How to Teach Juggling

A wise juggler once said that nobody ever teaches someone how to juggle; they simply show someone how to teach themselves. The role of the teacher then is more to encourage than to instruct. Still, by breaking things down into the simplest process, you can set someone up for success.

The method will change based on who you are teaching (young or old, athletic or otherwise) and how many people you are teaching (one on one, a small group or a whole class), but the basics will stay the same.


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    Choose the right object. Using the right juggling ball makes all the difference when you're getting started. Using a solid ball will frustrate the student because it will roll away when they drop. Similarly, a ball that bounces can be mayhem for the beginner. For this reason, choose a beanbag or beanball that will stay put when it is dropped.
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    Start with one object. Your student might be disappointed by this since there's no fun in simply throwing an object from one hand to the other, but it will help to remind him or her that when juggling three balls, you are actually only throwing one ball at a time, while holding the other two.
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    Focus on proper technique.
    • The ball should pop off your student's hand rather than rolling off their fingertips. Watch the ball as it flies from one hand to the other. If it is spinning, your student is throwing incorrectly.
    • When juggling balls, they don't simply travel back and forth in the same arc. They travel in a figure-8 pattern, with the hand carrying them from outside to inside. If they traveled in the same arc, they would hit each other.
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    Focus on consistency. Still only using one ball, encourage your student to toss back and forth and to keep the ball on a plane in front of him or her. Your student should not have to reach out or in to make a catch.
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    Focus on form. The hands should remain level, slightly above the beltline. The elbows should be bent 90 degrees. The throw should come from the forearm and not the wrist, so encourage your student to keep their wrists locked.
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    Add the second ball. This is the most important step, as you will now be teaching the exchange. This is the nearly simultaneous catch and throw that is at the foundation of juggling. Have your student start with one ball in each hand. Throw from the weak hand (left if right handed, right if left handed) and as the throw begins to come down toward the opposing hand, toss the second ball.
    • If done correctly, the hand motion for the throw should leave the palm in perfect position to catch the first ball. The second throw should sweep under the first.
    • Most people already know how to catch. Now is the time to work on getting the throw under control. If someone is particularly timid about their ability to catch, especially as they begin to learn the exchange, encourage them to practice the throws while letting the balls drop to the ground.
    • Both balls should remain in the same plane. The second ball should pass underneath the first.
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    Practice. At this point your student will be eager to move on and get to the three ball juggle, but you should encourage them to work on the two ball exchange until every throw is going to about the same height.
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    Switch hands. Juggling is an ambidextrous skill, so as soon as your student gets the exchange down with their strong hand, have them switch to the other hand. Your student will still be using only two balls, but will make the first throw with their strong hand and the exchange with the weak hand.
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    Add the third ball. Once the student is exchanging the ball well with both hands, they are ready to take the next step. Pat your student on the back and tell them that they've already learned to juggle. They might doubt that since they still haven't added the third ball yet, but the hardest part is over.
    • Have your student start with one ball in their weak hand and two in their strong hand.
    • Begin with a single throw from the strong hand and then make one exchange after the other.
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    Practice some more. There is no substitute for repetition. This is where the skill of the teacher is really tested. Most students will give up before they master this basic pattern, but with plenty of encouragement and corrective advice, you can make all the difference.


  • Practice juggling over a bed. It discourages traveling forward and there's less distance to reach to pick up the drops.
  • Remind your student early and often that dropping is all a part of learning.
  • When teaching younger kids, it is often best to start with scarves rather than balls. Scarves move much slower and give the student more time to adjust to a bad throw or catch.
  • The biggest problem new jugglers have is what is known as the "Jogging Juggler" syndrome. Each throw goes forward a little bit so they find themselves chasing after an increasingly chaotic pattern. Tell your student to practice in front of a wall with about a foot between their knuckles and the plaster and this will solve the problem quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Juggling balls, scarves, etc.

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