7 Balls after 40?

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EricS -

7 Balls after 40?

I'm 47 years old, and now working on 7 balls. i learned to do 5 balls in my late 20's in grad school, and I kept on juggling, but never worked on numbers very seriously. i kinda/sorta flashed 7 beanbags (dropped the last one out of my hands) twice in my late 20's, but did nothing after that.

Flash forward 20-some years, and I'm juggling with other folks again, and this has led to some renewed motivation. My buddy made me 7 Russians, and a few months ago, I flashed 7 balls, catching them all clean. I've done it once more since then, and a few near misses with a clear pattern going up.

So here's my question: While I know some jugglers juggle 7 balls after the age of 40, I know of no one that *learned* to juggle 7 *after* the age of 40. I don't know if I'm running up against some physical limit here, atrophied nerve/"quick twitch" synapses (I think I got that term from Boppo, way back when). So, any of our juggling historians (or anyone else) know of anyone who got 7 after 40?

Anonymous - - Parent

I know someone who first flashed seven over age 40.  I do remember reading of someone over the age of 30 learning a minute of it, but he said it nearly consumed his life.

ejwysz - - Parent

This is something I've been thinking about a TON. I'm 24, and even I fear that my juggling prime may come soon/might be already gone. But then I remember one article I read about... (it was so long ago that I can't remember)... some old-time female juggler who got interviewed and threw up 8 objects at a very old (70-80) age with no problem, juggling them like it was nothing.

Now, that is just redoing a skill already learned at a younger age, I know, but I think it speaks volumes. In my opinion, someone could pick up 3 for his very first time at 60, and still learn to juggle 7 before he was 70.

To me it looks like you're doing much better with 7 than you did in your twenties. Doesn't that progress speak for itself? You've got this. The question I feel like you need to be asking yourself is if you'll be too old to juggle 9 when the time comes.

emilyw - - Parent

I suspect the physical limit might be known as "having children".

lukeburrage - - Parent

At 34 I'm waaaaaaay better at juggling than I was at 24. Fucked up human memory still catches me out though, and I think I used to be better, and now I'm not so good. Until I try tricks I couldn't do 10 years ago, and get them pretty easily. Or try to break a record, and get it after just a few days. This happens time and time again, and yet I never seem to learn.

7 balls isn't outside of your physical limits. It's hard, but you won't inure yourself (not like I keep doing trying 10 and 12 balls). Everything you've learned over the last 20 years will feed back in and it will be easier to progress to your natural plateau with your current history of improvement experience.

EricS - - Parent

Yes, thanks, Luke, for this. I think I practice *smarter* now (partly because I have to with other life commitments, but more importantly because it *is* smarter), and I think I certainly see that improvement in other areas of juggling, if not (so clearly yet) in my numbers work.

Orinoco - - Parent

Learning when you are older can also have its advantages. How is your patience & attention span compared to the you of 20 years ago?

EricS - - Parent

To combine some responses here, I thank everyone for the insights and encouragement. Too old for 9? Yes, I think I'll "stop" at 7, please :)

Attention span? Probably lower, I have kids :)

Okay, really, I think my focus is better, so my practices are probably better. And having kids and other commitments means I have to (at least try) to make my practice time more efficient. I learned 5 like most of us probably did in our 20's, lots of time and brute force practicing. And while I'd love a solid hour every day to just juggle (I take my seven ball runs in about 15 minute increments, then go and do something else for a while), I know that's not realistic with my life.

Thanks all for the encouragement, I'm actually heading off to juggling club now!

EricS - - Parent

Well, all-righty then.... Back from juggling club:

While I wish I could say I picked up my 7 Russians and ran 20+ catches today...I cannot. Best was 6 catches, dropping one out of my hand as I caught the last ball. The patterns were tight and crisp in the air, mostly, though.

The big news is that for the heck of it I started tossing 6 balls up in a sync pattern. Previous best had been 8 catches, but this was starting to come in nice and clean. Inside of 10 minutes I counted out 17 throws (dropped one before I could throw it). Realizing I clearly had a qualifying run, but no idea how many catches, I tried again.

14 catches, the first time I've ever qualified 6 balls, ever. Yay! :)

The Void - - Parent

And I add my voice to the chorus of encouragement: You can clearly run 7, with some work. Go for it!

MikeBanks - - Parent

Just a quick tip:

If your goal is to run 7 balls work on 8 and 9 throws more than you work on flashes. This way you start practicing *exchanges* in the pattern rather than only launching and collecting.

(You could argue that the last two throws of a flash are exchanges already, but it is possible to rush them. The next throws after the flash are not possible to rush since they are the first balls you threw - and you have to wait for them to fall before you can throw them again. Because of this, practicing 8 and 9 throws helps to achieve a seamless join between your flash and your pattern.)

EricS - - Parent

Interesting idea, I've never seen that before, but I see the concept. Thanks for the tip!

Brook Roberts - - Parent

I saw a post somewhere a long time ago from Wes, who at the time was often practising 7 club clean flashes and qualifies. He came to the conclusion that not only were the flashes not helping either his longer runs or his qualifies, but that they were actually making him worse, and mostly dropped them from his practice.

I imagine it varies, and this might be more approriate when you're getting runs of patterns, but I agree that once you get to the qualify stage they are massively more useful than practising flashes.

Mike Moore - - Parent

This is one of the many examples of things I've read and forgotten. Thank you for the reminder.

peterbone - - Parent

Yes, if you're not pushing yourself to failure each time then you won't improve. I'd recommend the book 'bounce, the myth of talent and the power of practice', which talks about this and several other training tips that can be applied to juggling.

This is especially true of doing flashes because a flash is very different to longer runs. It's possible to cheat the timing, which will have a negative effect on longer runs.

Little Paul - - Parent

I've always thought of it from the point of view that with a flash you're practising the launch, and the collect, but neither of those are all that helpful for the bit in the middle, as you say - due to the timing being less critical and because errors don't have a chance to compound themselves.

Would a better approach be a mixture of "run it to you drop" and "short-medium runs with a clean collect" so that you work all three aspects of the pattern?

peterbone - - Parent

Yes, I think that occasionally working on the collect is good as well. Especially for performers.

Brook Roberts - - Parent

I think the point I take is that if you do a flash, you do practice the launch, and the collect, but you can do a funny timing that won't be useful for launching longer runs. So not only are you not practising the exchanges, but you are practising bad launches, and actively making your job harder when you try for harder runs.

If you practise clean qualifies, it doesn't have to be pushing yourself (you may just be solidifying for performance) but you are drilling launches and collects, but ensuring they are suitable launches for runs. And you get the benefit of practising exchanges.

emilyw - - Parent

I always mixed in "aim for X catches with clean collect" (with increasing X) because I felt it focused my attention much more on what happens as things start to go wonky, and less on training myself to catch all kinds of wacky shit, which is a useful skill, but I feel like it's not a good thing to train at the same time as training to just throw that stuff properly in the first place.

Also running 20 catches (but half of them all over the place and then you fall on your head) is cheating yourself in some sense, in the same way as training the wrong timing in a flash.

7b_wizard - - Parent

answering "(cheating) timing" - Not only the timing, but also everything else needed to keep a pattern up for a few periods: the right height, apt (most `relaxed´ possible) posture, the needed (technique for) speedyness of the throw-time and its ratioes to the dwelltime and to beat-rhythm .. you get none of those with throwing 7 up far ahead of your body, spaced inconsistently and way too much on whatever height, with effort on these few throws of after all pretty light props, and with huge or tiny scoop, then catching them all somehow. That's why focussing on doing accurate throw 8.-th & 9.-th - even there has been a drop already - are so important to get over flashing and into qualifying as soon as one can.

7b_wizard - - Parent

Also, launching and collecting use up most effort and body tension and have a different focus .. like starting and braking a run, while the running itself is constant, easier, fluent, enduring.

pompboy - - Parent

Hi Eric,

My tale is similar to yours, except I am 48 and I didn't learn to juggle 5 until I was 44 years old(took 9 months of consistent 20 minutes a day on average practice, but, now I can pretty much pick up 5 cold and run for 100+ catches). You are not too old for 7, I have qualified 7 3 or 4 times now since I started in earnest trying to get better at 6 and tackle 7 about a year and a half ago. It is definitely slow going, but, us old geezer jugglers can indeed learn new tricks!!

Good Juggling and I look forward to hearing about your progress!!

cheers - Warren

EricS - - Parent

Warren, thanks for this post! This is an inspiring note.

friedbr - - Parent

Hi, Eric. I'm 45, have learned 3b cascade with 41, 5b cascade with 42, and wish to learn 7b cascade (and 5 club too) soon. Juggle has been like a life revolution. Children are not a problem: I have 13 - yes, a big family.

Orinoco - - Parent

Have you tried 14?

/obligatory joke

7b_wizard - - Parent

haha lol ( fountain, wimpy or sideswap? ;o]) °gg° )

answering EricS_@ : .. the crucial thing is to catch up in rhythm ( / stroke tact / pulse ) of the 7b pattern with two more balls' dwell-time ! i.e. - into some physicals - the  r a t i o  of height per tact - as well known and used to from 5 ball casc - is either higher for the same given tact-speed or vice versa a faster tact for a given height. And that is not yet accounting for varying lengths of the dwell-time: with a short dwell-time, you can juggle the pattern lower, yet faster .. AND still have more time between the throws for slightly correcting and mastering the pattern (the mere ratio being the same as the pattern done higher & slower).
U have to overcome the the 'instinct' of going for 5b height-speed-ratio. (lots of only a few minutes preliminairies e.g. varying 5b casc in any way can get U independent of such fixed, maybe unconscious, focusses)

Loosen Ur wrists. Don't throw from the palms, but from a basket of the fingers. That will give a lever to Ur throws, a stronger momentum to the balls, and U can throw higher with less effort ! Aiming & precision is then a little more difficult and feels different in the beginning and will take a week or two to fairly get used to, but the reward will soon be an easy, comfortable, fluent ('flowing' lol) & effortless juggling style.

At Ur level it's very important to go for the first balls juggled thoroughly i.e. continue with a caught ball (not thrown from starthand) i.e. go for 9, then 11 catches and focus on these throws aimed well at their height or slightly above (not into the clouds for the sake of having them done). U can even practise that trying to stay in a rhythm with already one or two balls dropped if these didn't make a gap into the remaining pattern.

Good luck & wishing U a 7b qualify in .. say three or four weeks .. greets the 7b_wannabe_wizard

gantenbein - - Parent

Hi Eric,

I realize that I'm answering a somewhat dated thread, but I only (re-)discovered TheJugglingEdge today, realizing that apparently all the discussions that used to occur on rec.juggling are now happening here :-).

My history is also very similar to yours. Learned to juggle somewhere in my late teens/ early twenties, stopped juggling for 18 years and started again when I was ~36 years old.

My goal is also to learn 7 balls and as you can see from my 7 ball records log it's been going VERY SLOW for me. Nonetheless I believe that it's possible to learn 7 balls for old chaps like us with a lot of dedication and patience.

I personally also get encouragement exchanging my experiences with others in a similar situation, hence I was very happy to read your post.

I currently feel that I might be able to break the wall that I've banging my had against for the last few month, but it remains to be seen whether this feeling is correct :-).

Here's a link to a small clip I posted on YouTube hoping to get some advice on how to improve. https://www.youtube.com/v/5rts7JglfKY

Maybe posting the link here will give me a few more responses :-).

Good luck with 7 - it's possible! :-)

gantenbein - - Parent

BTW: I'm 48 now :-)

7b_wizard - - Parent

before juggling:
Your stand is very straight. Maybe try and bend knees (but I don't think, that's crucial or even necessary, dunno)

You launch from slow well-placed throws, getting faster then, hurrying the last three throws. Your launch seems perfect, well-spaced and it mostly gets you into a well-shaped, good jugglable pattern. Yet ..

first thoroughly juggled throws 8.-th, 9.-th a.s.o. throws / transition into thoroughly juggled pattern / qualify:
.. yet few tries go fail by lack of time to correct in that few throws transition phase (your launch comes with the need to get the next throws to the point with no extra millliseconds for correcting). - Maybe `play´ a bit with speed andor height or with slightly different whole launch rhythms to provide for tiny extra time for a comfortable transition into qualify & endure-pattern?

juggled pattern after launch + transition:
You seem to keep up the well-shaped, well-spaced pattern at a good reasonable height pretty frequently, when launch & transition went well.
Your posture, arms & elbows look very good, relaxed, and you juggle near the body (sparing effort).
Your clearly scooping, circling with hands how i think it should be.
Your pattern is not too narrow, not too wide - it doesn't even seem to drift anywhere, neither in space towards or away from one hand, or ahead, nor in matters of asynch timing going synch or alike, nor into different heights going halfshower or so. Only a tendency to turn on place.
Your dwelltime seems to just fit and be right apt to the point melting with the succeeding pattern's rhythm. (but see below, "endure").
You lack accurracy throwing the constant height, which can be seen watching the highest area, the top of all your patterns.
Still, you're more reacting than acting - I have the impression - and you're somewhat hurrying after the pattern, lacking extra time to cope with outbreakers and corrections of flawly throws (?) .. maybe .. hard to tell.

You get longer runs of 20+, 25 .. when everything fits perfect.
After 20-25-30 throws maybe somewhat more effort, maybe finding into a steady solid rhythm, maybe keeping concentration and focus steadily up, come into account. This is where any extra time for correcting, controlling and mastering the pattern (and not vice versa) becomes very precious. Outbreakers and correcting flaws now cost a lot of effort and tear your pattern down with one throw. Trying to recover with only one high throw will only worsen the displaced shape (five, six or upto seven or more throws to greater height would be necessary to save the shape by throwing higher).

Your pattern, posture, juggling, rhythm, spacing all seem okay, except for accurracy of constant height.
What you need for recovering from outbreakers or flawful throws, is single speedy yet accurate correction throws that more or less instantly find back into pattern (desirably doing several consecutive speedy corrective throws like that).
You can train this e.g. with 5b at 7- or 9-height or more (for accurracy on the height) and 5b lower & faster (providing for speedy throwing and faster thinking), together these will provide for the capacity of doing speedy (AND) accurate correction throws, and also make you feel haimish at doing a constant height (and throwing distinct different heights up there) aswell.

[ #7balls #videoanalysis #analysis #cascade #endurance #numbers ]

7b_wizard - - Parent

I'm also not sure if you are not grasping the balls with the whole hand while juggling, using up lots of forearms' effort. With the balls merely touching the palm, juggled from a basket of the fingers, casually only sustained by the thumb, you get an unlike stronger lever .. = higher throws + with less effort + at a shorter dwell-time.

EricS - - Parent

Wow, a good day to check the Edge!

Thanks for the notes and encouragement, guys. That was an inspiring video, absolutely.

I like the "basket" idea, IIRC, Gatto's 7b tutorial seems to suggest that the catches aren't really "catches," but this kind of redirection. I do know my runs seem to be getting more consistent. I can really "see" the pattern. I do need to keep the pace and height up, though, that's been the trouble right now.

I haven't got past 9 throws, though I've been remiss with my 7 balls. I have been working on a 4 torch fountain this summer, but should get more 7 ball time when winter comes and I can no longer practice outside.

gantenbein - - Parent


also true. I come however from the opposite end of the spectrum. Before I started with 7 and was any good at 5 I grasped the balls with my fingertips, which as you can imagine is not working at all. The slightest inaccuracy will instantly lead to a drop. It took me a long time to retrain myself to catches closer to the palm. Maybe I've gone a bit too far now :-).


7b_wizard - - Parent

queer, and interesting .. I either tried that and rejected it as being - what you say - too hard, or else in need of having to throw an erroneous catch incidentally landed like that in my fingertips (or any fork or thumb to pinky or or).   But, .. anything "impossible" is always also a potential challenge and surely would look cool .. (yet for unlike more time and work to have to invest for the hard stuff).

gantenbein - - Parent


thanks a lot for this very comprehensive analysis!

And yes, I think you are spot on with the height/accuracy bit. I'm embarrassingly bad at maintaining a high five ball cascade. I will put more focus on this as you suggest.

Thanks again!


7b_wizard - - Parent

yw, glad you found it strike your concern with 7b!

.. this very moment - reading - it strikes me, that aiming throws in most (ball)sports (tennis, golf, darts, frisbee-golf, baseball, handball, boule, ..) is done  a t  a   t a r g e t ! Or a target area or else as far, as you can (disk, javelin, hammer, ..) . Hitting that target is the task, but rarely (billiards, pool, also boule, ..) also controlling the thrown ball  a f t e r  the hit. - So, no wonder throwing at a distinct height (empty air) is unlikely more .. erhh 'void'? lol .. more abstract an aim to throw at, thus more difficult by nature. - Maybe throwing at a low ceiling or hitting it only very slightly, or throwing through a vertically hung up ring is generally an idea to get used to dosing well the little power laid in a throw at empty target.

[ #aiming #heights ]

gantenbein - - Parent

Funny you mentioned that, because I very recently discovered that my throws get significantly better (nowhere near good though) if I try to aim at the receiving hand. Not directly of course, it's more like keeping the target (the receiving hand) in the back of my mind while throwing upwards towards the crossing point or the top of the pattern.

So in juggling we probably need to do both, throwing upwards to a point in empty air as you put it and hitting a target as well, albeit somewhat latter. In other words: We still need to throw the ball at a target, but in a way that gives us some time to do something else (like throwing more balls :-) ) before the ball arrives there.

emead - - Parent

Hey EricS! When I read your post, I felt like I was looking in the mirror.... I am also named Eric and juggling 7 balls at (almost) 47 years old.

I know your post is 2 years old, but I hope you reply to this as I'd like to hear how things are going now.

For myself, I can tell you, I had almost the EXACT same experience as you -- 5 balls at 20 with an attempted flash of 7... never serious until 5 years ago (2012 or so). Funny.. I look back and remember that I was CONVINCED that if I just had about 2 weeks of everyday juggling, that I'd be able to get it. This wishful thinking was based on how long it took to get from a 5-ball flash to a reasonable 30 catch run.

Wow... was I wrong. Again, like you, flash (no pun intended) forward 25 years, and I started getting serious. Moved somewhere warm, so I could practice year-round (no 30-foot ceilings in my apartment). Well.... 5 years later, I'm at a reasonable 30 catch with a personal record of a sloppy 60 catch twice. It has definitely turned out to be the hardest things I've ever tried.

So... in case you're still working on it... there's hope for sure! I feel like I've turned a corner in the past month, as I am going at it daily now, but I can tell you, the improvements come so much slower than they did when I was 20 working on 5 balls... SO much slower. Seems like it takes weeks to add just a couple more to my runs.

Anyway, love to hear your progress and anyone else interested to share their over-40 story (boy, I never thought I'd be saying that... )!!

(I started a post to the forum looking to gather together over-40 7-ball jugglers -- join that thread if you can since this one is kinda old and less specific.)

Yves Bolognini - - Parent

Hello over-40 jugglers,

I'm a newcomer here at the Edge... I found this thread via Google and that's because of it that I signed up.

I'm 43, I learned 5-ball cascade 20+ year ago, then I stopped training (why, oh why?!). I started again last year and now my 5-ball is pretty solid. Last week I took my first juggling class with a professional and I regularly juggle around one hour a day.

And yes, I dream of 7 balls.

Little Paul - - Parent

Oh god.

I've been reading these posts over the last couple of weeks, but only just this morning remembered I'm 40.

I don't know why it's taken this long for it to click tha you're not talking about "old people" you're talking about me, and all my juggling mates that I met through juggling 15-20 years ago, and who are still mates that I see at festivals throughout the year.

Well, almost. I don't really juggle much any more, but quite a lot of them do..,

Kelhoon - - Parent

I was 40 when I met Void and you and other Bristolians in person before (after ?) EJC 2006.

I need to do more work on my 5 to get decent runs, but I don't think I'll ever even start on 6 or 7.

So all you young blokes over 40 doing 7, good on ya, but I'll stay over here in the 5 over 50 club.

To be fair, I didn't even learn to juggle until my late 30s.

Little Paul - - Parent

Blimey, was that really over a decade ago?

Kelhoon - - Parent

'twas indeed

lukeburrage - - Parent

I noticed my previous reply started with "At 34 I'm waaaaaaay better at juggling than I was at 24" and I just turned 37. This is the first age I feel more "almost 40" than "mid 30's" and that's partly down to how much more effort I have to put in to feeling young and healthy. I'll join in this thread again in three years time and update you on my seven ball juggling.

Meanwhile, here's a (long) video I made to answer a question by Matthew Tiffany:


EricS - - Parent

Thanks all! I was back here looking some stuff up for the IJA (I am a new Board Member) and was pleasantly surprised to see this thread come up.

@emead: to answer your question, my 6 balls is coming in fairly well, with a consistent 8-10 catches and an occasional qualifying run.

7 still eludes me, though it doesn't take me long to get to 5-6 catches. The flash and more is still difficult, though that's more because I've been working on 5 ball tricks and 6 balls rather than working on 7 balls, but I got back into it last week really since a good practice space has opened up.

I'm inspired by your progress, though, Eric! I'm going to have to get back on the regimen!


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