Brenda’s doubles cross, so her triples have to go straight.

French three count

Another easy trick in seven club three count is a late single pass.

causal diagram for a late single in seven club three countOn a pass beat Brenda throws a heff instead, and then throws a single pass on the next beat. In the seven club pattern this trick doesn’t change Adam’s pattern. Also note that Brenda’s single pass is straight, whereas if Adam does this trick his single pass would have to cross.

If both jugglers throw late single passes continuously, you get a pattern known as French three count.

causal diagram for French three countJust like seven club three count, Adam starts with two clubs in each hand and Brenda starts with two clubs in her right hand and one in her left hand. For Adam the pattern is: pass self heff with straight floaty single passes. Brenda starts half a beat later and for her the pattern is: heff pass self with crossing floaty single passes.

animation for French three countTechno (seven club three count on singles)

You can pass seven club three count on single passes.

causal diagram for technoOnce again Adam starts with two clubs in each hand and Brenda starts with two clubs in her right hand and one in her left hand. For both jugglers the pattern is: a right hand pass and a left hand self simultaneously, then a right hand self, then a left hand pass and a right hand self simultaneously, then a left hand self. All Adam’s passes are straight. Brenda starts one beat after Adam, and all her passes cross.

animation for technoScratch your head

Naturally you can also try any three count tricks in three count techno. The easiest is a self double.

causal diagram for a self double in technoOn a passing beat Adam throws a pass and a heff at the same time. Brenda’s pattern is unchanged by this trick.

If both jugglers throw self doubles continuously, you get a pattern known as scratch your head, which was created by Will Murray.

causal diagram for scratch your headOnce again Adam starts with two clubs in each hand and Brenda starts with two clubs in her right hand and one in her left hand. For both jugglers the pattern is: a right hand pass and a left hand heff simultaneously, then a left hand pass and a right hand heff simultaneously. All Adam’s passes are straight. Brenda starts one beat after Adam, and all her passes cross.

animation for scratch your headOddz godz

The next diagram shows Adam throwing an early double in three count techno.

causal diagram for an early dounle in technoAfter a left hand pass and a right hand self thrown simultaneously, Adam throws a left hand crossing double pass, and then a left hand self. Brenda’s pattern is unchanged by this trick, except she has to catch a double pass.

If both jugglers throw early doubles continuously in three count techno, you get a pattern known as oddz godz.

causal diagram for oddz godzIn this pattern Adam’s first two throws are right handed. In the diagram the beats for these throws have no arrow pointing to them, but an arrow pointing away from them. This shows that he starts with two extra clubs in his right hand. So he has three clubs in his right hand. Brenda’s first right hand beat has no arrow pointing to it, but an arrow pointing away from it, so she starts with two clubs in her right hand. Remember causal diagrams assume that both jugglers start with one club in their left hand.

In this pattern Adam’s passes are right to right or left to left throws, so they’re crossing passes, whereas Brenda’s are right to left or left to right, so they’re straight passes. Brenda starts one beat after Adam. Both jugglers do a two count pattern with double passes and hurried self throws.

animation for oddz godzNote that you can derive this pattern by relabelling the beats in the causal diagram for seven club two count!

causal diagram for seven club two count

 


* Animated gifs were created using JoePass. Here are the pattern files in zip format.

 

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