The muscle pass is one of the most impressive sleights in coin magic. Using no gimmicks, it allows the performer to give the illusion of levitating a coin between his hands. It is also one of the most difficult coin sleights and requires hours of dedicated practice before the trick can be performed properly.
Find Your Spot
Open your dominant hand, palm up. Place the large coin in your hand in between the large muscles that form the base of the thumb and the base of the little finger.
Push the coin into your palm with your other hand. Move your thumb inwards, until the base of your thumb begins to push the coin into the base of your little finger. Squeeze these two muscles together until the coin is held securely between them. Let go of the coin with your other hand.
Turn your hand palm down. Practice until the coin does not fall when you hand is palm down. If you have trouble holding the coin, move it around your palm slowly until you find a spot on your hand that can grip it firmly. If it still falls, curl your ring and middle fingers toward the center of your hand and use them to push it back into place. This gripping and holding technique is called the classic palm. It allows you to conceal a coin in your hand without using your fingers. It is the basis for the muscle pass.
Practice the Muscle Pass
Hold the coin in classic palm. Slowly squeeze the coin with the base of your thumb and the base of your little finger.
Continue squeezing until the coin slips out of your hand, coming off of the base of your thumb. This is the basic move of the muscle pass. If it comes off of the base of your little finger, or does not slip out no matter how hard you squeeze, move the coin slightly toward the base of the thumb and try again.
Continue practicing and squeezing the coin until it pops off of the base of your thumb consistently. Eventually, you will develop a callous on the base of your thumb. This callous will allow you to apply more pressure to the coin, which will cause it to pop out of your palm with greater force. With practice, the coin will eventually jump several inches out of your hand when it is palm up.
Perform the Muscle Pass
Borrow a coin from a spectator. Place the coin in your hand and leave your hand open so the spectator can see it clearly.
Stretch both hands out in front of you and the spectator. Place your empty hand over the hand with the coin. Lift the coin up and let it fall back into your hand several times. Ask the spectator if she has ever taken a physics class before. Tell the spectator that no physicist in the world can explain what they are about to see.
Drop the coin into your bottom hand one final time and close your hand around it. Turn it palm down and push the coin into the classic palm using your middle and ring fingers. Turn the bottom hand palm up, with the coin still palmed, and perform the muscle pass. Catch the coin in the air with the top hand. By catching the coin instead of letting it fall back down, you create the illusion that it was drawn to your hand.
Hand the coin to the spectator for examination. Let a spectator wave his hands in between yours to verify that no strings or springs or any other devices were used. If done properly, the effect is very powerful.
The muscle pass is extremely difficult and will seem impossible the first time you try it. Don't be discouraged. After consistent practice, you will begin to see results.
The muscle pass typically works best with a larger coin. Experiment until you find a size that fits your hand comfortably. A good rule of thumb is to follow a 3-to-1 ratio. If the width of your palm is less than three times the width of the coin, it is probably too big.
When you first begin practicing the muscle pass, a sore spot will develop in your hand. This is normal. Don't over practice, or you may injure your hand. Take breaks when necessary.
- Ilya Kovic; Professional Magician; Naples, Florida
Ilya Kovic is the owner and founder of his own business: The Magic of Ilya Kovic. He began attending the University of Florida in 2010 and holds an Associate of Arts from Edison Community College in Naples.