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Picture of How to Juggle: the 3-ball cascade
Someone recently requested an Instructable on how to juggle, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to put up my first instructable.

This is a basic 3-ball cascade, the most basic 3-ball juggling pattern there is. If there is enough interest, I might post further patterns and tricks as people request them. You can also buy all kinds of juggling books which will guide you through these, but those cost money and most of us here are cheapskates. At least, I know I am.

I decided to use animated gifs on this to get the point across clearly and without distraction. All animations in this instructable were created using the Pivot stick-figure animator

Here's what you'll need:

1. 3 objects - preferably bean bags, but anything fairly spherical would work. I would recommend something with minimal bounce or roll, as you'll probably be doing a lot of chasing when you first start. For some good, sturdy, cheap bean bags, check out these.
2. A little space - Don't try to learn this in a phone booth. Chances are that you'll have smallish spherical objects bouncing off of walls at some point in this process, so you should move away from your grandmother's knick-knack shelves before proceeding.
3. Comfortable clothes - likewise, constrictive clothing will make your arm movements less fluid.
4. Some time - I learned to juggle 4 balls between classes at community college. I would hurry to my next class then stand in the hall juggling for 7 minutes before taking my seat.

Step 1: The Toss

Picture of The Toss
This is the simplest step from the observational stand point, but it is very important developmentally. You want to practice tossing a single ball back and forth from hand to hand, making sure that your tosses are even.

Ideally, the tosses should fly in such a way that your hands will make small, circular movements as you toss and catch.

Plant your feet about hip width apart so you have plenty of movement potential. This is a good habit to get in, since some juggling tricks require a reasonable amount of bending, so you want to work on staying balanced.

In most cases, your shoulders should be relaxed, and your elbows about waist height, and bent about 90 degrees in the resting position. If your hands are rising above the height of your chest, you're probably putting a little too much effort into it.

As you toss, keep your eyes fixed on a single spot directly in front of you, and relax your focus. Try to keep the ball in your peripheral vision as it moves. This will become increasingly important as you add more balls later.

For the purposes of three balls, each toss should probably not go above your head height (for now).

Keep practicing this until you can go back and forth 30 times without dropping.

It may be useful to watch a video that explains the same thing:

eschmemma6 years ago
When learning, it can be useful to use silk scarves or tissues instead of balls - no chasing because they can't roll away, and they float, so you have more time to catch them, and focus on your technique.
Llama Nerds (author)  eschmemma6 years ago
You know, I have had many people recommend this, and I have never been able to do the scarf juggling thing. I find the technique and timing so very different from juggling anything with inertia. I always feel like I'm having to move my arms way to much to get the scarves to go anywhere, whereas with normal juggling you want to minimize the movement of your arms and put more of the motion in your wrists.

That being said, if using scarves helps you to get the pattern down, or in any other way helps you in your pursuit of juggling prowess, then by all means knock yourself out!

Also, it's entirely possible I never properly learned how to juggle scarves :)
Good point about moving your arms a lot more - I learnt with scarves originally and never managed with anything else - maybe that's my problem. Cheers!
peterbone7 years ago
Pivot and juggling! :-) Here's one I made.
jamiec539 years ago
I basically taught myself how to juggle three balls (started with tennis balls) and this would have helped a lot!

However recently, I got a set of five juggling balls and I just can't figure out how it works. :( Could someone post an instructable breaking five-ball juggling down into easy steps? Thanks.
Llama Nerds (author)  jamiec539 years ago
I'll have to see if I can work out time to write this. I know the theory, it's really just a matter of practicing and practicing and practicing, ad nauseum, until your throws are really consistent. 
daninja10 years ago
behind your back or between your legs? I saw a guy in the circus-like show Saltimbonco do that!
Llama Nerds (author)  daninja9 years ago
The nice thing about the 3-ball cascade is how easy it is to vary. Under throws, over throws, under the leg, behind the back, etc. are all easy to work in with fairly little practice. 
whhoooohoooo pivot FTW!
jabapyth10 years ago
nice work with the animations :)
ryp_2611 years ago
Thanks man now i can juggle like a pro
damasta11 years ago
yesterday I was doing a cascade when all of a sudden I started showering, without even knowing I could do that
Llama Nerds (author)  damasta11 years ago
Sweet! I remember taking severa days to learn to make that switch and back. I was running spotlight for a community college stage production at the time, so I had some good free time to practice. Even now I can only go counter-clockwise (heh, almost left the 'L' out of that word) with any proficiency.
I_am_Canadian11 years ago
should i post a instructable on basic tricks w/3 balls? btw good instructable
Doveman11 years ago
I like to use racket bals to juggle.
jugglingman11 years ago
Nice instructions! If you're still struggling and would like more detail, support, and/or a more gradual method, please go here:

Enjoy juggling! Don't struggle...juggle!

StepsoftheSun12 years ago
Got it! Though the picture doesn't prove it, I can now juggle. Yes! Nice instructions!
SeaSkyShore12 years ago
Thanks for the info! I had a huge problem with 'Joggling' but it has gotten much better since I have started using the wall trick. My knuckles are a little sore, but absolutely worth it!
the program used to make the animation is pivot animator?? right??
jak06 Zathereus12 years ago
It looks like pivot Peter sent me the beta of version 3 Just mail him
wow this is sooo not original this is from "how to juggle for dummies" (i have the book) is lists the same exact steps and pretty much the same words
Llama Nerds (author)  ich bin ein pyro12 years ago
guess where I learned to juggle :-)
the book?
Llama Nerds (author)  ich bin ein pyro12 years ago
almost. I learned from the Klutz book of juggling. I think this is in every book on how to juggle three balls ever printed. Maybe because (gasp) this is the best way to learn.
One thing many people dont know is that when juggling with 3 balls only 1 ball is in the air at a time, its an illusion.
Incorrect. After throwing a ball your hand will be empty and there are two balls in the air. Coordinating this (short) moment is the difficult thing in juggling.
All right you got me, I do know how to juggle btw (only with 3 balls)
But juggling is an illusion, when done properly.
I was wrong 2 balls are in the air for a millionth of a second, my bad
hatsuli12 years ago
Excellent animations, I gave you a +.
dibber12 years ago
I like your animations. I give you a "+"
erfonz12 years ago
I taught myself and now I pass torches in the circus. Not even kidding.
kudoskun12 years ago
I actually taught myself from what I observed others did, but this would have helped alot! kudos, kudos
PetervG12 years ago
Thanks, when I try to juggle (I can't) I always just do the juggling. Now I know some new things I could practice.
Llama Nerds (author) 12 years ago
Please leave me some feedback! It's my first instructable, and I'd love to know how it comes across.