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How Contact Juggling Works

Getting Started in Contact Juggling

The good thing about contact juggling is that it doesn't cost a lot of money to try out. All you need are some balls. Actually, just one ball is fine to start with. Although many professionals favor acrylic balls, those are among the priciest to get. They're also hard and roll away easily, meaning you'll get hurt when you drop them, then spend a lot of time chasing after them when they subsequently roll away. (They'll also get scratched!) So it's best to start with an orange or a stage ball. Make sure whatever you select is firm and smooth. A squishy ball or object won't do, and a tennis ball is too small [source: Juggling World].

Now you're ready to try a few moves. Perhaps the simplest is the two-ball palm-spin. All you do is place two balls in the palm of one hand, then move them both in the same direction. Hint: It helps to have a flat palm; don't curl your fingers. Start with a clockwise motion and move to counter-clockwise if you master it quickly [source: Arlabosse Didier].

Another basic move, and possibly the most essential in contact juggling, is the butterfly. This trick involves placing the ball on the backof your hand, then rolling it to your fingertips and into your palm. Your middle finger guides the ball during this move, while your hand makes a wave-like motion to help it along [source: Juggling World].

Keep in mind that even the most basic contact juggling moves take time to perfect, so don't get discouraged if you can't master them after a few days, or even weeks, of dedicated practice. You'll drop your ball(s) a lot, too, so don't let that get you down. In fact, many contact jugglers prefer to practice standing over a bed, couch or similar surface so that when their ball drops, it hits a soft surface (not their toes!) and can't roll too far away. Another popular option: practicing while seated.

If you're a visual person, take advantage of the wealth of instructional videos online. And don't hesitate to track down a fellow contact juggler and ask for assistance. The contact juggling community is a friendly and close-knit one.