Mills Mess

Other Tutorials:

TonySteinbach (video)

    Established by well-known juggler Steven Mills, Mills Mess is one of the most famous 3-ball tricks. It involves a side-to-side movement of the props, with each one thrown over the other in a never ending flow. Despite the much higher complexity of the trick, Mills Mess has the same siteswap as a basic Cascade, with the crossing motion of your arms creating an extra flare that audiences love.

    To learn Mills Mess, it helps to break the trick down into smaller pieces. Starting with one ball in your dominant hand, cross that arm over the other, and throw the ball across your body to your non-dominant hand. At the same time, uncross and recross your arms, this time with your non-dominant arm on top, and catch the ball with your non-dominant hand.   
    You have just learned the pattern for the first ball of Mills Mess. Practice until you are very comfortable leading with either hand, since you must be able to perform the throw while managing two other balls.

    The second ball starts out in your non-dominant hand, and is thrown as your arms are uncrossing—specifically the point at which your two arms are level with each other. The ball is then caught with your dominant hand, now underneath your non-dominant arm.

    As before, practice this extensively on both sides. You should now be ready to combine the first two steps. Start with one ball in each hand, arms crossed. Throw the first ball as you uncross your arms, and then throw the second ball in the same direction once your arms are level. Then, recross your arms in the opposite configuration and catch the first ball in your non-dominant hand, and the second ball in your dominant hand.

    Once again, practice this until it is second nature. To complete the Mills Mess pattern, we now have to add the third ball. This is likely to be the most difficult step, not because the third ball's path is difficult, but because you now have to deal with three balls simultaneously. The third ball is thrown last, out of your dominant hand. It is caught by the hand that throws the first ball of the next cycle.

    It is best to start out practicing one cycle at a time, while making sure that all of your throws are clean and accurate. Only then should you try chaining multiple cycles together. Make sure to maintain the flow of the balls from left to right, since it is easy to decay into messy, vertical column throws. The Mills Mess pattern itself is not restricted to three balls, and can in fact be juggled with four, five, and even six balls, in addition to other prop types like clubs and rings.