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Step 1: Preparation
Your Juggling Instructions are about to start you on a wonderful adventure...
Get three objects to juggle, like bean bags. Now, set aside the juggling balls. Stand up, feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, arms at your side.
Now raise your hands, bending at the elbows, forearms parallel to the floor, palms facing up. Relax . Perhaps close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Work toward releasing any tension in your body, especially in the joints - wrists, knees, elbows, shoulders, neck. Do this for a moment or two - as long as it feels good.
You are starting to teach your body to how it should feel as you juggle - relaxed and free of tension. Your body will learn (as you’ll see) just as it learns, and remembers, many tasks - like driving a car or riding a bicycle. As your body learns, your mind is free to focus on other things - like catching a ball or tossing one. Then, as you progress, as your body learns, you won’t have to think about throwing or catching.
Juggling instructions - go to next step...
Step 2: One Ball
Juggling Instructions continued....
With your body relaxed, continue by picking up one of the juggling balls. Stand relaxed, same position - knees slightly bent, forearms parallel to the floor. Hold the ball in either hand, (palms up) fingers closed softly holding the ball. (Note: For this lesson, let’s assume you hold the ball in your Right hand to start. Although everything you do in juggling, you should practice with both hands.)
Now, make your first toss. Toss the ball from your Right hand to your Left, keeping the following in mind:
1. Work toward tossing the ball with the least effort. Work toward throwing it by using your wrists and not your elbows or your shoulders.
2. Throw the ball in an arc to the Left hand. The height of the arc should be to about the top of your head. You can vary the height of course, but for now work toward keeping the throws all to the same height - to about the top of your head.
3. Work toward keeping the ball in one plane - that is, don’t throw the ball in toward your body or out away from your body.
OK, make that first toss. Now, toss back from the Left hand to the Right. Repeat.
Things to remember as you toss one ball back and forth:
1. No rush here. You don’t need to throw it as quickly as you can. After each toss, just pause for a second. Take a breath. If necessary, go back to your initial stance (forearms parallel to the floor, etc.) Then make the next throw, and keep repeating.
2. Work on being consistent in your throws - each toss staying in the same plane - each toss going to the same height, whether thrown from the Right or the Left hand. Note: You may have a tendency to throw straight across to one hand, probably when throwing from your “weakest” hand (i.e. Left if you’re Right handed.) Don’t worry about that, just keep working on making the tosses consistent.
As you toss the ball back and forth, you won't toss in perfect arcs, or to the exact same height, or stay in the same plane. But so what? The fun is in progress - in getting better. Keep relaxing your body and work toward consistent tosses.
Oh, you should also catch the ball. BUT that's really the easy part. Somebody tosses you a ball. You react. You put your hand out and catch it, without really thinking about it. It is the easy part when you have consistent throws. And so (for now) we won't talk anymore about catching, other than to say there is no need to grab the ball tightly. Your fingers will easily close around the ball as it lands.
And, one thing you can focus on now, practice keeping your hand down (forearms parallel to the floor.) No need for your hand to go up and catch the ball around your head. Gravity will help the ball come down to your hand.
Practice tossing one ball, throwing from one hand back to the other, working toward consistent tosses, and keeping your hands down for the catches.
Step 3: Add the 2nd Ball
Juggling Instructions continued...
Stay relaxed. Pick up the 2nd ball, one in each hand. Start by tossing the ball in the Right hand to the Left.
As the ball reached the top of its arc, and just starts down to the Left hand, toss the 2nd ball (from the Left) up and underneath the 1st ball. That's it!
Work toward consistent height of both balls, in that same arc you worked on with one ball.
Quick Review: Toss the ball from the Right hand. Just as it starts down, toss the 2nd ball from the Left hand. Pause and take a breath. Repeat: Right toss, Left toss, Pause, Repeat.
The pause will help you to start feeling the rhythm that happens with juggling. The pause should be about as long as one toss. So the rhythm is 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3 etc. - where 1 is the first toss, 2 is the second toss, and 3 is the pause.
Now, do it again (1-2-3 etc) but this time start with the 1st throw coming from the Left hand. So it's Left toss, Right toss, Pause, Repeat. (Remember, learn to do everything with both hands.)
The repetition is important in learning to juggle, but it shouldn't become boring. So repeat the tosses as long as you feel comfortable, then take a little break. When you come back, repeat a few more times (1-2-3 etc.) Then you'll be adding the 3rd ball - and you'll be juggling!
Some things to keep in mind:
You may have a tendency to throw the 2nd ball (especially if it's from your weaker hand) straight across. That's natural - and why it's important to start with one ball - so the consistent arc becomes natural. Try this: Over-compensate by focusing on the 2nd ball and throwing it a little higher than normal. It'll even out - and become natural and consistent.
The balls may tend to go out in front of you - away from your body. (If they haven't yet, they probably will when you add the 3rd ball.) Don't panic. That's pretty normal too. Over-compensate by throwing them in toward your body.
If we all could juggle naturally, we wouldn't have to practice. And we probably wouldn't really care to juggle in that case. The fun is seeing your own progress. And you will start seeing that soon. On with the juggling instructions...
Step 4: Time to add the 3rd ball
OK. Time to juggle....
Pick up 3 balls - 2 in the Right hand and 1 in the Left. Relax your body. Breathe.
Note: You can start with 2 in the Left and 1 in the Right, especially if you're Left-handed. Just reverse the "Rights" and "Lefts" in the following. As you practice, you should, in fact, switch which hand starts with 2 balls.
Now, you're just going to replace the "pause" in the last step with the 3rd ball.
# Toss 1 ball from the Right hand.
# As it reaches the top of its arc, throw the 2nd ball from your Left up and underneath the 1st. (Just like in the last step.)
# This is the new part: As the 2nd ball reaches the top of its arc and just starts down, toss the 3rd ball (the one still in your Right hand) up and underneath the 2nd. That's it. That's juggling.
# Now, keep going. As the 3rd ball reaches the top of its arc, throw the ball in your Left hand (the 1st ball that you threw) up and underneath the 3rd.
Chances are that the balls didn't behave as well as they should. The first 2 tosses may have been smooth. But then, when it's time for the 3rd, your body panicked. For now, as you repeat this, force yourself to make that 3rd toss, even if you miss catching the 1st or 2nd.
The arcs of the tosses may be way off (very high or very low.) One or more balls may go way out in front of you. Don't panic! Pick up the balls, Relax, Take a breath. And do it again.
This is where it can get frustrating. Before it does, go back and repeat the first 3 steps. 1. Relax your body and find that neutral position. 2. Toss 1 ball back and forth. 3. Add the 2nd ball with the pause. Then 4. add the 3rd ball again, making yourself throw all three tosses.
Always work toward making the 4th (and 5th and 6th) tosses.
Note: Until this point, your mind could easily follow the 1 ball, then even the 2 balls. When the 3rd is added, then the 4th, things start happening too quickly for your mind to keep up. This is where your body must learn. (That's what was happening already in the first 3 steps.) That''s also why it's important to keep going back to the first 3 steps - So your body can learn what to do without thinking about it.
Keep going. Take a break, and do it a while more. Keep working toward making 3 smooth tosses and catches, then 4, then 5, then 6, and on and on .... and you're juggling! (By the way, that's called the 3 ball cascade.)
Don't forget to print out these juggling instructions for your reference offline.