Four Ball Mills Mess

Other Tutorials:

ashomsky (video)

     The Four Ball Mills Mess is just as it sounds: a four ball version of the popular Mills Mess pattern. However, unlike its little brother, the Four Ball Mills Mess is built off of the Fountain, therefore the balls never actually switch hands. The Four Ball Mills Mess is significantly harder to learn the the regular Mills Mess, and it can take months of practice to achieve a clean and sustainable pattern.

    To begin learning the Four Ball Mills Mess, start with two balls in your dominant hand, and one ball in your non-dominant hand. Cross your dominant hand over your non-dominant hand, and then make a throw from your dominant hand in the direction of your non-dominant hand. As you are making that throw, uncross your arms, throwing the ball in your non-dominant hand at the moment when your arms are fully uncrossed. That ball should travel in the same direction as the first ball. Once that throw has been made, recross your arms, this time with your non-dominant hand on top.

    Up to this point, these throws and arm movements are identical to the standard Mills Mess. There should be two balls in the air at this point, and the first ball should be close to your hands now. You will find yourself naturally wanting to catch the first ball with your non-dominant hand, which is now on top, since that most closely matches the three ball Mills Mess. However, you must overcome that desire and instead throw the last ball in your dominant hand under the arm of your dominant hand, clearing space for your dominant hand to catch the first ball. The second ball should be caught by your non-dominant hand, and the third ball should be caught by your dominant hand.
    Practice this extensively on both sides. As you likely noticed, the balls don't actually switch hands, despite the arm movements. This is an important thing to keep in mind; if you find that the balls are in fact switching hands, it is a definitive sign that you are doing something wrong.

    Once you have the above step mastered, it is time to add in the fourth ball. Start with two balls in each hand, and then do the same exact throws done in the previous step. However, when it comes time to catch the second throw with your non-dominant hands, there should be, unlike in the previous step, a ball in that hand. This ball is going to be thrown over the second and third balls, and will travel in the opposite direction. Once that ball has been thrown, catch the second ball as you uncross your arms and then catch the third and fourth balls.
    Practice this on both sides. Once you have it mastered, it is time to add in the fifth throw. Notice in the previous step that when the third ball is caught, there is already a ball in that hand. For the next step, your are going to make a throw from that hand in the same direction as the fourth throw, and recross your hands, catching the fourth throw in your bottom hand and the fifth throw in your top hand.
    As shown in the animation, practice this on both sides. Now at this point, you may be able to figure out the rest of the pattern your self based on the rhythm of this step. However, if you are still confused, there is one more individual throw to practice. The sixth throw is made to clear space for the fourth throw to be caught, and it is a full under the arm throw, going the same direction as the previous two throws.
    Again, practice this on both sides. By this point, it would be very surprising if your body didn't naturally pick up the rhythm of the pattern. However, just in case, the seventh throw is made from your top hand, and signals the point where the pattern once again changes directions. After the seventh throw is made, your arms uncross as they make the eighth and ninth throws.

    Running the full Four Ball Mills Mess for extended periods takes a lot of practice, and is almost, but not quite as difficult as the Five Ball Cascade. And remember, the balls never switch hands, so always watch out for that as you practice.