Circus Workshops and Skills from Alight Fingers  

The Better Way to Learn to Juggle 3 Balls

There isn't a 'right' way to learn how to juggle, but by taking it a bit slower, and carrying out all the exercises below, you should develop a smoother, neater juggling pattern. Each of the exercises below is easier than juggling 3 balls, and will help you develop or improve the skills for 3 ball juggling (without spending as much time picking the balls up off the floor).

The idea behind this is that by learning how to throw one ball about well, and then two, before learning three, you'll have a better idea of how it all fits together, and you'll have a neater juggling pattern when you do get three balls going.

One Ball

Firstly, always bear in mind these two key points. Every throw should go to the same height, and don't reach up to catch the balls, wait for them to come down to waist level before attempting to catch.

  1. Watch the animation, concentrating on just the blue ball.
  2. Notice how it follows a smooth pattern, as it goes from side to side.
  3. The ball starts in the hand on the left of the body, is carried to the centre of the body, and is thrown diagonally upwards, peaking just above head height, before coming down and being caught on the right side of the body.
  4. The operation is then reversed, throwing from right to left. Remember to carry the ball to the centre of your body between catching and throwing.
  5. Using just one ball, practice steps 3 and 4 until you are throwing and catching the ball in a smooth, consistent pattern with a constant rhythm.

When you can do the above, and clap between throws and catches, it's time to move on. Alternatively, just move on when you're bored. You can always come back and practice just one ball again later.

Two Balls

  1. Watch the animation again, this time concentrating on the blue and red balls (You might like to stop and start it again)
  2. Notice how both balls follow the same path around the pattern, even though they start on different sides.
  3. Starting with one ball in each hand, throw one into the air, in the same way as you did when practising with just one ball.
  4. As it reaches the peak of it's arc, throw the second ball under the path of the first, as in the animation.
    NOTE : It is of extreme importance that both balls are thrown to the same height. What often happens is that people throw one ball up, and then just pass the second ball across, from one hand to the other, instead of throwing it. While effective for two balls, this method makes juggling three far more complex, and you'll want to get yourself out of this habit.
  5. Catch the first ball thrown.
  6. Catch the second ball thrown.
  7. This should all happen with a steady rhythm ... throw throw catch catch. Don't rush. You should not throw the second ball until the first is at the top of its arc. If you throw both balls at the same time, then both balls will come down at the same time, which means you'll be trying to catch both balls at the same time, which is just making life more difficult than it has to be.
  8. Pause 'half a second' to correct your posture.
  9. Repeat steps 3-6, this time starting from the opposite hand.

Eventually, you will be throwing two balls around like the animation. Then, when you aren't taking so long to correct your posture after each pair of throws, you end up with a steady pattern of two throws from each hand, i.e. right, right, left, left, right, right, left, left, etc. etc. (Follow the balls in the animation to see what I mean).

Don't rush this, but over time, as your throws and catches get neater, you can speed up slightly. Remember that your goal should be to get this smooth enough to fit a third ball into the pattern. When you can do this perfectly, you will have a gap in the pattern, i.e. right, left, [gap], left, right, [gap], etc. etc.

Try filling the gaps with claps i.e. right, left, [clap], left, right, [clap], etc. etc.

Three Balls

Now that you've put in the groundwork, you're ready to fill in the gaps, and carry out the steps in the fast way of learning to juggle.

Remember, that if ever you have any difficulty, you can always come back and learn the easier stages for a while longer. Many top jugglers, who can juggle far more than 3 balls, still spend hour after hour throwing just one ball around, at different heights, and with different rhythms, in an attempt to perfect their throwing and catching.


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