A Brief History of the Pocket Pole Prop

The prop that I call the pocket pole is a pole that is balanced on the juggler’s forehead that has billiard style pockets / nets or cups in various locations up the pole. The juggler juggles balls and tosses them up to catch in the various pockets. The earliest reference I can find to the pocket pole prop is its inclusion in the 1911 book Juggling Secrets by Will Goldston. You can see an illustration of it below, taken from the book.

The earliest performer that I can find doing it was George Hurd. George was a popular and talented juggler in the 1920s and 1930s.

George Hurd

The next juggler I’m aware of who performed with the prop was the Spanish juggler Rostando (José Perez), who had formerly performed as part of the Perezoff’s, the famed restaurant jugglers.

Rostando

Certainly the most famous use of this prop is by Anthony Gatto.

Anthony Gatto

You can see him performing with it in the middle of the following video.

Anthony worked with the pocket pole from a very young age. The following video shows him performing with it at the age of 9.

Matthew Tiffany currently performs with the prop, which you can see just past halfway in the following video.

Earl Shatford has recently begun working on the pocket pole routine. You can see practice video of him doing it in the middle of this brief video.

It is also being done currently by Maximiliano Fusco, who ends the trick with a novel multiplex throw. You can see this below.

Variations of this prop and routine have been done with both rings and clubs. The first Anthony Gatto video above included a ring version. You can see Earl Shatford do a very nice ring version in the following video.

Willy Columbaioni performs a club version using funnels to catch five clubs. You can see this below.

Joe Showers currently does a routine that features spitting ping pong balls into a pocket pole.

Joe Showers

If you’re looking for a challenge, this prop might be something to try, as it’s easy to make by simply attaching plastic cups to the sides and top of a pole. If you want to be creative, see what new variations can be done with this idea.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of sixteen books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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