When I discovered all the benefits of learning to juggle, I had to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. It’s great fun and feels wonderful to conquer each baby step along the way. I’m in it for the long haul and I’m inviting you to join me.
Here’s the YouTube video of the speech I gave at a recent Toastmasters International meeting. I messed up, forgot where I was in the middle of the speech. I didn’t edit it out because making mistakes is part of the process and we can’t let it stop it us from continuing on. And, yes, I felt pretty awkward and stupid at the time, but then pulled myself together.
For those of you who aren’t able to view the video, here’s the text from the speech:
Do you know how to juggle?
Learning to juggle is one of the best things you can do for your brain.
It makes you smarter. Juggling is good for all ages. According to the January 2004 issue of Nature magazine, juggling increases gray matter. Just practicing the movements improves your brain and coordination even before you succeed.
The process of learning to juggle exercises your brain and your muscles at the same time. It’s a fun workout that’s amusing and rewarding, plus it reduces stress and anxiety. Some studies claim it may even prevent Alzheimer’s.
Tonight I’m going to teach you how to get started on your juggling journey. If you have children, you might want to teach them, too. It can help their developing brains.
Obviously, you need props to juggle. You can use scarves, balls, bean bags, socks filled with beans or rice, or something similar. Chain saws and flaming torches aren’t good choices, at least for beginners.
I’m a beginner so I picked bean bags because they don’t roll when I drop them. Plus, they’re adorable. How about a hand for Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch?
I want to teach my grandkids how to juggle, but preschoolers are too young. However, bean bags are great for them to practice catching, throwing, and tossing into a bucket.
For my two-year-old granddaughters, just passing the beanbag from one hand to the other is good, or cupping it with two hands and barely tossing it upwards an inch or two.
When you first learn to juggle, you’re going to drop the props. A lot. This is hard for some children, like my three-year-old grandson. At first, he got mad every time he fumbled, but dropping is part of the process.
To avoid frustration, say a funny word or expression. Grandson doesn’t get upset anymore when he drops the beanbag. Instead, we smile or giggle.
Make a silly face to add humor and turn those giggles into full-blown laughter.
Keep practicing. Odds are you’ll eventually catch the beanbag.
For older kids and adults, you’re going to start with one prop. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Bend your arms, keeping your elbows near your waist, not outstretched in front of you and not out at your sides.
Now imagine an invisible rectangle about here.
To start, throw Prop 1 from Point A upwards at about forehead level, targeting the opposite corner, Point B.
Next, throw the same prop to the other hand, aiming for the top opposite corner of the imaginary rectangle.
Practice tossing the beanbag from one hand to the other, over and over again until you get the hang of it. Keep your eyes focused slightly upward where the beanbag arcs. Don’t look down or you’ll mess up.
Now you’re ready for two props.
Leading off with your dominant hand, throw Prop 1 to Point B and then release Prop 2, aiming for Point D. Notice the blue arrows. I find that counting helps me get the timing right. Unless you’re ambidextrous, you’ll need to practice leading off with your dominant hand over and over until your throws and catches are consistent.
Then move on to leading off with your other hand. It will be awkward at first. My left hand is a loose cannon. The tosses are wild and can end up anywhere. Get ready to duck! This is why practicing in a hallway is good. It saves you a trek across the room chasing a runaway prop.
If you get tired of bending and stooping to retrieve, you can stand in front of a table or bed.
Or, if you’re barefooted and have prehensile feet, use your toes to pick up wayward props.
When you’re good at leading off with your non-dominant hand, practice alternating leading with both hands. Once you get this down, you’re ready for three bean bags.
My club liked the speech even though I messed up. Best Speech and Best Time!
Practicing ten to 15 minutes a day will pay off. There might be bad days. Juggling definitely has its ups and downs.
You have the benefit of learning from my mistakes. This is how you should move your hands and arms.
Here’s one of my bad days. Notice how my hands are all over the place. (See video clip.)
Don’t let a bad day stop you. Keep trying.
That was recorded about a month ago. Here’s what practicing ten minutes a day can do. This is the three-ball cascade. (See video.)
I’ve watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and incorporated the various tips and techniques that seem to work for me. I hope they work for you.
One instructor said the youngest age a student learned to juggle was six years old and the oldest student was 80. Some people can learn in an hour or so. Others take years.
I first started four months ago, but practicing a few minutes a week didn’t cut it. Again, devote ten to 15 minutes a day and you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make.
Once you master the three-ball cascade, you’re not finished. In order to continue building your brain, you need to constantly be learning something new.
That’s what’s so great about juggling. There are so many varied routines to learn that you’ll never run out of new challenges.
Try juggling standing on one foot. Two bean bags with one hand. How about a four-ball cascade? Then five, six, or more. The world record is 11 balls for 23 consecutive catches.
Throw one ball behind your back or move on to throwing more difficult objects. No, not chain saws, but rubber chickens would be a kick.
For a better workout, there are one-pound juggling balls. If you like to run, you can become a joggler. I kid you not. Jogglers are joggers who juggle or jugglers who jog. How impressive is that?
Keep your brain and body fit. Be creative. Have fun and enjoy your juggling journey!
This guy is amazing. He not only juggles while jogging, but also while swimming and riding a bike. Wow!
Did I convince you to give juggling a shot, or do you already know how to juggle? Are you learning something new right now? What are you working on? Do you think that triathlon juggling video is awesome?