My Passing Patterns v.1.1 (19/6/6)
Warning: the current version of this document will not be very accessible if you don't already know quite a bit about passing clubs and terminology! Hopefully I can remedy this in future versions.
Learning to pass clubs in Bristol, I was brought up passing with both hands. I found that the patterns I enjoyed the most were the ones where you really had to think about what you were supposed to be doing, where the challenge was equal parts mental and physical - if not predominantly mental. Over time, I came up with two passing pattern templates that matched my tastes.
The standard Feast is a common passing pattern for large numbers of jugglers. Everyone stands in a circle, decides on a count (four-count being the simplest), and then passes to each person in the circle in turn. This leads to a few different varieties, such as exactly where everyone starts passing to, whether or not you 'pass to yourself', whether you go around clockwise as seen from above or as seen from below, and which count you use.
A Hand Feast is a very simple generalisation of this idea - well, simple in concept, but complicated in practice. Rather than passing to each person in turn, you pass to each hand in turn. So first you might throw your pass to the person-opposite-you's right hand, then their left hand, then the next person along's right hand, and so on. The reason this gets complicated is that almost inevitably you will end up receiving clubs in the 'wrong' hand. You get round this by doing a 'hurry' - quickly throwing the offending club wherever it needs to go in order to catch the incoming one. Fortunately these can be quite intuitive once you get used to the idea so the whole thing isn't completely impossible.
You can then apply all of the different variations that you can do with the regular Feast, and you can even try it with just two people.
Mention of a two-person two-count hand feast can be found on the page of the
Tunbridge Wells Juggling Club.
To make a passing pattern work, everyone taking part needs to know when to pass and when to self and where to aim the passes. (Well, freestyle passing can be fun too, but doesn't work as well). I reasoned that you just needed some verbal code that could be translated into a sequence of passes and selfs, and that way you could slip into any kind of pattern without agreeing on it explicitly before you start.
Based on this idea, I came up with the 'Word Game'. It revolves around translating letters of words to passing information. After quite a bit of playtesting (thanks to Tarim, Ross, Nick and Mandy), these are the rules that were found to be most fun:
-Consonants are passes
-Vowels are selfs
-Double letters are interpreted as a single throw at double the height - so 'ee' would mean a double self, whereas 'tt' would require a double pass.
-W is a 'double U', hence a double-height self.
-X, Y and Z are cross-passes - throw to the opposite hand to normal. This means you will need to do a 'hurry' to receive the incoming club.
-Spaces between words are ignored. In the case where one words ends with the same letter the following words starts with, you will thus need to do a double.
For example, the phrase "One Egg" would become "Self, pass, double self, double pass."
The only thing left is a protocol to determine when you start passing the word and what you do at the end. The best way seemed to be that from a stable 3-count (or 4-count I guess) one person says the word on a pass, and you start passing the word when you reach the next pass in your 3-count. In the example above, someone might say "One Egg" on a pass, you would then both do the two selfs of the three-count, and then do "Self, pass, double self, double pass."
If you can find a way to apportion blame for when a pattern collapses, you can then turn this into some kind of competitive game. Using the structure of tennis works quite well - you 'serve' by announcing the word, and score a point when the pattern collapses and it wasn't your fault. But it was generally more fun just to try passing words.
One simple challenge is to try to pass the alphabet. An endless challenge is to pass the integers starting at zero - "zero one two three..." which would translate as "Cross, self, pass, double self, pass, self, pass, double self, self, pass, pass, pass, double self...". I think Ross and I reached the mid-twenties once.
Of course, there's also a lot of scope for new rules (including rules about making up new rules). You could have rules determining who gets to say the next word, or certain letters mean the word has to be spelt backwards, or make it a game of word-association. But generally we found the above were sufficient for it to be a fun challenge.
You can also play the word game with any number of people by passing clubs
in a star formation, or even in a feast, or even - you guessed it - a Hand Feast!