I like dexterity tricks. I don't claim to be a master at any of them, but I've spent more than a bit of time working on various silly tricks so I figured I might as well list them here. In general I like the feeling of learning a new skill and refining it over time. Since I'm right-handed, I normally learn these tricks using my right hand, but then I'll usually try to do them left-handed as well. It's a lot easier to learn them a second time since I already know the keys to doing the tricks.
One thing I've notice in common with just about every single trick along these lines is that only a very minimal amount of movement is necessary to accomplish a lot of these tricks. Beginners tend to be flailing around, doing different motions each time and moving body parts unnecessarily. Experts achieve an economy of motion. When you're trying to learn a trick, figure out what the essential parts of the motion are and focus on those. The rest will fall into place with practice.
I can riffle shuffle two stacks of poker chips, up to eight in each stack pretty much flawlessly (perfect interleave almost all the time). I'm still working on stacks of 9 and 10. I have smallish hands so stacks of 10 will probably be about the limit and it may never be completely comfortable. The interleaving isn't too hard, but I find it hard squaring the single stack up. I found this fairly easy to learn, compared to other tricks. The key is starting with stacks of 3 or 4, and then adding an extra chip in each stack when you've mastered the previous size stack.
I can do the Twirl quite well. The key to this trick is figuring out where on the ring finger the the chip that is to be twirled needs to touch.
I made up a couple of tricks starting from the same position as the Twirl (three chips gripped with the thumb, index finger and middle finger). For the first one, I separate the innermost of the three chips with my thumb, lift it upwards, then with the middle finger, separate the two remaining chips and then slide the first chip between those two. The other is sort of the mirror image, I move the outermost chip upwards, then slide it between the two. I haven't seen a description of either of these online, but I'm sure others have come up with this separately.
I can do the same twirl as with poker chips with $1 and $2 coins. It's a bit tough with quarters since there's not enough of the coin to grab (although it's probably still quite doable with practice).
I've been working on the knuckle roll move that you see in movies. I've got the basic mechanics of it down, including the pass back to the thumb underneath the fingers, but I can't do it consistently yet. It's just a matter of practice with this one, but it's slower coming than a number of other tricks. I've been trying this with a poker chip too, but it's even harder.
I got into doing these in high school. Took a couple of weeks to learn the first one, the "Thumbaround Normal" (using the Pentrix nomenclature. They say it has a "high drop rate" but I'm pretty sure I could do it 100 times in a row. Of all the tricks I'm probably most confident in this one. Learned the "Thumbaround Reverse" shortly afterwards, but I didn't get that figured out left-handed until 2005.
There's another pen trick that I can do sort of poorly, which is a repeated flipping of the pen. You hold the pen horizontally with the thumb and middle finger on the bottom, forming a sort of pivot (around 1/4 to 1/3 the way down the pen), and the index finger on the top of the pen. Then push down with the index finger and release the pen so that it flips up in the air and does a half turn. You then catch then pen with the middle finger and thumb in the pivot position, ready to repeat the trick, so it can be done indefinitely. This trick requires an exceptional amount of precision to do smoothly for more than a few flips.
I thought I had known the "Sonic Normal" since university, however I was not doing it properly. So, I learned it from the instructions on pentrix.com in late 2005. What I had been doing was basically half of the Sonic, in which the pen turns only 180 degrees, which is a much easier trick. Anyway, I have learned the Sonic Normal, although it's not up to the standard of the other tricks yet. I should have it down pat before too long.
I'm really not much of a juggler, but I can juggle three balls quite comfortably. Took me about a week to learn this from a book when I was in high school. I tried four and five but didn't make any significant progress. Supposedly it takes on the order of a year (and very high ceilings) to master juggling five balls.
I can spin a basketball on the end of a finger for a few seconds. Haven't worked out how to keep it going indefinitely though, so it's not that interesting to watch.
Also during badminton practices in high school I learned to spin a badminton racquet around my finger. I hold the racquet vertically with the racquet faces pointing right and left and my index finger goes where the head of the racquet meets the shaft, on the side furthest away from me. Then with sort of a hula hoop type action I spin the handle of the racquet so that it rotates up and towards me, and then it continues to loop around the finger indefinitely. I can do this for a fair while, although the racquet does slip out occasionally (best to practice with an old racquet or on a softer floor). This isn't too difficult, but it's not trivial either.
Check my del.icio.us 'dexterity' bookmarks for some more links on this topic.Home
Last updated December 3, 2005