Entries Tagged 'Technique' ↓

3 Diabolo High Notes

The Diabolo from A to Z:
“French and English missionaries and political envoys brought these strange objects back to Europe, named by an unknown erudite “Diaballo” (later diabolo) from the Greek roots “dia” meaning across, and “ballo” meaning throw.”

The name itself says exactly what the diabolo is about — at least in high patterns — to throw across. That was the original intention of the diabolo. It’s the first trick most people learn. The simple throw of a single diabolo. For a high pattern, it’s essential that you can make a controlled throw at any height.

Basic Training
This is the most important basic training exercise to warm up any high session and calibrate your throws: Start from a normal stance and body position, diabolo spinning on the string, and throw it in a controlled circle at a low height, just above the chest. Catch the diabolo, moving your feet, upper body, and arms as little as possible. Throw again. Repeat the throws perfectly for perhaps 10 times in a row and then move to progressively higher heights (2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 diabolo siteswap height).

Now Spin!
Now the second exercise, pirouettes. I’m not going to discuss pirouette technique. I will assume you have done some research into the subject and are able to execute a single, double and maybe even triple pirouette suitable for any kind of juggling. It’s the most logical thing to do under a throw of a diabolo, so it’s an excellent exercise to expand your high diabolo vocabulary. Throw a single diabolo, spot the diabolo, perform a pirouette (or more) and stop spinning, catch the diabolo. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

And the Start…
For the third exercise: simple hand throws. Your preferred method will do but don’t be scared to try out others from time to time, just for your own good. Hand throw a diabolo and catch it effortlessly in the string. You need to be able to do this perfectly to start 2, 3, or 4 high. Throws should be built up to at least 4 high height and done with setups for several numbers (1, 2, 3, 4 diabolos).

Putting it Together
These 3 exercises are, in my opinion, the very basis of high diabolo practice. But, you can warm up and practice basic stuff all you want — you still have to do it. Perhaps you are working towards 3 diabolos high. What must actually happen to make it work?

  • It usually starts with 2 throws by hand with a 3rd diabolo spinning in the string. Of course you could start any other way you like, but this is just the most basic one.
  • Spot and step under the pattern.
  • Throw the first diabolo out of the string and into the pattern.
  • Then throw the next perfectly, and the next perfectly, and so on.
  • You can apply this method to any trick – you must first understand how it should work.

    At all stages it helps to analyze what you are doing consistently wrong. Work on these aspects separately or with fewer complications and then try again.

    On Throwing and Catching
    These need to be as consistent as possible: in the correct plane, in the correct direction, with the correct rhythm, and with the correct height. If the throws are perfect, there is no energy or time lost in unnecessary actions such as walking or running for diabolos.

    These notes form the basis of high diabolo training. There are an infinite number of variations, patterns, and other ways to manipulate high diabolos. However, you can always come back to the basics for steady technique development and apply these techniques to the training of more complicated variations.


    Discuss this article.

    Backhands, rim throws, and 5 years of futility

    About 5 years later I still can’t throw 2 diabolos up in the air consistently with a right backhand throw to start 3 diabolos high. It’s certainly not from a lack of practice. Sometimes it’s fine, but often 1 comes off my fingers a bit differently, often sticking a bit, and goes flying far one way or the other.

    Practicing with Arjan who uses the same throw start I noticed that the same thing happens to him sometimes – not nearly as often and mostly with 4d – but it’s still not 100% reliable and we’ve both put in an insane amount of time over the years.

    Then I got thinking: the 2 people that seem to have gotten the most reliable 4d start in the least amount of time seem to be Jacob and a French guy, who seems to revel in anonymity, who are both using a rim hold start. Tony used a rim start when he was working at 4 for a while too. This seems to be followed closely by (or exactly the same as) the under the diabolo toss (JiBe style). A number of people have learned 4d high reasonably quickly like that. Yes, I’m looking at you Israeli kids and teenagers! This technique has the obvious advantage of starting the diabolos in the proper trajectory and making collisions easier to avoid at the expense of a reduction in initial spin.

    Now as far as I can tell, the people using a dominant backhand start (or even non-dominant backhand start like Ryo) have put in a disproportionate amount of practice time compared to their success. I’m thinking of Ryo, Priam, and Arjan here, who have all put in incredible amounts of practice time (heck, they’re all full-time-diaboloists) and yet have learned 4d at what I would consider a more “reasonable” worldly pace.

    So, after 5 years of frustrating lack of consistency with my start I finally decided to seriously try some other starts. Within about 20 minutes my rim cup throw start (dominant hand) had surpassed my backhand start in terms of reliability. It’s easy to throw diabolos straight and consistently that way.

    I’m starting to think that the backhand throw start is simply a (slightly) inferior technique. I don’t mean it’s not possible, but that it’s slightly slower to execute, slightly more finicky about technique, and takes longer to perfect. Mostly it just takes longer to wrap your hand consistently around an axle then it does to grab a rim or stick your hand under a diabolo. Not a huge deal with 3, but when people’s limits get pushed with 4, it shows… and my limits seem to be pushed at 3 with this start.

    The one thing that’s always held me back from the rim throw start is that I find it really hard to throw a consistently flat and straight diabolo that way. Although I can make a perfect lowish throw by holding the rim, my high throws are always super wobbly.

    This brings me to my main question directed at those of you who have perfected this technique: How exactly do you hold the diabolo, how do you release it, and what are you thinking about when you do this? Photos anyone?

    I suppose a second question would be: Have any of you noticed anything similar with the various throw starts, their ease, their consistency, and their rapidness of learning?


    Discuss this article

    Edit – as Crackers suggested, here are some photos to clarify the starts I am discussing:

    In order: Rim throw, Backhand throw, Under the diabolo/underhand throw.

    Rim throw

    Backhand throw

    Underhand throw