The Figure Eight Pattern

It looks so easy, you’d think that anyone could do it. But not so fast – juggling is a skill that takes years to perfect. But with patience and practice, even people not blessed with an over-abundance of natural grace can learn the basics of keeping three balls in the air.

One of the keys to successful juggling is the sense of rhythm, coupled with how you throw and how many things that you can notice and do, all at the same time. Still sound easy? It is and it isn’t. Some people have learned the basics of juggling in as little as fifteen minutes, and there are those who say that just about anyone can learn the essentials within about half an hour to an hour.

There is a figure eight pattern to juggling that some teachers say is easier to learn than other patterns, because both hands throw in the same basic manner. In the figure eight, the props are thrown in an inward, circular motion and caught on the outside. “Props,” by the way, is the word that many jugglers use for the objects they juggle. And for beginners, one of the best props to use are three bean bags. A lot of people are inclined to start with balls, like tennis balls or baseballs. They have a good weight and feel familiar in the hand. The trouble with using them is that when you drop one – and when you’re just learning, you will – they are going to bounce and roll away from you, unlike bean bags.

Roy Pomerantz is a veteran juggler who learned to juggle from a book called Carlo’s Book of Juggling when he was a child.

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The Juggling Hall of Fame

If there were a juggling Hall of Fame, there are at least three people who were be named to it, hands down: Enrico Rastelli, Bobby May, and Francis Brunn.

Enrico Rastelli is considered by many to be the greatest juggler who ever lived. He died in 1931 and there are only a few known film clips of him performing. One clip shows him juggling four sticks, juggling six plates while spinning a ring on his leg and skipping rope, and bouncing soccer balls on his head.

Bobby May was considered one of the all-time great American jugglers. He had a five ball routine that featured throws under both legs, a move called the half-shower, a half-shower with shoulder throws, and a full shower. An existing film clip shows these tricks, concluding with a ball bouncing from his forehead to his neck, and rolling down his back; he catches it in a hat held between his legs while somersaulting forward.

Francis Brunn performed a trick on the Jack Benny show in 1961 that dazzles viewers to this day. He holds two large balls in his left hand. He holds another large ball in his other hand, and kicks yet another from his foot to his forehead. He begins spinning the ball in his right hand on one finger, bends forward and drops the ball from his forehead down his back, then straightens up and kicks it several times, sort of like a hackey sack.

Roy Pomerantz is a highly talented juggler who has spent a lifetime perfecting his skills.

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The Juggling Metaphor

It takes a lot of work to get really good at juggling, and it takes a lot of work to get really good at business. Juggling is a favorite metaphor for a lot of people in the business world.

In both business and juggling, you need a lot of practice and a lot of persistence. Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, but it may be more accurate to say that persistence makes perfect. You need to keep at it to really get it right. No juggler just randomly throws objects into the air and hopes to not just catch them, but keep them going. The same is true for business people. They know they have to juggle with intention.

In juggling as in business, everyone wants to be as good as they can be. It’s only natural. But skilled jugglers have progressed one step at a time to get to the level they’re at. Take it one step at a time. When you focus on the proper throw then the proper catch will follow. Proper execution leads to the desired outcome.

Pause a little bit between each throw. The human brain cannot keep going without a little time to reset. In business, try for a ten-minute recess for every ninety minutes of effort. It all comes down to refining your talents. Juggling is going to be part and parcel of growing your business, so it’s important to take the time needed to master the craft.

Roy Pomerantz began mastering the craft of juggling when he was still quite young. Today he uses it to entertain others, and also as a form of meditation. He has performed for charities and in many other settings. He also performs at trade shows to attract new customers.

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