The best tutorials to get you started

For my money, Tony Steinbach’s “learn to juggle” tutorial is the best introduction to the skill.  He troubleshoots the common problems, gives solid advice about form, and is entertaining the whole time. Even better is that he gives you an idea of the next steps after mastering the three ball cascade.  If you’re interested in learning to juggle, I’d start here.

Per and Nathan present “YOU can Juggle!” – This is a wonderful breakdown of juggling technique, brilliantly presented, and an extremely entertaining video in its own right.  It was submitted to the International Jugglers’ Association Video Tutorial Contest several years ago.  (More on that contest down below!)

Niels Duinker is a professional juggler from the Netherlands who produced a number of high production value tutorials a few years ago.  This tutorial is clean and gives a good overview, but doesn’t hit on all of the points that Tony does.  Both are absolutely solid choices to get you started, though.

My pal Sam Malcolm, a great juggler and stand up comedian, published this tutorial recently.  Perhaps more entertaining than educational, it’s definitely worth a watch.

The next steps

There are a lot of juggling tutorials out there – all you’ve got to do is search for them!  YouTube and Juggling.TV are fantastic resources to learn new skills.

I run an annual tutorial contest for the International Jugglers’ Association, which has produced hundreds of hours of instructional content.  You can check out past entries to the contest and see if something appeals – tricks range from the basic cascade all the way to more complicated tricks with five clubs and more.  All past entries are neatly organized by year on the IJAvideo YouTube channel here.  If you’re interested in competing in the next event, you can find more information here.  It has a month-long entry period, usually in the fall.

The Library of Juggling isn’t a pretty site, but it’s got around 100 juggling patterns, animated, annotated, and broken down for easy learning.  This is a wonderful resource to learn a lot of patterns – for both beginners and more advanced jugglers.

Books and other resources

I learned to juggle from a book from the library when I was ten years old.  It might seem dated in a world of streaming video and online forums, but there’s a lot to be said about learning old-school.

Dave Finnigan’s “The Complete Juggler” is the bible of juggling basics.  It covers everything – from balls to clubs, diabolos and devilsticks, hats and cigar boxes.  This book covers the basics for each prop, teaches you the next several steps, and is a wonderful resource when you’re just starting out.

Kit Summers’ “Juggling with Finesse” is another valuable addition to your juggling library.  Kit was a rockstar juggler in his day – one of the best technical jugglers of the 80s and 90s.  This book focuses more on technique for those serious about improving quickly.

Charlie Dancey’s books “Encyclopedia of Ball Juggling” and “Compendium of Club Juggling” are two excellent titles that cover almost every variation with balls and clubs. Complicated weaving patterns, classics like the box and a two finger flourish… all of that’s in here, along with hundreds of other tricks.  These are absolute can’t-miss books for any juggler.

If you’re learning to juggle, you might be interested in the history of juggling.  Many books on the subject were limited printings and have big collector’s value (Looking at you, 4,000 Years of Juggling… that two volume set usually goes for $750+!)  However!  There’s an excellent book by Renegade Juggling that talks about stars of the past.

It’s called “Virtuosos of Juggling” – It’s well-researched, beautifully written, and includes hundreds of great photos.  Definitely worth the price – but Renegade will give you a copy for free if you order four or more clubs from them and ask for the book.  If you order from them, don’t forget!

Note – Amazon links are affiliate – a portion of your sale goes to support the American Youth Circus Organization.

What props do you need?

The most common juggling props are balls, clubs, and rings.  So we’ll talk about those.

Everyone has their own preferences, and you’ll discover your own as you move along.  The best way to test out a bunch of different props is by going to a local juggling club or juggling festival (if you look it up, you might be surprised to find one near you!)  Barring that, though, here are my recommendations.

One thing to remember when buying props online is that they’re often sold per unit unless otherwise specified.  Be sure to check the quantity before you order!  Nothing is worse than waiting by the mailbox, only to discover you accidentally ordered a single juggling club.

There are many, many, many different kinds of juggling balls out there.  Of those options, this is one of them.  Play is an Italian company that produces a wide range of products, one of which is the MMX Ball.  It’s a cross between a beanbag and a stage ball – basically, it’s a beanbag that’s got a soft rubber shell around it.  They’re easy to clean, last forever, and look great in the air.  I’m a big fan of this ball.

Henrys is a German company that makes outstanding juggling clubs.  The “Delphin” model is one of the juggling world’s favorites, and with good reason – it’s durable, inexpensive, and comes in a variety of colors.

When it comes to rings, Swiss manufacturer Mr. Babache is king.  It sounds silly, right?  That one plastic hoop could be better than another?  These are the best out there.

Note – Amazon links are affiliate – a portion of your sale goes to support the American Youth Circus Organization.

What about knives and torches?

…you should probably learn to juggle clubs first.

That said, I dig the knives made by Three Finger Juggling and Henry’s Nite Flite torches.

Make your own russian juggling balls

In 1971, Mikhail Rudenko changed juggling forever with a simple concept – a plastic shell, partly filled with sand.

This is now one of the most popular styles of juggling balls – it’s inexpensive, you can make it yourself, and they last a long time.  There are several tutorials on how to make these balls online – Phil Thompson’s is one of the best.

Other places to buy props

There’s a big world of props outside of these suggestions – I encourage you to look around and see what speaks to you.

Brontosaurus Balls

Renegade Juggling

GBallz

Sport Juggling Company

Neon Husky

Play Juggling

BagLady

Three Finger Juggling

Pass the Props

Flow Toys

Oddballs (UK)

JuggleArt (AUS)

Find jugglers near you

There are juggling clubs and events that happen all around the world – really – there might even be one meeting in your town tonight!  Clubs are generally free to attend, and conventions have a small ticket to get in.  Go meet your new best friends!

The most comprehensive listing of both clubs and events is at the Juggling Edge.

Online forums

There are many forums about juggling online.  Here are some of the most active ones.

/r/juggling

Juggling Rock

Juggling Edge

Coaching, etc

Of course, the best way to get better at juggling is working with friends.  Local juggling clubs are a great place to get an outside eye on what you’re doing, and a place for more experienced jugglers to help you with the next steps as you improve.

If you don’t have a local juggling club, posting training clips to forums like /r/juggling and Juggling Rock are a great way to get feedback.

There are also circus studios across the US and around the world where jugglers offer private lessons – if you’re looking to get serious, this would be a good way to improve quickly.  The American Youth Circus Organization and the American Circus Educators have a directory online that’s worth looking at if you’re interested.

Beyond Three Balls

“…wait a second!  I want to learn the hard stuff!”  you shout, as you reach the end of this page, “I’ve already mastered three balls – how do I learn four or five?  What about complicated patterns with more objects?!”

Well, grasshopper, here are a few extra resources for you.

Since you made it this far, I’ll share this page with you.  I teach workshops when I’m not on tour, and give handouts with the course material.  Here, you’ll find a collection of four ball tricks, tips for learning five balls, as well as some other odds and ends.

Here’s the gist of what you need to work on, if you’re looking to advance:

Balance  – Work on finding the center line in everything you do.  Work on balancing a dowel, then cutting off a length the more control you get.

Throw Higher – You’re probably not throwing high enough.  Work on controlling your height and placement without relying on hand speed.

Learn Siteswap Notation – This language blew juggling wide open in the late 80s.  When you learn the relationship between heights, you’ll get a better understanding of juggling as a whole.

Practice whatever makes you Happy – Sure, there’s a time and a place for technique.  You’ll learn more and progress more quickly if you’re working on something you genuinely enjoy.  If you plan on performing, your joy will transmit to the audience.  Noone wants to see a sad juggler!

As always, feel free to contact me directly.  Good luck, and happy practice!