Juggling is not as difficult as you would think. I learned how to juggle 3 beanbags when I was 11 years old. It took me about 2 weeks of working on it for 10-20 minutes each night to get comfortable with it. I’ve seen elementary-aged children successfully learn how to juggle in under an hour.
I’m going to write out some instructions here, but you can also watch my free video tutorial at the bottom of this post.
Here are some suggestions before you start:
1. Find 3 small balls. I suggest hacky sacks or beanbags. Tennis balls or baseballs work as well, but the tennis balls can bounce a lot (you can fill them with sand) and the baseballs can damage things if you’re indoors. You can also use scarves or plastic grocery bags since they float and give you more time to learn.
2. Find a good location. I suggest over a bed (so you don’t have to bend over each time you drop) or in front of a wall (so you don’t chase your juggling balls all over the room). Over a bed in front of a wall would be nice.
3. Be patient. Just like anything, juggling takes patience and practice. Just relax and give yourself permission to mess up (a lot) in the whole process of learning how to juggle. Nobody is born a juggler.
Here are the steps:
1. One Ball – Take one balls and toss it from one hand to the other. Make it follow the path of an arc that peaks about a foot above your forehead. The ball should follow that same path as you toss it back and forth from hand to hand. After about 3-5 minutes of this exercise, you should be ready to move to two balls…
2. Two Balls – Now, put one ball in each hand. Start with whatever hand you like. Throw the first ball in the path of the arc above your forehead. When that ball reaches the peak of the arc, throw the other ball (from your other hand) in the path of the same arc, just going the opposite direction. Essentially, you are criss-crossing the balls in the air, with one ball leading before the other ball. DO NOT hand one ball to to the other hand. Always toss both balls in the air to the same height (like criss-crossing the balls). Repeat this process until you can toss arcs back and forth (see the video below).
3. Three Balls – Now put two balls in one hand and one ball in the other. You will start with the ball that is furthest away from you in the hand holding 2 balls. Throw that first ball, then throw the ball in the other hand, then throw the final ball from your first hand. Throw each ball one after another, in the path of the arc just above your forehead. It it easier to just learn the throws first and let the balls fall to the ground. Your catches will catch up with your learning curve. Just get the throws down first. Keep working on this until you can make one, two, three catches. Then continue the pattern until you can make four, five, and six catches. Check out the video below to see what this looks like. Repeat this process for about 20 minutes and you will become an official juggler. The definition of a three-ball juggler is someone who can throw three balls between two hands with at least six catches. Don’t get weary: everyone drops! Just keep on picking up and trying again.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
DO NOT throw two balls in a circle pattern between your two hands. Most people do this and think they are juggling. They are not. The official definition of juggling is when you have more balls going than hands. Thus, if you juggle two balls with two hands, then you are not juggling. But if you juggle two with one hand, then you are juggling. When using two hands, you are not juggling until you have at least three balls. The world record is somewhere between ten and twelve. But let’s just start with three!