How to Recover from a Drop in a Juggling Act

Anybody who juggles knows that drops are common. Of course, you will practice your act and try to perfect it, but at some point, it's not a question of whether you drop, but when. It's not the end of the world, and if you're prepared to recover quickly and well, it's not the end of your act, either.


  1. 1
    Practice your recoveries just as you practice your act. Practicing will make them second nature, so that you don't panic just because you've dropped something. A drop during practice is not the time to take a break. It's the time to practice your recoveries.
  2. 2
    Prep your audience. If you haven't quite worked out all the kinks yet, or if a trick is really going to be difficult, you can flat out tell your audience that you may drop a couple of times during your act. Let them know you're relaxed about it, and they'll relax, too.
    • Tell your audience when a particularly difficult trick is coming. Say you're going to give yourself three tries. There is suspense (and therefore interest) in watching somebody do something that is difficult.
  3. 3
    Learn recovery techniques. Practice picking up a drop and getting back into your pattern or your group's pattern. If you are juggling with a group, it will help if everyone knows the basics of recovery, anyway.
  4. 4
    Learn some tricks for picking up a dropped prop. You can even turn a drop into an applause point this way. If you're comfortable having an audience member or another performer throw a prop back into your pattern, ask someone to do that for you. Or see if you can keep the remaining objects going while you kneel down to pick up a drop. Otherwise, learn some kick-ups.
    • Scoop the ball onto one toe. You can get it there with your other foot.
      To kick up a dropped ball with your feet, use one foot to scoop it onto the other toe. Then kick straight up and catch it. You can kick straight into your pattern if you practice.
    • Hook your foot under the center of the club.
      To kick up a dropped club, roll the middle of it onto your foot, with the bulb facing out away from you. Flex your foot up in a hook so the handle of the club touches your ankle, as shown. Then kick straight up quickly. The club will rotate on its own and land in your hand. This maneuver will take some practice, but it's worth it.
  5. 5
    Make excuses. If your juggling act includes speaking, and especially if it includes clowning, a drop is a great opportunity to poke fun at yourself and elicit a laugh. An excuse can entertain your audience until you get back into your routine. The more far-fetched or outrageous the "excuse", the better.
    • Stare at the dropped object as though it had suddenly appeared there and you don't know why, or as though you are angry with it for falling.
    • Blame "a sudden gust of gravity!" or simply observe, "Ah, gravity works!"
    • "Oops, I almost dropped something there! Good thing I didn't!" An obvious flat-out lie often gets a laugh.
    • "I dropped that to make the next trick look harder, you see."
    • "I think floor-juggling is about to catch on."
      Crouch down and start "juggling" the other props along with the dropped object by shuffling them around on the floor, as though you meant to do that. Be sure to include a guilty smile.
    • "You can do a better job? Go ahead!"
      Involve (or blame) the audience. "Stop looking at me!" "It works when nobody's watching!" "What are you laughing at?" "Oh, yeah, let's see you do it!"
    • If the audience seemed to like that you dropped, say, "So you like that? I could drop this one, too."
  6. 6
    Show confidence and get back into your routine.
    • Your audience will see what you're feeling.
    • No.
      Recover quickly without dwelling on it. Don't project or emphasize your error unless it's part of your act to do so.
    • Don't lose intensity or focus.
    • Keep in character, whatever your character may be.
    • Get back into your routine, strongly, quickly, and confidently.
  7. 7
    Offer to teach hecklers to juggle. Either they'll clam up quickly or they'll be busy for awhile.


  • Although this article is aimed at jugglers, similar techniques can apply to recovering from many different errors, in other acts as well as in life in general.
  • Have alternatives in mind. If you feel like you are having an off day or can't quite turn in a masterpiece at the moment, could you do your act with fewer props or do a simpler version of a particular trick?

Sources and Citations

  • Thanks to Luís Alfonso Zavala, aka Funny Fonzie, for posing for all the photos and for input on the article contents.

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