When performing this trick, the magician makes an ordinary ball float in the air. I will showcase three different performances, and explain all of the different methods used for these tricks.
Maybe you expected a little more than that, but here are the ways how the trick can be done:
To make a ball float in the air, the magician can use a “Zombie Ball” with a hidden hole inside, in which he sticks his thumb. Another technique is to use a metal rod or a string covered by a cloth, which makes it look like the ball is floating.
I will explain all of these methods in this article.
How to do the floating ball trick with a “Zombie Ball”
This is not really a trick that you would see in a magic show, it’s a small little effect for in between. Some viewers might reveal the secret within a few seconds, so in my opinion, the trick is great for a little show for kids, but that’s it.
Here’s the performance and a short explanation:
The magician puts both of his hands around the ball and starts to slowly remove his fingers, one by one. After the ball lays only in the palm of his lower hand, he removes both of his hands completely and the ball floats in the air for a few seconds.
The secret behind this trick is rather simple: The ball is a special gimmick, a so-called “Zombie Ball”. It has a hole, in which you can stick your thumb. This allows you to remove all other fingers, with only the thumb keeping the ball in place.
From the front, it can look pretty convincing with a good technique, but if there are any spectators behind you, they will reveal the trick instantly.
This method is not as entertaining as the second one, but I wanted to mention it in this article as well since the special “Zombie Ball” is used for most of the floating ball performances.
Another method of the floating ball trick revealed
This method uses the same gimmick as before, the “Zombie Ball”. However, the technique is very different.
For this trick, the ball is covered with a black cloth and starts floating underneath it. Eventually, the ball even floats above the edge of the cloth and disappears for a short moment.
You can watch the performance and an explanation right here:
In the beginning, the magician shows the ball laying underneath a black cloth. He then picks up the corners of the fabric and the ball instantly starts to rise up in the air. It almost looks like it tries to escape from the cloth!
After a while, the ball even floats above the edge of the cloth for a few seconds, before it drops right back under it.
To end this trick, the magician even makes the ball disappear, showing the cloth empty from both sides, only to make it reappear right after and landing the ball safely on the table again.
The secret is simpler than you might think. As already mentioned above, the ball used for this trick is a special gimmick, the so-called “Zombie Ball”. It has a hole inside it, that is hidden from the audience during the entire performance.
However, to make this method work, another tool is required. It’s a metal rod that connects the ball with one of the magician’s fingers. The unique construction, specifically designed for this trick, can be stuck inside the hole of the ball, while the other end can be put on a single finger.
This way, the magician has full control over every single movement of the ball, while the metal rod is hidden during the entire act.
The cloth is another really important part of the puzzle. In the beginning, it conceals the metal rod that is already attached to the Zombie Ball. As soon as the magician picks the cloth up, he can slide one of his fingers inside the metal rod and start to make to ball float. All of this is hidden completely by the cloth!
To make his movements look more natural, he mirrors his grip on the two sides of the cloth, making the same moves with both of his hands.
During the performance, the magician makes it look like the ball tries to escape from underneath the cloth. He achieves this illusion by stretching his arms and raising both of his hands at the same time. A surprised look on his face makes the illusion even more convincing – apparently, even the magician himself didn’t know about the powers of the ball!
How to make the floating ball disappear for a short moment
Another short illusion during the performance: The magician makes the ball disappear for a short moment, showing both sides of the cloth empty.
For this trick, the special metal rod comes in handy as well. It allows the magician to move the ball underneath his armpit, by flipping his hand inwards. Since the ball is connected with his finger, he can move it around very quickly.
He just has to flip the ball behind his armpit and press his arm against his body, covering the entire ball from the audience in front. Now, he can show both sides of the cloth empty for a short moment.
To make the ball reappear, he simply lifts his arm slightly up, flips the ball back underneath the cloth, and can continue with his performance.
Other methods of the floating ball trick
Now, you might have seen other performances of this, probably without any cloth, making it look like the ball really defies gravity. One of the most famous shows is this one by Penn and Teller.
The floating ball trick by Penn and Teller:
I don’t want to reveal every single movement, but since we live in a world where gravity exists, no objects can float in the air. When magicians don’t use one of the previous methods, it’s usually just a piece of string. Really, it’s that simple.
To make things float, magicians use the "Invisible Thread" most of the times.
Even when you know that there has to be a thread somewhere, a well-done floating trick is always a pleasure to watch and an own form of art. Sometimes, knowing the method makes a magic trick even more beautiful to watch and enjoy.
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