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 Published Saturday, July 1, 2000

How to juggle

Here are some tips on how to begin juggling:

  • Hold two balls, one in each hand, palms up, forearms parallel to the floor. Used tennis balls are OK, but if you feel like spending a few dollars, those little soft soccer training balls are better. They don't bounce, so you don't spend a lot of time digging them out from under the furniture.

  • Begin tossing the balls from hand to hand, throwing one under the other in a figure-8 motion, changing directions with enough frequency to keep from becoming bored or locked into a pattern. Focus on the arcs made by the balls rather than on the balls themselves. Use the same hand to start the throw each time, then switch to the other one. When you feel you have the hang of it, you're ready to tackle the "three-ball cascade."

  • Add another ball. Hold two balls in one hand and one in the other. With a little relaxed throw, exchange the single ball for one of the two in the opposite hand. Then stop. Repeat. Throw, stop. Throw, stop. Count in cadence if you wish (one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four), speeding up the move as you become comfortable with the routine, and shuttling the balls so that all three are employed.

  • Now shift the two balls to the hand that had held one, with the single one in the other. Repeat the procedure, but from the opposite direction: throw, stop, throw, stop. One, two, three, four, etc. This will present a little more difficulty, because now you're leading with the 'subordinate' hand, sort of like throwing a baseball with your left hand if you are right-handed. You are now actually juggling, but doing it in a somewhat stilted manner. All that is left is for the routine to be speeded up and smoothed out. Toss the balls a little higher, using the fingers of the throwing hand, and catch them in the "nest" of the receiver -- the index, middle and ring fingers, with the thumb and little finger acting as side supports.

  • Add extra balls as you become proficient, adjusting the height of the throw to give you more time to catch. Experiment with other props, teach a friend (a good way to improve your skills), and you might discover a new avocation.

    -- Washington Post

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