So juggling is pretty hard.
At least, for me it is.
So once we get to three balls there’s just a natural question, right?
It’s like to be four, to be five.
What’s the limit?
This guy definitely knows.
Hi! I’m Alex Barron and I hold the world record
for most balls juggle.
And I also hold the world record for something called most balls flashed.
And that’s 14.
That’s right. Alex has flashed 14 balls.
Flash just means throwing a certain number of balls in the air
and catching that many balls in sequence one time.
Here he is flashing 13 balls.
But is 14 balls the limit?
Today we’re gonna look at why juggling 15 balls might be almost impossible.
To learn what it takes, I got a lesson from Barren.
Talk with a juggling pro about the patterns and science
that make it possible to keep so many balls up in the air,
and with someone who doesn’t even have to see the balls to juggle.
People have been juggling for millennia.
This Egyptian painting of women juggling is nearly 4,000 years old.
And it’s always seemed like a bit of magic,
even three ball juggling is mesmerizing to watch.
But performers have always been pushing the limit for higher numbers.
Back in the 1920s, famed juggler Enrico Rastelli was said to have juggled ten balls.
And for a while, that seemed like the upper limit for continuous juggling.
People could match it but nobody can really exceed it.
That was until 2012 when Barron managed this astounding feat.
11 balls for 23 catches.
I bloody did it.
23 on camera, I think.
我感觉很棒 是的 拿到世界纪录的时候很开心
It feels, it feels good, yeah, like I was very happy when I got the world records.
I mean I wouldn’t have spent so many hours doing it, if I didn’t care about it.
Barron started juggling as a kid.
You know, determined to be like one of the youngest people to do 11
like for a flash you know,
开始你会说 “噢” “对” “我会耍5个球了”
first you’re like “Oh”, like “yeah”, like “I’ve learned five”
and like you can hear people talking on the internet about how…
耍5个球有多难 “啊 我 我就要做到了”
how hard five is, you know, like “Ah, I’m gonna like, I’m gonna be able to do five.”
And then it just kind of keeps going from there.
So I don’t think I’ll ever have the time
or maybe more likely the patience
to ever become a serious numbers juggler.
But I can already do three.
So Barron gave me some lessons on how I could do five.
So if I want to graduate from three balls to five balls,
you’re talking about some of the things I need to work on are my actual hand speed.
-Yep.-And how high I’m throwing the balls,
because it’s the time in between the throws, right?
Exactly, yeah, you’ll have to go higher and faster.
Okay, so show me how that work.
Yeah, yeah, how that work.
Yeah, so if five, I’m gonna end up throwing them
about eye level or a little bit higher as it supposed to lower with three.
But otherwise it’s the same,
really, the motion is very similar.
You just have to be a little bit more fluid.
And yeah, move your hands a bit faster.
The hardest bit is to start, because that’s when you go all the weight in your hands.
-Right.-So to begin with, yeah, I just try.
Don’t even worry about catching them, just go one, two, three, four, five.
And then just like…
Here we go. I’m just gonna do one two three four five,
see if I can just get them all up in the air.
Or if I can throw the last ball before
the first one comes down, right?
-That’s right. Yeah. Exactly.-Yeah.
Go! One two three four five.
-Even faster would be better.-That’s pretty good, yeah.
If it goes really well what you want to see is two little piles, one for each hand.
-I mean you can fall.-Oh man! Alright.
But you can try and catch them, that’s just to get the speed.
I want to see that in speed again, so we got one two three four five.
是的 非常不错 现在试着抓住它们
Yeah, it’s pretty good. And now trying to catch them.
-And I’ve got five piles.-Yeah. Hahaha.
I managed to pull off a lucky flash when the cameras weren’t rolling.
And I’m still working on doing it continuously.
Like really working on it.
These days five is just a warm-up for Baron.
He can do seven without much trouble
and makes it look effortless.
But when he starts going for big numbers
比如9个 10个 11个 直到14个
like nine, ten, eleven, all the way up to fourteen.
He usually heads indoors to a squash court.
-We’re outside right now. -Yes.
现在有点风 你去壁球场练习 也是因为风吧？
It’s a little windy. That has something to do with why you practice in squash courts.
Yes, well, wind obviously is gonna mess up your pattern of a little bit.
You want the balls to have a very consistent trajectory every single time you try.
And the squash courts have really good contrast too,
because it’s basically a white background so typically it’s much easier to see.
And even though you’re not looking at one ball in particular,
your subconscious is still taking in
where they all are in the sky and where they’re coming down, so…
Keeping an eye on the balls at the top of their arc
or apex is critical for Barron’s big numbers.
You look vaguely at the apex of the pattern,
and then from that you have some sense of
球的轨迹是怎样的 它是否是倾斜的 不够笔直的
what the pattern looks like, whether it’s slanted, off-kilter.
There’s not like me, registering each throw and going on that was a good one that was a bad one.
I guess I do think that was a bad one.
If I do a bad throw I typically notice that ball in particular.
But that’s not the only way to juggle a lot of balls.
My name is Zach McAllister.
I hold three different records for BBB,
which stands for blind behind the back juggling.
我有背后杂耍5个 6个 7个球的记录
I hold the record for doing it five six and seven.
McCallister doesn’t have to look at the balls at all.
He feels for their apex.
I’ll start with them behind the back and I’ll make my first throw.
And once the throw is made, then I wait to feel it hit my elbow.
And once I feel that then I know it’s ready for the next ball,
usually in my head, I will feel out to be like,
“Okay, at this point, when I feel this,
I need to make this next throw.”
Once I feel it coming down to my wrists,
then I know that I need to open up my hand and have it ready.
So that way it can make the catch.
It is crazy impressive,
but McAllister thinks he’s at the numbers limit for blind behind the back.
As you increase each ball, you start to realize I’m running out of space on my back.
And four balls isn’t too bad,
but once you hit five balls, then you’re starting to realize like,
I need to either like start making my throws a little higher than my elbow,
which is not ideal because then it’s even more blind,
and I have to think about it even more
which takes up to like seven so you just have to hope that they all work out.
Traditional numbers jugglers don’t have that kind of limit.
In fact the sky is literally their limit,
but it seems like there are physical barriers to getting more balls in the air.
Let’s talk about 15 for a second for example just for that.
For the flash, I do think there’s a physiological barrier there
where someone will have to train very very specifically for flashing that number.
Doing 15 is gonna require a level of strength,
which is considerably beyond what I have in the moment.
To learn more I talked with Jack Calvin.
He’s a professional juggler and former engineer.
And he’s writing a book on human performance and juggling.
Calvin has been measuring juggling hand speed
with an accelerometer in a smartphone app,
So naturally we asked Alex Barron to try it out,
Juggle three balls and it’s comfortable. That’s kate pattern.
First Calvin had him juggle progressively higher numbers of balls.
So you want to try it a run of nine?
And then he had him try an absurdly fast origo.
Perhaps not surprisingly,
Barron topped Calvin’s charts.
…balls, according to his maximum hand speed when he shook his hand as fast as he could.
It was equivalent to juggling
23 to 25 balls.
So he’s actually nowhere near his limit according to his hand speed.
But according to Calvin speed is not the only limit when it comes to numbers juggling.
Basically what it found is that hand speed is not the main limiting factor of of juggling.
it’s actually the accuracy.
There’s a few different degrees of accuracy,
but the first degree would be able to throw something up so that it lands within reach.
The other is… uh… is
the space that you have in the air and having to avoid collisions between objects.
Of course I wanted to find out how I stack up,
so I strapped on the accelerometer.
There you go.
You have three ball data here.
-Okay, I’ll do two in one hand?-Yeah.
-So, there is a coins it is. Alright you can do the cons.
-Yeah.-Is that right?
-对 对 很好
-Yeah, yeah. it’s ok.
Put the balls down and shake your hand as fast as you can.
快一点 加油 再快一点 你还可以更快
Faster! Come on! Faster! You can go faster than that.
-Is that how you got? Come on!-That’s all I got.
Ok, that’s it.
And according to Calvin’s calculations,
your maximum amount was 14.1 balls.
Sweet! So… so if I practice really diligently
I could maybe flash the 14 then.
You could. You have the hand speed to flash 14 balls just like Alex.
-But er… you probably don’t have the accuracy.-Incredible incredible accuracy.
So I’m still working on five.
但知道如果继续练习 以我的手速 就能扔更多了 太好了
But it’s nice to know that I have the hand speed to do more than that if I keep practicing.
In fact, according to Jack’s research,
most people probably have the hand speed to do as many as mine.
I am actually a professional.
So hand speed is definitely a factor to consider here,
but here’s another big one:
how do you even hold this many balls?
Jugglers call it the grip.
所以是的 就握法来说 我们开始时很简单 每只手握一个球
So yeah, in terms of the grip, we start off just a very simple one in each hand.
We move to two, you end up with a little line,
this one further out goes first.
Three is a little triangle, I like to release this one first.
Four, so some people stack it on top which maybe
which maybe you do for lower numbers but we’re gonna go high,
so we can’t do that quite yet.
You’re end up this little diamond.
Five, I like this kind of trapezium shape.
一只手握6个球时 手上就是两边各3个球 很丑
Six in one hand, suddenly you get this pretty ugly two lines of three deal.
这个球 你可以看到 被压得相当扁了
This one, as you can see, is pretty compressed.
This is probably the worst one to release.
If you get up to 14,
then you just shove the last two on top.
Really anytime you can shove the last two on top,
but with 14 we’re forced to go like this.
I do these little setup throws to try and get them in the right position.
巴伦个子很高 超过6英尺 手掌很大
Baron is a pretty tall guy. He’s over six feet tall and he’s got big hands.
But what about the rest of us? [Music]
I’m missing a ball.
Don’t feel it fits me. Hands aren’t available for this.
Okay so not all of us are up for massive numbers juggling.
But there are other ways to impress mathematically, of course.
There’s the beauty of something called sideswap.
So sideswap is a way of notating juggling patterns.
So you can throw balls at different heights when you juggle.
And the way jugglers typically denote those different heights,
is they do it based on how high you’d have to throw, to juggle a certain number of balls.
So for three balls I can do it like really low, like this, right?
If I pick up five balls,
just cause there’re more balls,
I’ve got to throw it higher to do the same thing.
So what sideswaps lets you do is combine throws from different numbers of balls.
And you just call those throws the number of balls.
So, a simple one for example, with four balls,
would be something called five three four.
And so if I was just doing four, right?
They all go the same height.
So this is lots of fours over and over again.
What I can do is I can throw one ball higher,
to be a five and then one below to be a three and then go back to four.
so that’s like five three four.
You can see there’s a five ball throw, a three ball throw.
And then you can either do five three continuously,
or you can mix it up.
And yeah what’s fun about that is now
可以说 “嘿 我发现了一个杂耍的新模式”
if you want to tell your friend, “Hey, I found this great new juggling pattern.”
you just give them a list of numbers.
And then they can do it, well, they can try and learn it at least.
Sideswap can even be a way to practice juggling greater numbers, according to Kelvin.
Sideswap is a way that you can that some people
practice higher numbers using a lower number of balls.
In this pattern, you’re actually throw… one hand is doing the work of five balls,
one hand is… is… is doing exactly
is doing half of a five ball pattern,
and the other hand is doing a one ball pattern.
which is… which is that.
这个方法很有用 因为练习多球杂耍很累 也很锻炼人
That’s useful, because practicing big numbers can be a serious work out.
The raw physical act of it like the speed
at which you have to move your hands
the amount of weight that you have in your hands at the beginning
is on a different level.
People tend to see in the juggling world going from an even number to an odd number
as being substantially harder than going from an odd number to an even number.
With even numbers you can throw them in pairs,
which means you can get your whole body involved.
But with fifteen you’d have to do it asynchronously.
The biggest question mark for me is probably
whether someone has the physical ability
to practice 15 enough to be be able to do it,
or have enough attempts to be lucky enough to catch 15 balls
because of course there’s like luck involved.
Between the practice needed to perfect technique,
and the strength and speed required to keep the balls in the air,
Barron thinks his record will stand.
But he’s eager to see it challenged.
Yeah, like do I think someone will ever do 15 for a flash?
I like to think someone will do a 15.
I mean I… you know, you compare this to like 100-meter sprint
or marathon or something where countless people have
optimized themselves as hard as they can and trained for it.
I think there’s… there’s more to go in juggling for sure.
I don’t know what… if that’s within my personal limit
but I’ll attempt to find out over the next ten years or so.
除此之外 我觉得 是的 我认为在一些方面确实有身体上的局限
Beyond that, I mean, yes, I think there is a physical limit at some point, right?
至于我 我很难想象自己能耍16或17个球 或者快速杂耍16或者17个球
And for me it’s hard to conceive of juggling 16 or 17 or flashing 16 or 17 balls.
Maybe I should say that 15 is impossible,
and then some guy will come up and will be like, or some girl will be like,
说“才不是” “去你的吧” “我会做到的”
“No”, like “Screw you.” like “I’m gonna do it.”
So I’ve been practicing a few minutes every day
and every once in a while I will get lucky and flash five.
And I finally managed to do it on camera.
Oh sure there’s hope!
But it’s not like I’m ever gonna challenge somebody like Barron,
And that’s totally fine, because what he’s doing is already almost impossible.