How to Practice Juggling Without Getting Frustrated

Practicing Juggling

Gandini Juggling – photo credit: Dani Alvarez

Dropping is probably the most frustrating aspect of practicing juggling for a beginner. It seems like you spend more time picking balls up off the floor than you do keeping them in the air. As you improve you’ll find that you don’t mind dropping so much but until you get to that point a few drops can stop you from wanting to practice juggling. But there are some simple things you can do to stop yourself getting frustrated and to keep your juggling practice interesting, entertaining and enjoyable for you.

Six things to stop you getting frustrated practicing juggling

1. Know you can do it

Whether you’re starting to learn 3-ball juggling or you’re practising your 5-ball reverse cascade remember that you can do it. You just haven’t learned it yet. Whatever trick you’re working on is just a matter of practice. There will be drops along the way. There could easily be 1000 drops or more if you’re learning a difficult 5-ball pattern. Don’t worry about the drops; they happen. Each drop you make gets you one step closer to mastering the trick.

2. Choose where you practice

Where to practice juggling

Photo credit: Criss Cross Circus!

Not every place is created equal; some places are better for practicing juggling than others. Some people like to practice outdoors (weather permitting), some indoors. Some people find a park enjoyable, while others find they get distracted by other people or activities, or are uncomfortable and self-conscious being watched.

Find a place that works for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s your bedroom, your garden, a park, a badminton court or anywhere else as long as you feel comfortable practicing juggling there and can focus without distraction.

3. Play a Game

To make your practice more interesting try playing a game. There are lots of games, challenges and practice methods that are used by professional and recreational jugglers. Here’s one you can try:

Beat the Ghost Juggler

In this game, you’re playing against yourself. First you’ll need to decide what you’re practicing and what a successful execution would be – it could be as simple as three catches of 3 balls if you’re a beginner, 20 catches of a 5-ball cascade if you’re more advanced, or maybe successfully changing from one pattern to another.

Once you’ve chosen what you’re practicing, attempt to execute your pattern/trick. You get a point every time you successfully execute your move and you lose a point every time you drop. When you get to 5 points you win but if you get to -5 points you lose.

If you can beat the ghost 3 times in a row, increase the difficulty.

4. Make Dropping Less Annoying

As we’ve already said, dropping is inevitable – but it can be less annoying. A simple way to minimise the time you spend picking up dropped objects is to stand in front of your bed or sofa. This won’t make you a better juggler but at least now you won’t have to bend down to pick up anymore!

Also, make sure you’re using thuds or bean bags rather than stage or bouncing balls so they don’t all roll (or bounce and scatter) away when you drop. If you like juggling with stage balls or bouncing balls, consider learning new tricks with thuds and then moving on to the harder balls once you’re getting the hang of it.

5. Practice Patience

Keep calm practicing juggling

Patience is a virtue but it’s not something’s you’re born with (or without). Patience is something that you can practice just like your juggling. If you find yourself getting annoyed when it’s not working, stop for a moment, take a breath, remember that you can do it and that you’re now a few drops closer to success than you were before. Making a mistake isn’t a problem but getting annoyed at yourself for making one can be. Practice being patient and forgiving of yourself.

6. Take a Break

If you start to get frustrated, you can’t find a way to make it fun, and you just can’t be patient any longer, take a break. It doesn’t have to be a complete break; it could just be a break from that pattern. Practice a different trick for a while, or decrease the difficulty and practice a preparation again. And if all else fails, stop. Have a rest and clear your head.

I used to find that I’d forget to eat while practicing juggling. I’d get worse and worse (drop more and get annoyed about it) until I realised I was hungry. If I stopped and had some food, I’d be ready to juggle again almost immediately.

Have you found other ways to stop yourself getting frustrated while practicing juggling? Share them in the comments below.