These are some tips to keep in mind when learning how to juggle. Different people juggle in lots of different ways, but these ideas are general enough to apply to technical and artistic jugglers alike. A lot of what I mention has to do with impressing an audience, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from these if you aren’t a performer. Everyone juggles to impress, whether imressing others or simply yourself.
More is not better, better is better
I don’t support the mentality that once you can juggle 3 balls, move to 4, once you can juggle 4, move to 5. Watching someone juggle three balls skillfully is worlds more interesting than if they try to struggle through a 5 ball cascade. Skill is not limited to tricks either; a skilled juggler should be able to make whatever they do look easier or harder on command. It’s that kind of control that really impresses.
Focus on the throws, not the catches
This concept applies mainly to new jugglers, but everyone should be able to appreciate the idea behind it. Having quick reflexes and being able to catch any wildly thrown ball will only get you so far in juggling, but the ability to throw accuratly will allow you to accomplish anything. If the ball can be thrown so well that the catching hand doesn’t even have to move, then juggling will be that much easier and complex tricks will be possible.
Learn tricks with both hands
Everyone will agree that this just makes sense, but actually following through and learning tricks with both hands can be a pain in the butt. Often jugglers will learn a great trick with their right hand and never learn it with their left, either because they think they’ve already learned it or they become frustrated. Learning to do tricks on either side will benefit a juggler by both putting another trick in their arsenal, and improving their less coordinated hand.
Don’t go back to cascade
You’re juggling in a cascade, you perform columns, then go back to cascade, and do mills mess. If you have to go back to cascade in between each of your tricks, your routine will never become exciting, because everyone will know exactly when the next trick is coming. Transitions are crucial to juggling, being able to switch between tricks without any indication of what’s ahead. Learning how to do this is a matter of learning new ‘base patterns’. Cascade, mills mess, burke’s barrage, are all great three ball patterns that give enough free time for tricks. If you can do columns and mills mess, that’s great, but if you can do columns from mills mess, that’s better.
Don’t look at each ball
Another seemingly introductory tip, but it has use for advanced jugglers as well. It is impossible to keep track of even three balls by watching each of their paths completely. Looking in the middle of the pattern, beyond the balls, allows your peripheral vision to see where all the balls are. Beyond helping to keep your sanity, looking beyond the balls gives you a much calmer look, making your juggling seem even more effortless and impressive.
Make the easy tricks look hard, and the hard tricks look easy
I’ve already mentioned how this ability is an indicator of skill, but not why. Being able to make Rubensteins revenge look easy while making dramatic grabs and sweeps for your statics helps to keep the audience fascinated by every trick, and exhibits control that is required for more complicated techniques and combinations.
Steal tricks and make stuff up
I’m not saying that you should run off and steal some guy’s entire routine, but watching other people’s videos and copying their techniques is a great way to learn new moves. Same goes for making up tricks. There are not many good resources for jugglers to see tricks being performed, and other jugglers can sometimes be hard to find, so being able to watch and copy is on of few ways a juggler can really learn.
Keeping these ideas in my head has helped me over the years, but they could be of no use to you. Take what works for you, and leave what doesn’t, but hopefully all of it will make sense.