The Juggling Hoffmans

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Archive for the tag “learn to juggle”

Juggling 4 balls – basic variations

It’s toooooooooooooo hot to go outside today on the East Coast. Stay inside and learn some new tricks. Check out this video on learning 4 ball juggling variations. Haven’t learned to juggle 4 balls yet? Check out our other 4 ball juggling tutorial.

Let us know how you do!


How to juggle 4 balls

We encounter lots of people that can juggle 3 balls, but can’t figure out how to add that extra ball into the pattern. Challenge yourself and learn to juggle 4 balls this summer. Check out this video then let us know how you do.

World Juggling Day

The Juggling HoffmansOn June 15th, 2013, thousands of people around the world will join the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) in celebrating World Juggling Day.

World Juggling Day is an annual event that aims to spread the joy of juggling to all reaches of the globe.  Over 40 countries have confirmed participation in the 2013 World Juggling Day celebrations.  Events will range from small gatherings of 2-3 people to large festivals attended by hundreds of jugglers.

This year, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is partnering with the IJA to celebrate this ancient art by hosting World Juggling Day events at more than a dozen of its Odditoriums around the world. 

Thanks to the power of social media and the partnership with the Ripley’s corporation, the 2013 event is shaping up to be the largest and most widespread World Juggling Day celebration in history.

“From Hong Kong to Costa Rica, Russia to Australia, the USA to Afghanistan, jugglers are eager and excited to unite in celebration of World Juggling Day,” said Erin Stephens, IJA International Coordinator.  “The IJA is impressed to witness how the common passion for juggling allows people to cross all racial, political, and religious divides in order to unite with a common vision of JOY.”

Whether a novice juggler or a professional entertainer, ALL are invited to join in the celebration of World Juggling Day!
In New Castle County, join local jugglers on Saturday, June 15th at Glasgow Park, Rts 40 and 896, from 10am-12pm. Learn to juggle or just watch other jugglers. Juggling props will be available to use.

 To watch the IJA’s 2012 World Juggling Day documentary, visit:
For more World Juggling Day details, visit:

About the International Jugglers’ Association
Founded in 1947, the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) is one of the oldest and most highly respected juggling organizations in the world.  The IJA is a 501c3 non-profit organization with the mission of rendering assistance to fellow jugglers.  Through its global outreach efforts, the IJA impacts tens of thousands of jugglers annually, and has historically promoted the advancement of the art of juggling.  Programming includes the Annual IJA Festival, International Juggling Championship, Youth Education Program, Video Tutorial Contest, World Juggling Day, and the electronic magazine, eJuggle.  The IJA’s mission is made possible by the support of our members.  A special discount for new IJA memberships will be available on June 15 and 16 in honor of World Juggling Day. International Jugglers Association

Adapted from an IJA press release.

Juggling & Other Impossible Tasks

Circus Arts ProgramMichael and I just finished teaching an 8-week after school circus arts program at an elementary school near our home. I taught circus arts classes in the past, although I had never done an after school program with this format. While I love teaching, the prospect of teaching Kindergarten through 5th graders was a little daunting, especially since the 20 person class skewed young. I made up a rough class schedule, recruited Michael to help and crossed my fingers that we could teach 5-11 year olds to juggle or something that resembled a circus skill.

We started the session in a hallway. Although we were offered a classroom, the desks, tables, chairs and other obstacles made the space unusable without a moving crew at the beginning and end of each day. Far from ideal, we made the best of it. At least they couldn’t wander far.

If you have ever taught children, you know there are always a few names you figure out right away. They are the ones you talk to 5 times in the first 5 minutes. They are the ones that will keep you up at night trying to figure out how to turn octopus arms into jugglers. Who doesn’t love a challenge?

And there were challenges. Some kids were painfully shy. Others scooted down the hall or hid under the lone table refusing to do anything because they didn’t master something the first time they tried. We heard from a parent that their child wanted to quit mid-session (but didn’t).  And then there were the talkers, the runners, and the “please take your hands off of him,” kids. Ask any teacher, they deal with this every single day. Thank you, teachers. You are saints.

While our framework was circus arts and our product was a show for parents on the last day, we focused on the process. Juggling is hard. Ask any person who has ever tried. You won’t be successful the first or second or third time you try. Failure is not easy to accept and especially for elementary school kids.

We focused on teamwork, each encouraging the other to do their best. We cheered their successes and raised them up when things didn’t go well. We focused on stage presence and presenting oneself as a confident person on stage and off. But, we mostly focused on a simple formula: 

Courage + Perseverance = Success

Trying something hard takes courage. Performing on stage takes courage. And they all did it. Some of them worked through fear, some even intense fear and found something in themselves to overcome it.

It is hard to keep going when you don’t get it right away. But, they didn’t learn to read the first time they picked up a book and they didn’t learn to tie their shoes the first time they laced them up. We practiced juggling every day in our once a week class. Knowing that juggling wasn’t going to be possible for everyone, we all tried balancing, swinging poi, hat manipulation and clowning. They all found their thing and kept at it. While the older kids learned to juggle balls, others learned scarves. But, everyone learned something.

I learned something, too. Kids are amazing beings. The show isn’t something we’ll take on the road. It wasn’t that kind of show. What I will take with me are the smiles on their faces when the performance was done. That sense of pride, and maybe relief, that filled them. I’ll take the hugs from the kids and the thanks from the parents. And I’ll carry the hope that they will all have the courage to try something new or something hard and keep at it until they succeed.

What I Learned From Learning to Juggle

Juggling LessonsBefore I went to high school, life was pretty easy. School was a breeze. Playing sports seemed natural. Art projects were part of who I was. When I hit high school, I crawled out of my happy little cocoon and realized that while I wasn’t bad at any of those things, I was really nothing special. Not the low self-esteem crawl in a closet and die feeling, but I no longer felt good at anything.

Fast forward…

I met Michael. Cute? Sure. Charming? No doubt. But, he was a juggler, too. I thought, how cool is that? I dumped my practicality compass and headed toward the unknown.

That week, I scrounged up 3 tennis balls and tried to teach myself to juggle. There was no YouTube or internet to guide me (no laughing young ones). I hadn’t seen a lot of juggling before to mentally comprehend the task before me. But, I was determined to impress Michael. 5 minutes a day for 30 days I threw those balls in the air then picked them up off the ground. I chased them under chairs and brushed off the dust balls that they collected on their journey. Even with little early success, I kept trying.

By about day 15, I could manage 4 throws and catches. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s when I felt it. It was a transformative feeling of knowing that I was going to be able to juggle. My body and my mind  finally started singing in the same key and while not yet a masterpiece, it felt like a song.  My heart raced and, as hokey as it sounds, real joy ran through me. That addictive feeling pushed me through the next 15 days until I had the courage to show Michael. While not overly impressed with my new juggling skills, he stuck with me anyway.

It’s that feeling that I see in the eyes of people I teach to juggle. It is a universal look I see in everyone that gets to throwing that 4th throw for the first time. It doesn’t matter if they are 10 or 60 years old, it’s all the same. I’ll never grow tired of seeing that look or reliving that feeling.

Not everyone can juggle. Most people, erroneously, don’t think they can. It isn’t like running a 5K for the first time. Maybe you can run all the way, but you can run. And it’s not like writing a book. It may not be any good, but at least you can write something. You can’t juggle until you can. There is both mental and physical energy to expend in trying to get there. There is pride and self-doubt, a sink full of dishes and Survivor standing in your way. So when you do finally learn how to juggle, when you finally get that feeling, you are suddenly in a different place.

I listened to an interview with blogger and founder of Squidoo, Seth Godin. He asked the question, does what you do matter? I sure as hell hope so. I hope it matters to the people we have made smile and laugh during our 20 years of performing. But, I mostly hope it matters to the people I have taught and will teach to juggle. I said in another post that once I learned to juggle, everything else seemed possible. I wonder who else felt that, too.

If you want to learn to juggle (and why wouldn’t you), now that we are in the 21st century, there are lots of resources online. I would start with . If you are near Newark, Delaware, I am teaching several classes this spring and would love to teach you, too. You can check out the details on our Facebook page at

If you know how to juggle, I would love to hear your “learn to juggle” experience.

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