Hats available from Renegade - Poll Bowler and Top Hat

Hat Manipulation

  1. The Hat Itself - purchase and care
  2. Basic Action and Tricks
  3. Resources

NEW : see trickswithhats.org for a complete resource with videos and more!

1) The Hat Itself

Hats for manipulating are generally derby hats, top hats, or bowler hats. The most popular hat is by far the derby purely for ease of manipulation and widest variety ofpossible tricks. Their surface can be broken up into 2 parts: hat diagram

Hats from a milliner will work, but are not properly weighted and stiffened for professional manipulation. Even if you just want to try it out, its a better bet to buy a proper juggling hat:

Dubé Juggling stocks a Derby Hat (US$48), Tall Hat (US$69), and Collapsible Top Hat (US$175) in a variety of sizes. Pictured at right. Also available from Juggleart in Australia, among other places.
Used it. I've used the Dubé Derby hat, and it is quite excellent. It is owned by my local juggling club and hence sees a lot of use, yet it still looks brand new.

Renegade Juggling stocks a Poll Bowler (US$80) and Top Hat (US$60). Pictured at top.

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Dube Hats, links to Dube website

2) Basic Action and Tricks

Obviously these can all be done on both the left and right.
Vertical axis refers to the hat being in the position it would normally lay upright on a table, crown opening down, or a rotation in the direction the hands would make on a wall clock. Horizontal axis refers to the position the hat would be in if laying on its side, crown opening facing front, back or side; or a rotation in the direction a spoon in a pot would make.
Once you become adept at all of these tricks, try using two hats at once.

Crown Rolls:

These involve rolling the side of the crown along the arm. With your arm extended horizontally (or a few degrees above or below horizontal), hold the hat with fingers inside the crown opening, opening facing forward. Flick the hat using your fingers, allowing the side of the crown to roll along the arm. Catch it at the top of your shoulder from in front or behind your head.
Variations: Start the roll at your shoulder and roll it down to your hand.
Roll from one hand, all the way over your shoulders and down the other arm to the second hand.

End-over-End Rolls:

Hold the hat with your fingers inside the crown opening and thumb on top (or just to side) of the brim, crown opening facing downwards. With your arm completly straight, and held horizontally in the same direction your head is facing, use your fingers to flick the hat so that it rolls end over end. If you have your head bent over (so your face is pointing towards the ground) the hat will come to rest perfectly on your head. Make sure to keep your arm completely straight (lock your elbow), and to keep your thumb out of the way.


Throw from hand to head, with vertical axis spins, or horizontal axis spins.
Variations: try this starting with hat in front of body, to side of body, and behind body; vary the amount of spins it makes.
If you get really good, try throwing it into a balance.


Holding the hat so the top of the crown is resting in the palm of your hand. flip the hat up so it makes one revolution in any vertical axis, and comes to rest in its original position.


Spin the hat on various pivot points:
using the top of the crown, side of crown or brim.
using your finger or transferring to nose.
Also spinning the hat around a finger or thumb, placing the digit inside the crown opening.


Balance the hat by its brim, crown side, or crown top, on your finger, nose, chin, crown, forehead, or on another object (such as a cane, or juggling club).


balancing on one foot, hold the other foot several inches above the ground and place in the hat's crown opening, kick the hat up with a single or double vertical axis spin so that it lands on your head.


Placing the opening of the crown over your elbow, knee, shoulder. Used as a pause between moves.

Finger Manipulations:

If anyone can figure out how to textually explain these tricks (sometimes known as "tumbling"), i would love to see it. Till then, you're going to have to get someone to show you, or wait for someone to post a video of it on the internet. These basically involve using the first two fingers or fingers and thumb, in a scissor grip, to spin the hat by its brim.


: Hats can also be juggled in the normal ball manner, doing cascades, showers, etc. See the pages at the Juggling Information Service for information on regular juggling. Here are some hat specific variations:
- In a shower type pattern with the head as a resting place at the top of the pattern.
- In a cascade pattern, throw the hats to the head and whilst the thrown hat is still in the air, remove the hat that is on the head with the same hand. Alternate the throwing hands and you have a cascade.


A nice variation; spin the hat (as if you were going to throw it onto your head) and knock the rim away so it starts spinning the other direction, then catch it in your hand again, or bounce it several times until it finally settles on your head.

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3) Resources


see trickswithhats.org for a complete resource with videos and more

JIS page: Tricks with Hats & Umbrellas

There may appear videos of "hat how-to" at the OffJazz: Hat and Cane page. as of this update there were only cane spinning videos though

Hat Juggling With andy head video cover


This instructional video features Andy Head, the 1985 and 1991 U.S. National Juggling Champion. Specializing in hat juggling for many years, he covers all the basic and not-so-basic moves, including spins, tosses, catches, flips, rolling, swinging and more. 36 min. VHS or PAL #1920 US$19.95 ea.
Available from Dubé Juggling.
SEEN IT. This is a great video. If you intend on learning all that can be done with a hat, and don't have anyone good to teach you or even if you do, definately get this video. Having said that, i'll critique it: very 80's style, this can grate on the nerves; very fast demonstrations, there are no slow motion examples, so you will have to experiment occasionally to figure out for yourself what he is doing. However, he does give a number of demonstrations for each move, so you are not forever rewinding every 5 seconds.
The tricks he covers are (quoted from back of box): "Crown Spin, Single Spin on Head, Removal and Replacement, Roll Hat Down Arm, Roll Hat Up Arm, Rolling Down Back, Rolling Up Back, Flipping Hat to Head, Flipping from Your Foot, Arm Rolls, Placements, Balance, Comical Placements, Another Trick Toss, Spin, Over Wrist, Swinging, and Much Much More!!" He also covers the importance of blending tricks together, and themes in acts.


Manipulative Miscellanea book cover
Classic manipulation skills with hats, canes, plates, ball spinning, specialty balancing, nesting cups, and various assorted objects. Each instructional chapter contains enough materials to develop the basis for a routine. 104 pp. Illustrations. Paper. #0913 $10.00 ea.
Available from Dubé Juggling.


MAX ENTRE DEUX FEUX (1916) [Max Linder film] France. Slapstick comedy.
Max Linder does short tricks with his top hat and then with his cane.

POPPY (1936) [W.C. Fields, Rochelle Hudson, Richard Cromwell, Granville Bates]
W.C. Fields does some juggling related manipulations, such as rolling a hat around him on the floor.

YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN (1939) [W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, Constance Moore, John Arledge, James Bush]
Fields' classic ping-pong match is included. W.C. Fields throws a hat.

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) [Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse]
There is some umbrella manipulation similar to cane twirling. Also, Donald O'Connor does some hat manipulation while dancing.
SEEN IT. very short hat and cane manipulation segment. Donald O'Conner does the famous "Make em laugh, Make em laugh" musical routine (lots of Keatonesque physical comedy). If you can stand a musical, watch it.

Benny & Joon (1993) [Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn]
Johnny Depp performs Keaton-esque physical comedy, including a hubcap spin on a finger and three plates being handed back and forth among three people in a cascade. He also does some street performance and various balancing tricks in the movie, including a classic Buster Keaton porkpie hat routine.
SEEN IT. great movie. the hat routine is more comedic than manipulative, but still quite inspirational. the movie itself is well worth watching.

FUNNY BONES (1995) [Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis, Lee Evans, Leslie Caron, Oliver Reed]
Many variety acts are seen briefly, including juggler Laci Endresz, Jr. The dazzling clown George Carl appears here as half of a fictional comedy team, the Parker Brothers, along with British stand-up comic Freddie Davies. Carl does some hat tricks, and Carl and Davies do some plate manipulation. In another scene there are three male unicyclists in tutus, riding in a cascade pattern.
SEEN IT. this is a great movie. the hat manipulation segment is short but good. the movie itself i think of as a british style "Delicatessen" (ie quite surreal).

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