How to Juggle with Three Balls

Published on 18th of February
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Have you ever come across or even said one or both of these two quotes?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint!


I’m juggling so many different things at the moment!

I have heard these over and over again and I’m pretty sure there were a few occasions, especially in a professional context, we’re I’ve uttered them myself without really thinking about it. I think it’s interesting which phrases make it into our active vocabulary, and why.

The main reason for their popularity is definitely that everyone knows these concepts immediately. We all know that sprinting is very hard but over after a short time, while marathon running is so popular that most people know this takes a prolonged effort and requires you to not waste energy along the way if you want to make it to the faraway end.

It’s a metaphor that almost everyone can understand right away.

🤹 The Thing with Juggling Is a Bit Different

When people say they are juggling so many things at the moment, worried about dropping one or two accidentally, they do so in order to convey how busy they are and that there’s no way they could possibly take up yet another task. Lunging left and right trying to catch these tasks or balls in time, constantly on edge and nearly failing.

This is a cry for help and not a cautionary tale like the marathon metaphor, but it should be!

A few years ago I came across author Seth Godin. He now has more than twenty (!) New York Times bestseller books under his belt. The guy has a calm and effortless creative type guru aura surrounding him. He’s a regular podcast guest on the shows I enjoy. And at some point he casually mentioned that he often teaches the people he coaches how to juggle. He has done so with dozens of people, he says.

That’s interesting! It’s not a bad idea to actually find out what juggling is like, since it’s a phrase I’m saying and keep hearing from others. And it turns out, there’s something more to it.

🎓 What We Can Learn from Juggling

Seth Godin put this perfectly: Throwing is more important than catching. If you throw it right, the catching takes care of itself.

Our culture doesn’t have a place for that, though. There’s far more attention on the heroic saves, the lunges towards the errant balls to keep the process going. Seth says: Let those balls drop. Throw better, implement better systems. That’s the metaphor. Check out his three short blog posts where he puts these insights into beautiful words: one, two, three. Or if you prefer a one minute YouTube video of him wearing yellow glasses while saying it himself, here you go.

Since I already know quite well how to run a marathon, and training for it involves a bit of sprinting, too, I now wanted to learn how to juggle. How to throw so well that the catching happens easily. I put this on my bucket list about five years ago, I think. Then, in late 2023, Seth’s new book, The Practice, came out. There’s another short chapter about juggling and I finally decided to read my first book of his and that triggered me into starting the juggling challenge. Now, the timing felt right.

Let’s do this!
Let’s do this!

📝 How to Juggle in Three Easy Steps

First things first. The learning process differs wildly for everyone. There are naturals who pick up the three balls for the first time and a few minutes later they’ve got it down. Others take years and never really make it. Most will lie somewhere between the extremes, and so do I. I wouldn’t describe myself as very talented, more on the contrary.

So in order not to discard the challenge disappointedly after a short time trying, I set myself the psychologically helpful goal of practicing for just five minutes per day.

This is not much, everyone can find it somewhere in the 24 hours we get, and it’s not so annoying if it feels like you’re not making much progress. For me, this worked perfectly. I didn’t manage to do it on every single day, some days I just forgot, but about five days per week on average worked well.

What’s the goal? That’s a question you need to answer first. When does it count? At what point do you feel confident stating “I can juggle”? For me, I set the bar at 60 seconds straight without any drops.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a long time you need to stay completely focussed.

My first five minute training sessions were just aimlessly sitting on the floor with a wall in front so the balls don’t always roll so far away. I threw all of them in the air and tried to emulate what I saw professionals do. This didn’t get me far. You need a system. So here are the three steps to get you there.

Step 1: One Ball

Easy enough! If you can’t throw one ball perfectly, how is it going to work with three?

Here are several helpful bits of advice to get going:

Now throw that one ball up so it reaches the height of about your forehead.

It should go straight up as opposed to forward or backwards towards you.

And the arch it describes should be so that it lands right in that other hand without you requiring to move your catching hand. Throw the ball into your other hand, right where that hand is.

Here’s another fitting quote for the occasion.

You reap what you sow.

Your present action shapes the future outcomes. This sounds big, we’re just talking about trivial juggling here after all, but it’s still true and it’s exactly Seth Godin’s point. The better you throw, the easier the catch. Don’t think “Well, I’ll just figure it out when time comes to catch”, just throw well in the first place.

Go back and forth from hand to hand and repeat until it’s in your muscle memory.

That’s the theory, but of course the reality will look differently. The perfect throw doesn’t exist. Look at how bad I still do this, despite (spoilers) having successfully completed the 60 seconds meanwhile.

In retrospect, I should have made a video where I throw a bit better 😄

Step 2: Two Balls

Obviously enough, you add another ball after a while. But here comes the tricky part: Many people think the proper two-ball juggling technique looks like the balls going in a circle. Making the ball leave the one hand in an arched throw, landing in the other, and then passing it over horizontally back to the first hand.

This doesn’t get us anywhere, though.

To make progress towards three-ball juggling, the two ball juggling technique is different.

One ball in each hand, you need to throw one up in an arch at a trajectory that will lead to the other hand, but before it does, throw the other ball in an arch towards the first hand.

Throw, throw, catch, catch.

Alternate the starting hand so it works well for you regardless of what’s happening first.

I realize this isn’t looking perfect, but I think it conveys the idea well

Again, practice until it becomes muscle memory.

Step 3: Three Balls

Now we’re talking. This step is the last one, because you’re already doing the correct juggling routine here. The only difference is the aim at this point: It’s enough for now to just throw each of the three balls once, catch each once and pause. Starting with two balls in the right hand, one in your palm and one in your fingers, it goes like this:

  1. Throw the right hand ball you’re holding with your fingers, same technique and arch as before.
  2. While #1 is in the air, throw the one left hand ball #2 up in an arch towards the right hand.
  3. Now that the left hand is empty, you can catch ball #1 in it and keep it.
  4. Right hand ball #3 leaves it for the left hand.
  5. The right hand catches ball #2.
  6. The left hand catches ball #3 using the fingers and now has two balls in it.

Now you have thrown and caught all three balls once and end up with the same situation as before except that the other hand now has two balls. This means you can go again, starting with the left hand. This might feel weird at first, but it’s good to be able to start the juggling off from both hands.

Now that looks like we’re mostly done and I don’t even screw up that much this time!

🔁 The Grand Finale

This is basically it. Now you just have to keep going and add another throw and another throw as you get more comfortable. But it all stays the same, nothing new.

That’s how it’s done

Despite all that Seth Godin says about putting emphasis on the throwing as opposed to the catching, when juggling and also in life, I do think that the lunge to save a throw gone wrong is also a good metaphor. It’s also part of life that not every throw will be perfectly smooth, there’s no way of making sure of that.

A lunge leading to a good recovery of a bad situation, no matter what or who caused it, is still something worth celebrating. Life throws us a curveball sometimes, and although I think that’s now a baseball metaphor, taking those and recovering is another good skill to learn.

I did this practice starting in mid December of 2023 and finally reached over 60 seconds of continuous juggling at the end of January. At five minutes per day, roughly five days per week that’s around 150 minutes, or 2-3 hours of juggling practice to make it to my goal. Not too much of a time invest after all.

There were days where I felt like I moved three steps back and had to start from the beginning, and there were big breakthrough days as well, where suddenly everything worked out a lot better than anticipated.

I really enjoyed this journey and learning this skill. Maybe you might as well?

🎁 The Giveaway

Seth Godin and now I as well think that learning how to juggle with three balls is a good skill to build, because it teaches you things about life.

And since I have bought my three juggling balls from a very nice company which give people with mental challenges the chance to work and produce these balls here in Germany, while also giving extra money to their inclusive efforts, I’ve decided to buy five sets and give them away to you, dear reader. I’ll cover the shipping as well.

Would you like one of those five sets and give it a try?

These are waiting to be thrown around
These are waiting to be thrown around

Let me know in the comments (enter an email address so I can get in contact with you) or sign up for the newsletter right here using this form:

First 5 People Who Sign up Get a Free Juggling Ball Set!

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  • This was one of the best articles I've read so far in telling about a race. I couldn't put it down. Your details were so awesome. You made New York just come alive.

    Betty J.

  • Great review, enjoyed reading it and recognize lots off related subjects and hurtles. I’m amazed by all your running and races well done.

    Andre S.

  • Great article! I've read so many long blogs only to get bored in the middle as I suffer terribly from ADD and move on to other things. Yours has been one of few that held my attention all the way to the end.

    Chae B.

  • Your good humor and ease in telling stories make this blog a really cool space. Nice review.


  • Amazing effort Tim, well done! Thank you for taking the time to write down your thoughts, feelings and memories from the event. There’s always something to learn from your posts and this one was no exception!! Another cracking read.

    Tom K.

  • What a ride! Surely the race, but also reading about it. Thanks for taking the time to write up such a detailed report, almost feel like I was there.

    Till F.

I realize this sounds like spam, but there’s no catch, no pun intended. I’d love to see a few of you go from nothing to 60 seconds as well, and a photo or short video of you trying would be appreciated afterwards, but that’s not a must.

🎉 I’ll Start, Here’s My Video Proof

Thanks to camera girl daughter #2 🎥 and stopwatch iPad holding girl daughter #3 💪.

Bucket list item ✅

How do you feel after reading this?

This helps me assess the quality of my writing and improve it.


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Guy Almog wrote:

I want to try!!!!

19th of February 14:02


→Teesche replied:


19th of February 18:42

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