Here is a Routine for You! (By Duane Laflin)

Routine_ Color Changing Ball to Square

This belongs in the category of “dusting off forgotten treasures.”  I certainly did not invent this trick, nor did I create the routine.

I am offering my way of doing a thing that I learned from others. In particular, Hank Moorehouse, was a person whom I saw use this trick many times.  Hank had a great knowledge of magic and showmanship.  He was also extremely practical.  He liked this trick and encouraged other magicians to use it for this reason: it works great!

In spite of its simplicity, the effect is a winner.  In my opinion, it is an effect that also fits into the category of being often overlooked. This may happen because of its low price (cheap so some think it must not be very good), and the fact that many magicians are exposed to it when they first start in magic.  There is initial excitement about it, then, as they progress in their careers, it gets left behind.

This trick should not be “left behind.”  If you have forgotten about it, dig it out again and use it.  If you have never been exposed to it, here is how I use it.

What happens?

The magician offers a demonstration of “the hand being quicker than the eye.”  He places a red ball into his hand and does an apparent tricky move.  He asks the audience to guess the location of the red ball.  They guess and get it right.

The magician seems disappointed so he tries again.  Again the audience gets it right.

The magician tries one more time.  This time, to the surprise of all, the red ball seems to have completely disappeared.   Rather than a red ball, the magician now has a black ball in one hand and a giant red square in the other. Where is the red ball?  In his pocket!


The Color Changing Ball To Square is a cleverly designed prop.  Basically the square is hollow and, when turned inside out, looks like a ball.  At the start of the routine a black ball is hidden within the “inside out” square.

During performance the “inside out” square is reversed.  This reveals the black ball and, at the same time, captures the red ball so it becomes hidden inside the square.

This description of the secret may seem complicated, but the trick is easy to do.


The prop known as Color Changing Ball to Square.


Turn the square inside out so it looks like a red ball.  As you do this, allow the black ball to be hidden inside the reversed square.  Put the extra red ball in your pocket.


Show the red ball (actually the inside out square).

“Here is a demonstration of sleight of hand.  You may have heard the saying, ‘The hand is quicker than the eye.’  We will discover if that is true.  Keep your eye on the red ball and watch as I do one tricky move.”

Pretend to use one hand to put the red ball into the other hand.  Be sloppy about this and retain the ball in the original hand.  Make sure the audience catches you doing this.

“Where is the red ball?  Is it in this hand or that hand?”

The audience will guess correctly.  Act disappointed about the fact that they figured out what you did.

“I will try it again.”

Again perform a sloppy pretend transfer of the ball from one hand to the other.  Allow the audience to catch what you are doing.

“Now guess.  Is the red ball in this hand or than hand?”

Again the audience guesses correctly.  Again you act disappointed.

“It seems the hand is faster on some days that it is on others.  This must be the other day, the slow day.  I will try it one more time.”

Again pretend to transfer the ball from one hand to the other.  However, this time turn the square inside out so the red ball is hidden and the black ball is released.  Keep the square in one hand and the black ball in the other.

Allow part of the square (which is red) to stick out from your hand so it appears to be the red ball.

“Guess which hand has the red ball?”

The audience will guess that it is the hand in which they see the red sticking out.

“Actually, this is not the red ball, it is the big red square!”

Show the red square.

“What about this hand?  Over here we have the black ball.”

Show the black ball.

“What happened to the red ball?  “It is in my pocket!  All I can say is, maybe the hand truly is quicker than the eye!”


To some degree this is a “sucker” routine in that the audience believes they are catching the magician and seeing his secret.  My opinion is that the emphasis on the “hand being quicker than the eye” keeps the routine from being a put-down of the audience.  Instead it is a fun challenge with a surprise, but happy ending.  I have used it for many years and always to a positive response.


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