I get asked this question all the time: “How long does it take to learn to juggle?”
It varies from person to person, but I know you want a definitive answer, right? After having taught thousands of people to juggle, my answer is:
With the right teacher, you can learn to juggle in 30 minutes or less.
Now this doesn’t mean you’ll be a pro after that time, but it’s possible to have the basic pattern down (called the 3-Ball Cascade) after 30 minutes of coaching and practice. And this applies to teenagers on up.
Then, just practice 20-30 minutes every day for a week or two, and you’ll be pretty good!
Here are some things you can do to learn more quickly:
- Learn first with juggling scarves to understand the pattern in “slow-motion.”
- Set a goal before practicing. It can be something like “Throw 5 times without dropping.”
- Track your progress. Use the JuggleFit iPhone app or PDF log.
Want to learn to juggle in 30 minutes, guaranteed? Schedule a lesson with me over Skype, or if you live in NYC, come to one of my classes!
I taught a class at Hudson River Park last week for CourseHorse‘s Summer Sparks series. We were on the lawn with a nice view of the river, with ominous yet beautiful rain clouds looming in the
It’s so relaxing to juggle outside…this otter actually fell asleep while juggling!
Photo by jo-h on Flickr
I really noticed how relaxed we all were, which propelled everyone’s progress quite a bit. After about 15 minutes of instruction, standing in the middle of this large circle of students, I looked around and saw nearly everyone practicing juggling balls with perfect timing, pattern and not even walking forward (which is usually very common). Wow! It was like everyone was progressing fast and at the same level – pretty rare.
How did this happen? Well, it could have been an incredibly coordinated group, but I also think it had something to do with the setting – out amongst nature. Grass, water, trees, birds flying above. Doesn’t that sound relaxing?
Since a major part of learning to juggle – as well as learning new moves and patterns – is mental, it’s important to be in a relaxed state to make progress. Being in a natural environment is relaxing in itself, which makes the perfect setting for juggling practice!
I even found myself following a flying gull (with my eyes) while juggling…and I didn’t even drop.
So make use of your neighborhood parks, beaches and campgrounds as your practice space. You’ll be relaxed and have a productive practice session.
It’s common to walk forward when first learning to juggle, especially with balls. I did it, most people I teach do it, and you may be doing it. If you’re not, then congratulations, you are definitely a step ahead of the game!
So why do people walk when learning juggling? There’s a tendency to throw out in front rather than across our body, maybe because of an instinct to protect ourselves from being hit by the ball. When we throw out, of course we walk forward to catch, it the only natural thing to do!
As long as you juggle with beanbag-type balls (or scarves), it’s okay if the ball actually comes at you. So go ahead and aim at your opposite shoulder – this will counteract the tendency to throw out.
Here are some more tips for juggling without walking forward:
- Keep your feet planted. Pretend you are a tree trunk, solid and stable. Do not allow your feet to move. If you throw a ball out of reach, don’t step anywhere to catch it. Since now there is no way you can catch a ball that is too far out, your mind and body will react by throwing closer. Basically, you don’t want to reinforce a a habit that is preventing you from juggling, whether it’s throwing forward, catching overhand, etc.
- Practice facing a wall, preferably one with a solid color. Stand about 2 feet from a wall and juggle. You’ll probably notice some of your throws hit the wall. Keep practicing and focus on preventing the balls from hitting the wall by throwing across your body. If you need to go back to two balls, do that against the wall and get it solid before moving on to three.
- Position your wrists slightly up and in toward your body. This will encourage throws that are aimed closer to your body rather than too far out in front of you.
Try these methods one at a time. So you might start by keeping your feet planted, and when you can do that without thinking about it, then move onto facing a wall. The order doesn’t matter, but you want to internalize each step before moving onto another one.
You might not even need to try all of these things – just one may stop your throws from going out. And you’ll be juggling without walking!
Have fun and happy juggling!