At a friend’s party one recent weekend, I was chatting with the host and said ‘Hey, nice balls.’ Of course I was referring to his juggling balls, and a light flickered on as I spied another hobby to add to the pursuit.
The best learning tools would be actual juggling balls – like mini-me bean bags you can pick up anywhere online or here in Camden for juggling fanatics. Alternatively if you can find 3 similar-sized potatoes/oranges/babies, I think you could manage.As part of my hobby trial, I convinced a juggling friend (the one whose balls I had initially shown an interest in) to accompany me to a juggling club held by Odd Balls in Camden, every Wednesday at 7pm. At just £3.50 (with free cake), it’s one of the cheapest hobbies to date, and aspiring jugglers can find other circus freaks (and free equipment to span out with) to broaden their skills. As you’d expect, these aren’t the cool kids Psy sings about. Little bit geeky, happy to help if pressed but not quite the friendly, chatty atmosphere I was hoping for. Maybe due to the serious lack of knives and unicycles.
Step 1: Take one of the balls and practice throwing from one hand to the other in a lop-sided arc at eye level. Do this to get used to the weight of the ball, how much effort is needed to throw and catch it.
Step 2: Take another ball, with one in each hand. Throw from your right hand to your left (unless you’re a leftie), and just before the ball lands, launch the other ball to your right hand and catch both. Practice this a few times until both balls are roughly arching in front of your eyes.
Step 3: Take a third ball and begin with two in your right hand and one in your left. Launch one from your right, launching another from your left, catch the first ball in your left hand, launch the final ball from your right hand just before catching the second ball. Catch the third ball in your left hand, ending with two in the left, one in the right.
Once you’ve mastered Step 3, you’re essentially juggling, so keep throwing for as long as you can. This may take some time to get a rally going – don’t get disheartened as, as a hobby, it’s relatively quick to learn.
- It’s best practicing step 3 and beyond against a couch. This limited space allowed me to focus my throws better, and when I dropped balls (which was frequent), there was less bending down to retrieve them.
- I also found if I tried to keep my elbows by my sides, I limited the erratic span of the throws and could then grab a ball that went astray.
- Rather than looking at your hands, look straight-ahead allowing your eyes to track the path of the balls and message your hands if you need to lash out and grab something.
I began on Sunday and mastered four throws comfortably in the first session. I’m a fair distance from juggling fire and small babies, but I didn’t realise it was something you could pick up a ‘sociable level’ of so quickly.
Interesting fact; juggling is one of the few activities one can do that actually increases the size of your brain. Mind blown. Or at least expanded. So what are you waiting for?
Want to find your nearest juggling club? Have a look over here for a list of them dotted around London.