Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6

Ray Bowers
  [Acrylic Ball]
Section 1 - Holding the ball


This section will discuss how to control the ball. Before beginning with Contact Juggling, you must learn how to hold the ball and be able to control it, even gently toss and catch the ball from the back of your hand a little. This is important because most people have spent their entire life catching things in their palm. However, half of Contact Juggling is catching the ball on the back of your hands! So, if you are like me, you have 31 years of experience catching a ball in the palm of your hand, but 0 years experience using the back of your hand... We need to work on that so you feel equally comfortable cathing on either side!

We start by how to hold the ball on the back of your hand . . .

[Where to hold the ball]

The ball should be placed on the back of your fingers between your finger tips and knuckles. In the picture, I am showing the area on the back of my right hand where you should hold the ball.

[Where to hold the ball]

When you place the ball on the back of your hand make sure both your wrist and fingers are straight for now. Later when you learn to control the ball from different positions you will be able to comfortably bend your wrist and fingers keeping the ball level at all positions. For now, to keep it simple, we will learn with everything straight and level.

[How far to spread fingers]

When you first place the ball on the back of your fingers, it will be unstable. Try to hold your fingers spread only a little bit, with your middle finger dropped down so three fingers gently cup the ball. Notice in the picture, I am using my other hand to show the space between my fingers. My right hand is holding the ball, and my fingers are at most finger's width apart. Using my left hand, I am able to put two fingers (thumb and forefinger) between the fingers supporting the ball. I prefer not to let my fingers go any wider. This is just a general guideline. This puts most of the weight on the two side fingers with some on the middle finger. If one of your side fingers overpowers the other, it will push the ball off of the opposite side. This will take practice to feel comfortable. It does not take long.

[Do not do this!!!]

DO NOT DO THIS!!! Although if you spread your fingers very far apart, the ball will be extremely stable and unable to fall off of either side, it is impossible to manage. When this is done, all of the weight of the ball is placed on one finger (middle finger), rather than being distributed over all three. There is no chance of the ball falling off to one side now, but it is also impossible for the ball to roll over your fingers like we will need to do later and it makes it harder for your middle finger since it is now supporting the entire weight of the ball on its own... This is not good form!

[Tossing/controlling the ball]

This is the hardest and most important part. Once you are able to keep the ball comfortably on the back of your hand without moving, you will need to delevelop the same control over the ball while moving and tossing it. First, try just holding the ball on the back of your hand and walking around, raise your hand, lower it, turn around. This will test how stable you are. When you can do that, you will now need to be able to toss the ball.

Begin with the ball on the back of your hand in front of you. Raise your entire arm to gently toss the ball into the air. At first, try no more than an inch off your hand. Slowly work your way up to tossing it above your head.

When the ball falls, instead of letting it land on your hand and be forced to come to an immediate stop, try raising your hand to meet the ball, and then lower your hand beneath the ball as you catch it. This will help cushion the catch and give you much more control! Notice in the last two frames of the picture, the ball makes contact with my hand but does not come to a complete stop until the last frame. Any attempt to simply catch the ball and stop it at once, letting the ball fall onto your hand without gently cushioning the catch, will probably fail since the ball will bounce off of your hand or you will not have the control to keep it there.

Do not forget . . . Practice both hands! If you do not start practicing with both now, it will only be harder later. This step is important since without firm control of the ball, all other tricks will continue to be difficult. Once you can control the ball on the back of your hand (holding and tossing it), the rest will be easy!. Continually practice tossing and catching the ball like this, even as you move on to more advanced sections. I cannot emphasize how important the ability to do this is.


Contact Juggling - Section 1 / Top of Tutorial / / June 12, 1997