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Juggling is the act of defying gravity by throwing, tossing or otherwise moving various objects. It is usually done with the hands, although other parts of the body may come into play.

"Juggling is throwing, catching and -- most of all -- dropping," jokes Toby Donaldson, a juggling enthusiast.

There are actually many different kinds of juggling. Some of the variations include:

Tossing   -- This is the kind of juggling most people are familiar with. You toss three or more objects back and forth between your hands, using different patterns.

Contact Juggling   -- In this kind of juggling, a ball is rolled back and forth across parts of the body like the arms, hands and face. If you saw the movie Labyrinth and remember the crystal balls, you'll know what contact juggling is.

Devil Sticks   -- To do this trick, you take one long stick that is slightly weighted at both ends and bat and spin it around with two smaller sticks.

Diablos   -- These look like rather big yo-yos without a string. You can spin, toss and bounce them.

Whips and Fire Eating   -- These are not for the amateur and are classified by jugglers as "circus acts." Some people also juggle flaming torches while doing fire-eating tricks.

Because so many people practice some kind of juggling, usually away from prying eyes, it's tough to estimate the number of individuals involved in this kind of recreation. People do seem to feel that more folks are doing it than you may think.

"I'm still occasionally surprised by the number of people I know who do juggle to some extent," says Elizabeth Kornya. "I would say much of its popularity comes from the fact that even the simplest juggling move looks impressive, especially to the untrained eye, and it's fairly easy to pick up the basic skills."

Getting Started

Starting to juggle is quite easy. You can pick up the basic moves by watching TV performers or by reading books. You can also get help from your local juggling club.

Juggling can be done just about anywhere, indoors or outside, with a few exceptions. "You can juggle anywhere you feel happy doing it. Winds make it difficult; cold weather makes it painful," says Lindsay Davies, a juggler from Sheffield, England.

Seasoned jugglers also note that while juggling inside is best, it can be rather hazardous to your furniture, so keep your precious antiques out of harm's way.

The cost of getting started is really nothing at all -- if you're willing to raid the laundry basket, a toy box or the fridge for materials. "It's pretty easy to find stuff to juggle," says Donaldson. "Balled-up socks, tennis balls, Lego bricks, oranges and apples -- are all adequate for juggling."

Once you're a bit more advanced, it's likely you'll want some more professional-looking props, and that will cost you.

"There is lots of special equipment you can buy, and most of it is expensive," says Donaldson.

"My bean bags cost $8 each, and the price has gone up since I bought them. Clubs and pins cost anywhere from $40 to $100 each. Silicon balls, which are the best juggling balls, cost about $45 each -- and you'll need at least five."

There aren't really that many physical demands to juggling. Physical coordination and dexterity are helpful, but not required. In most cases, a physically challenged individual could find a style of juggling that suits them.

You can't really injure yourself too badly while juggling. Bruises are probably the most common injury, although that's not taking into account those who work with whips or flaming torches.

To get started, you really only need some small objects that you can handle and a bit of space.

Juggling clubs are a great source of help, support and new trick ideas. If there is a university or college near you, it's likely to have a club. Contact them for more information on clubs that might be in your area. If all else fails, start your own!


Rochester Juggling Club
Room 209 Pittford Recreation Center
35 Lincoln Ave.
Pittsford , NY   14534-1998


Juggler's World


Juggling Five Balls
Tips and tricks

Juggling Information Service
A complete list of North American juggling clubs

Juggling Books
A list of links to different publications

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