Pencil Spinning

updated November 1st, 2009

This is a 'how-to' page for pencil spinning. 
Pencil Spinning is a form of micro/contact juggling.

[Individual Tricks]  [Combos]  [Freestyle]  [Continuous]  [Links]

Individual Tricks


Level 1-5

Thumbspin 1.5: 1998 Rotate the pencil 1.5 times in the forward direction using the index and middle finger to throw and catch the pencil. The pencil's axis of rotation changes from the back of the thumb to the top side of the index finger for the last .5 rotation. This is a fundamental trick to have consistent before performing continuous spinning tricks.

Thumbspin Reverse 2.5: 1998 Twist the pencil by curling the index finger in while pushing with the thumb. Also use the middle finger to push and balance the pencil. Keep the index finger curled and tucked down out of the way so the pencil can pass over it. This trick is also called the Fake ThumbSpin Reverse, since the pencil rotates over, rather than around the thumb.


Backaround2.0: 2003 Position the pencil as you would for a Backaround, but turn your hand in toward your body to wind up the throw.  Flick your hand back and lift your thumb to release the pencil. Aim the spin of the pencil for the top side of the hand. If the pencil feels as if it is falling off your hand smoothly move your hand in that direction. This technique applies fairly well to most multiple spinning tricks. 



Description Level 1-5

Thumbspin Reverse > Backaround: 1998 Perform a Thumbspin reverse. As the pencil completes the first rotation lift your index finger allowing the pencil to continue another rotation between the index and middle finger over the back of the hand. The hard part of this trick is controlling the second half of the Backaround spin so that the pencil can be caught or transitioned into another trick.


Levitator > Backaround1.5: 2003 First learn halftaps. Set up the levitator by placing the pencil across the side of the hand and thumb as if you were in the middle of a halftap. Now press your index finger across the top of the pencil sandwiching the pencil between the thumb and side of the index finger. Now apply force to the pencil with the thumb as you would for a half tap. Since the index finger is holding the pencil in place you can load as much force as you can control before moving the blocking index finger. After learning to statically catch the levitator progress to allowing the pencil to spin when it lands on your hand. From here you can link to whatever. This video demonstrates a Levitator to BackAround1.5, in pencil spinning shorthand that's a Lev > Bak1.5.


Levitator Reverse > Backaround1.5 > Backaround 2003 Notice the spinning catch, the hand is very relaxed and acts as a cushion. The hand moves down as the pencil lands on it. As a prerequisite for this trick, learn to throw and catch a non spinning object, like a lighter, with the back of your hand. Next, learn to throw and catch with the side of your hand and then progress to a spinning pencil. There is another example of this trick at


 Thumbspin 1.5 > Sonic > Neo-Backaround > Baktap 1.0 > Sonic 2003 This is a combo not a freestyle link because I explicitly intended to do this sequence of tricks. This is the debut of the Baktap, so I will describe this trick in detail.  As the Neo-Backaround nears completion be ready to tap the pencil with the middle finger sharply across the back of the index finger, this will send the pencil in the opposite direction. Actually try to pinch the pencil between the middle and index finger so that it spits out quickly. Downward force with the middle finger into the index finger generates more power, a very sharp downward strike will cause multiple 'air baktaps'.


 Thumbspin Reverse 3.0 > Neo-Backaround > Bakflip > Backaround 1.5 > Neo-Backaround > BakFlip 2003 This is the debut of the Bakflip, it is demonstrated twice in this sequence. The Bakflip is performed following the Neo-backaround the same as you would set up for the Baktap. Just as the pencil lands between the index and middle finger on the back of the hand flick the index finger upward to flip the pencil into the air. To generate a powerful flick, slightly hold the tip of the index finger down with the end of the middle finger and then let it release sharply. Catch the pencil however neccessary to execute your next trick. In this example the pencil is caught T12(writing position) for a Backaround to follow.



Description Level 1-5

Thumbspin Freestyle: 1998 Random linkage of only thumb spin tricks. Thumbspin reverse 2.0 > Thumbspin 1.5 > Thumbspin reverse > halftap > Thumbspin 1.5.


Thumbspin Freestyle with Snapflip: 1998 Thumbspin 1.5 > Thumbspin > Thumbspin reverse > Snapflip > Thumbspin 1.5.


Thumbspin 1.5 > Neo-Backaround > Scissor Spin 1.5 > Backaround 2.0 23-12: 2003 First learn the Neo-Backaround > Scissor Spin. Do a Thumbspin 1.5, the instant the pencil passes over the tip of the index finger, completing the 1.5 spin, push your hand slightly down and forward to transition to the Neo-Backaround. Dip your index finger down after one rotation between the index and middle knuckle, this will allow the pencil to spin into the side of the middle finger. Perform a Scissor Spin 1.5 from the middle finger. To get more than 1 spin, follow through with the middle finger aiming the spin for the side of the index knuckle. At the end of the Scissor Spin1.5 let the pencil drop past both the tip of the index and middle fingers. Tilt your hand as needed to maintain a spin on the back of the hand. widen the gap between the index and middle finger for the catch.



Description Level 1-5
Continuous halftaps: 1998 Push the pencil with the index finger over the thumb, using the thumb joint as the axis of rotation. Lift the thumb to keep momentum as the pencil passes over it. This is a relatively easy trick to perform continuously.

Continuous Thumbspin 1.5: 1998 Perform a Thumbspin 1.5 as the pencil returns to its starting position increase the space between your thumb and index finger. As the pencil falls over the tip of the index finger, in a smooth motion, pinch and twist the pencil into another 1.5 rotation....

Thumbspin Reverse 1.5 > Continuous BackAround 1.5: 2001 First learn the Thumbspin Reverse > Backaround. As the pencil completes the Backaround tuck your index finger down so that the pencil rotates over it. Focus on making the side of the index finger's lower joint the axis of rotation. The pencil will be below the joint at the end of the Backaround and then above the joint to start the reverse. Slightly tip your hand down then up to allow the side of the joint to serve as a corner to keep the pencil from flying away. As the pencil completes the reverse, turn your hand up as if you were going to catch it, this will move the axis of rotation from the side and top of the index finger to around the index finger. The side of thumb can be used to guide the pencil between the fingers to start another Backaround.


Thumbspin 1.5 > Continuous Neo-BackAround > Scissor Spin:  2003 As the pencil completes the Neo-Backaround dip the index finger so the pencil spins into the side of the lower portion of the middle finger. Now turn your hand from palm down to perpendicular and at the same time twist the pencil into a forward rotation by pointing the middle finger down and the index finger up. When the pencil completes the Scissor Spin and falls over the tip of the index finger push your hand forward and turn it palm side down to guide the pencil  between the index and middle finger for the next Neo-Backaround.