Three clubs are juggled in just the same way as three balls - a cascade with left and right hands throwing alternately. Clubs are usually spun once as they are thrown, the most natural way to spin a club for most people, and the one that I recommend you learn first, is as shown:
The body of the club goes up first, followed by the handle. Try this a few times, just throw the club up and catch it in the same hand, do this with both hands until it feels comfortable.
When throwing a club use your arm to give it height, and your wrist to impart spin. Some people throw clubs using only an arm action, which is tiring, clumsy looking and inaccurate; others use only a flick of the wrist, which doesn't give enough height and makes the spin hard to control.
When starting to learn clubs some people find it easiest to throw and catch the clubs in the centre, or near to the top of the handle. By all means use this method if it works, but once you can cascade 3 quite well you may want to start holding them lower down the handle, near to the rubber knob. This grip makes it easier to judge multiple spins and facilitates many of the other tricks that follow, as well as looking and feeling better than the other method.
In a cascade the clubs travel across the body from hand to hand. For reasons of aesthetics, as well as to help avoid collisions, it is important to angle the clubs into the throw before you release them:
The club will still be pointing in the same direction when you catch it in the other hand, and so to prepare it for the next throw you must turn it through about 90 degrees, so that it faces back toward the other hand. This is most easily done by 'scooping' the club in an arc towards the centre:
Try to make this a fluid movement, the throws should blend in with the scoops so that the club moves smoothly the whole time. A commonly made mistake, especially when trying to cascade all 3 clubs, is to catch the club and then 'freeze' it until it is time to throw back again, this results in a rushed and jerky pattern which is hard to sustain.
Hand position is another important factor when making a throw, keep your palms facing upwards - don't release the club with your thumb on top and your palm turned inwards, this will only cause you problems later on.
I should say at this point that while it is important to be aware of what 'good' juggling looks like, you shouldn't worry too much about making each throw perfect, at least while you are still in the learning stages. You will certainly benefit from practising correct throwing action, and eventually it will become habit, but when you first start working with 2 or 3 clubs you will require all your concentration just to keep the pattern going and get the spins right - trying to think about scooping the clubs and so on will probably just confuse things. Learn the basics first, then polish up your technique later. In general if what you are doing feels natural then it is probably OK.
Once you can relax and comfortably throw from hand to hand as described, go and get a second club. Just as when you were learning to juggle balls, the next stage to master is the exchange with 2. Take a club in each hand and throw one of them over to the opposite side of your body, remembering to angle it into the throw as described above. When it reaches the top of its arc release the second club, sending it back to the hand that threw the first one, the clubs should have swapped hands. The paths of the clubs should form an X shape in front of you:
Practice the exchange starting with the right hand and with the left as well. Once you can swap 2 round reasonably well, say 2 out of 3 times, with both hands, it's time to get the third club.
A problem that will become apparent as soon as you pick up the third club is how to hold them in such a way as to allow you to make the first throw without any complications arising. Obviously you must hold 2 of the clubs in 1 hand to begin with, and when releasing the first club you must hold onto the other one. There are 2 commonly used grips, shown below, some people prefer one and some the other, so try them both and make up your own mind:
As stated earlier, clubs should be thrown using a combination of arm and wrist movement. For the first throw however this method can result in the handles of the 2 clubs in the starting hand banging together or becoming interlocked. To overcome this problem you can try using a large, swinging arm motion with no flexing at the wrist to launch the club. Remember to revert to your usual throwing style once you have got started.
Practice this throw a few times until you find the way that feels right, then get ready to try your first 3 club juggle!
It is easy to be intimidated when trying 3 clubs for the first time, as well as the inevitability of many drops there is also the worry of hitting yourself with a clumsy throw, or damaging the furniture, breaking a window, or knocking over someone's pint. Although clubs are a good deal heavier than beanbags they aren't as dangerous as they seem - I've never heard of anyone suffering anything worse than a small bruise here and there.
Each time you pick up your clubs after a drop try to remember what it was that went wrong: Did 2 clubs collide? Did you just miss the catch? Which hand missed? Is one hand over/under spinning? It is surprisingly easy to make the same mistake over and over again, and not see what it is until it is pointed out to you by someone else. Self analysis of this sort may seem tiresome at first, but it becomes more habitual in time, and will help you with every new trick that you learn.
The following hints may also help:
- Take a moment to relax your body, and in particular your shoulders, each time you start again after a drop.
- Hold the clubs very loosely in your hands as you juggle, don't grip onto them.
- Watch the clubs as they peak, don't look down at your hands. Try to see the whole pattern at once rather than focusing on individual clubs.
- Try to keep your hands below chest height when you juggle, if you find you have to reach upwards a lot to make catches it usually means that you are over-spinning your throws.
- If the jump from 2 to 3 clubs seems too big you could try juggling 2 clubs and 1 ball for a while before adding the third club.
- Keep your upper arms close to your body, this helps to keep the pattern tight and controlled. Attempting to juggle at arms length in order to avoid hitting yourself in the face is always counter-productive.