Monday, October 25, 2021

The Art of Juggling

Photos by Wayne Clark

In one of my previous columns titled, “It’s All in How You Look at It,” I discussed the importance of using primary and secondary vision. Watching two things at the same time, the ball and our opponent. Learning to juggle improves your “vision” in tennis.  

When juggling, my primary vision is on the ball at the top of the apex of the flight path of one ball and my secondary vision is on the other two balls which are landing in my hands. 

To get the hang of juggling and become a master juggler, let’s progressively work our way up from one to three balls. 

Start with one ball juggling from hand to hand. Your primary focus on watching the ball at the top of the apex of its flight and your secondary focus on seeing your hands moving and catching the ball. 

Next, go to juggling two balls at the same time. When one ball gets to the top of the apex, toss the second ball and then catch the first one in your other hand, alternating back and forth. 

Once you have accomplished that coordination, it’s time to add in the third ball. 

The trick with three balls is to always keep one ball in the middle at the top of the apex of the flight path and to keep your primary vision focused on that area. 

Being a right-handed person, I find it easier to start holding two balls in my right hand and one ball in my left hand.  

I begin by tossing one of the two balls in my right hand. This should be the ball I am holding in the front of my hand, resting in my pointer finger, my middle finger and my thumb. The other ball is resting in the palm of my right hand. 

When the first ball gets to the apex of its flight path and begins to drop, I toss the second ball from my left hand up towards that same area.  

Begin three-ball juggling with two balls in your dominant hand and one ball in the other hand.

At this point, I have two balls in the air and one ball remaining in my right hand.  

As the ball from my lefthand gets to the apex of its flight path, I now toss the remaining third ball up from my right hand, while simultaneously catching the first ball I tossed in my now open and available left hand.  

If you have trouble keeping an ongoing cycle of this tossing rotation going without dropping a ball, first just get the hang of tossing and catching 1,2,3, right hand to left hand, to right hand. Then progress by trying to get two toss cycles and then three toss cycles combined together. 

Remember, you need to keep your primary focus on watching the ball at the top of the apex. Your secondary focus will allow your hands to kind of work on their own catching the balls without actually looking at them. 

Before you know it, you will be juggling like a circus clown! 

Mastering the skill of juggling will help improve your ability to use your primary and secondary vision during points and get you winning more games!  

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161 

Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida’s Director Ryan Reader, demonstrates progressively learning how to juggle one, two, and finally, three balls.

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