Passing siteswaps with five clubs


Passing Siteswaps with five clubs

Hi – my name is Brook and I’m a passing addict.  I’m going to be writing a series of articles with passing ideas to try – generally geared towards things I like doing.  I’ll try and keep a balance between more accessible and more challenging in terms of juggling difficulty, although they may all be nerdy!

One of my favourite types of passing is learning siteswaps – but unfortunately people who like doing these mostly know patterns that are only suitable for comfortable 7 club passers.  I’m going to show you that there are interesting patterns you can teach to newer jugglers – using only 5 clubs, with only single passes, zips, selves and heffs.  It’s also a good way to start learning how to throw heffs (what passers call a 4 in siteswap) since in many of the patterns that will be the hardest part, and a good way to get used to learning siteswaps.

And if you’re teaching and get bored, then I’ll show you how to make one side more difficult to keep it interesting for both sides.

In all of these patterns (except the one right handed pattern), one person will do crossing single passes, and the other straight single passes. These will be high and gently spun, similar to 7 club one-count (in prechac, a 3.5p).  In a previous article Aidan gave a bit of an introduction to four handed siteswap – see here for some more information.  For an introduction to all types of notation and patterns, see the Highgate collection here.

Prerequisites: Have passed an ambidextrous pattern before, and for all the patterns except the first and last you will need to be able to throw a heff (straight self double).

There are two patterns that tend to get taught to beginner passers – Parsnip and Whynot.


Parsnip is ‘pass pass zip pass zip’  (four-handed siteswap 77722).  Keep the passes floaty and slow.  Five club one-count may be a good warm up for this.

A(ndi) starts with three clubs, and starts pass pass zip, with straight passes. B(ettina) starts half a beat later with two clubs, starting midway through the pattern with pass zip, on crossing passes.


If B is a more experienced passer, then they can add a club and instead do Funky Bookends (pass heff pass pass self), and A can continue doing Parsnip as before.  B again responds half a beat after A, and starts pass heff, but this time B starts with three clubs, with two in the right hand.

5 club Whynot and Notwhy

5 club Whynot is the siteswap 78622 – locally the jugglers do ‘pass self zip heff zip.’  As in most 4 handed siteswaps, the heff (the 4) will be easiest on a double spin.  It’s good to think of the ‘heff zip’ as a pair of throws, which you throw in order to catch the incoming pass.  Again, B will start half a beat after A.

5 club whynot

Traditionally, it seemed that this and parsnip were the token two five club patterns that were taught to beginners.  But there is a lot more you can do!

If you are comfortable with five club Whynot – why not try Notwhy?  Five club Notwhy is an anagram of Whynot – the siteswap 78622 becomes 86722.  Locally it’s ‘pass zip self zip heff.’ In this pattern, A has a weird start – she starts with two clubs in the left hand, but throws the first throw with the right hand. B waits a beat and a half before starting with a heff.  It’s a bit more interesting than Whynot!


Transitions between Whynot and Notwhy

There are a few ways you can make these more interesting.  You can switch between Whynot and Notwhy mid pattern – you don’t need to tell your partner when and they shouldn’t notice any difference if you manage it!

To switch from Whynot to Notwhy:

Whynot is ‘pass self zip heff zip.’  When you want to switch, instead of doing ‘self zip’ you can do either ‘heff zip zip’ or ‘self zip hold.’  You’ll now have your partner’s pass coming in, and can go straight into Notwhy, doing ‘heff pass zip self zip.’  Both of these transitions are a little bit unexciting – to make them more interesting, you can do one of the zips in the first transition behind the back, or you could change the hold to a flip.

To switch from Notwhy to Whynot:

Notwhy is ‘pass zip self zip heff.’  Whenever you want to change to Whynot, simply change the heff to a self, and then go straight into Whynot – ‘pass self zip heff zip.’

If juggler B wants to add a club on their side, then they can upgrade to a seven club pattern. You can do both of these patterns against either French five-count (pass self self heff heff) or five-count popcorn (pass self self trelf self).

Now that you’ve learnt some five club siteswaps, you’re probably thinking that period five patterns are a bit short.  And you’d be right!  So lets take a look at a few longer period siteswaps – part of the fun (I’ve been informed that describing this as fun may not be universal) here is convincing your brain to do the right thing.


Whynotwhy is like the previous two smooshed together.  The siteswap is 7822682 – ‘pass zip self zip heff zip heff.’  It will be easier to remember if you think of it in groups – ‘pass zip’ ‘self zip’ ‘heff zip heff.’  Again, you do the ‘heff zip’ in order to catch your partner’s pass, so you can watch them at this point to get the timing right.  Doing the ‘heff zip’ just in time in order to catch their club will slow the pattern down and make it easier – when you are doing the ‘self zip’ you can watch your partner to slow down/speed up as appropriate.  The same club is always passed – in the video we’ve used a white club for the pass.


Or alternatively you could make it right handed (or left handed!) – by doing 3p 1 3 1 4 1 3 4 (prechac).  These passes need to be quite a lot zippier than the lofty singles you do for a 3.5p – as a result the timing of this pattern is actually quite awkward.  I tend to find myself doing the passes after my pass quite slowly, and then the passes once my partner passes back to me faster.  Definitely make an effort to throw your pass early and snappy.

A starts with the single pass – B starts at the same time half way throught the pattern, starting with 4 1 3 4 (heff zip self heff).

One-sided whynotwhy

If one of the passers is stronger, they can upgrade to seven count popcorn (7868686) – locally ‘pass self self self heff heff heff.’  To make it more challenging – try replacing the three heffs with a round of 534.  Or a bit harder, the 3 throws of 3 clubs with 531.  Or much harder – do both, and do ‘pass 531 534!’  The basic 7 count popcorn, and then with both 531 and 534, are shown below.

Pass pass zip self zip pass zip self self

My final pattern is actually one of the easier ones – don’t be put off by its long period!  It’s nine beats long, with siteswap 777226662, giving ‘pass pass zip self zip’ ‘pass zip self self.’  It flows quite naturally – honest!  I and people I have taught this to have actually often found this easier to remember than Whynotwhy.

The start is the same as for parsnip – A does straight passes and starts with ‘pass pass zip’ – B starts half a beat later with crossing passes and ‘pass zip.’


One side can upgrade to doing the 9 beat pattern PPSSSPHHH. As before – you can try changing the selves to 531, or the heffs to 534 for a more challenging pattern.  Again, the 534 seems a bit more natural than the 531 to me, and doing both is reasonably tricky.

You should now see that being unable to pass 7 clubs comfortably shouldn’t be a bar to getting started learning siteswaps – so if you’re teaching someone who hasn’t done many/any passing siteswaps before, why not teach them some of these first?

Brook has been juggling far too much since 2006, and likes siteswaps, passing, and unnecessarily complicated patterns.

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