Over the years, I've heard many people speculate that it's not possible to forget how to juggle (except via brain injury). It's a skill that doesn't leave you, once learned you're stuck with it.
I have now successfully determined that yes, with enough practice - it is certainly possible to forget how to juggle nearly entirely.
I haven't really juggled actively much for years, and apart from about half an hour at Bungay this year I don't think I've juggled 3 balls to any extent for at least 5 years (but probably more like 10)
I thought I'd see how much I can still do by starting out with the basics.
* Cascade - that's still there, and my form is as good as it ever was - but endurance is in the toilet.
* Reverse Cascade - about 20 catches maximum, before my left hand starts inexplicably throwing straight up
* Shower - right handed is fine, I seem to be able to run that for as long as I want. Left handed not so much!
* 441 - This is about as solid as Reverse Cascade
* The Box - nope. I can get about one round
* Mills Mess - my arms know what to do, seemingly my hands disagree.
Anything more complex than the above, I can seemingly remember the first throw and have a vague sense of where my hands should go next - but not complete enough to actually make it through a given pattern.
I'm now sure with continued practice at "not juggling" I could probably forget the cascade too.
I'm in two minds if I should carry on the experiment, and see if I truly can forget how to juggle balls entirely... or if I should put some effort in to re-learning stuff now.
You haven’t forgotten. You clearly remember how to juggle and you juggle much better than someone who never learned.
We all get slower and weaker as we become older and, if we keep trying, can watch our performance and endurance deteriorate. However, barring death or brain injuries, I don’t think you or I will ever forget how to juggle.
I think perhaps "forgotten" is a poor choice of words on my part, I've certainly unlearned a lot, and (as you might expect) it's the complex stuff that's faded fastest/furthest.
I understand the theory of all the basic patterns I mentioned, and it's true - I'm probably unlikely to completely forget the theory (especially for the cascade, where the theory amounts to "throw from alternate hands") but the physical knowledge of how to execute them is fading in some cases, and my knowledge of how to fix some basic problems is a lot harder to recall than I was expecting it to be.
There are a lot of 3 ball tricks that I can't bring to mind any more. I know that I used to do some things involving multiplexes, but can't recall the names of the tricks or any more detail than that I remember throwing 2 balls at the same time.
In some cases, I have vague memories of "shapes" or "movements" but no detailed knowledge of where they fit in a pattern or how to get balls to the places where I know my hands should be.
A lot of tricks that I used to be able to do are now known-unknowns to me.
It's a step beyond performance and endurance deteriorating with age/lack of practice. There are juggling patterns that I simply can't recall any more, and probably more that I don't know that I can't recall!
It's an odd realisation to try and convey, and I really don't know what to do with the information.
Should I put the effort in to re-learn things? Or should I "continue the experiment" by not bothering, and see what else I'll have forgotten in 10 years?
For the experiment I'm sure you'll walk into someone who hasn't jugglert for a long time, probably you'll meet him or her before you've forgotten how to juggle...
Also, you're your own worst guinea pig, you already practised a bit recently and you're surrounded by jugglers too regularly!
And at last, juggling is fun, don't force yourself to give it up!
So I vote for : relearn your skills, and document that!
I guess kit summers got a book and a load of motivational speaking gigs out of relearning how to juggle...
He he . Keeping learning and keeping physically active are important for mental and physical health. Learning new things might be more satisfying than relearning old things. Discovering new things might be even better.
I've got plenty of other things to keep my body/brain active... slightly too many if I'm honest, I should stop doing so much!
Perhaps I'll just move some old juggling balls onto my desk and see what happens.
Agreed. I would think it becomes blunt over time. A good thorough sharpening will bring it back to life.
I've barely juggled for the past 2 years. I made a few throws at Bungay, just to see what would happen. I was unsurprisingly awful but I think for different reasons. The muscle memory is still there but the memory I have is of different muscles. I'm quite a bit stronger & leaner than I was 2 years ago. I'm a different shape & my range of motion has changed. While I can remember what to do the feel of everything is completely different for me.
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