JK's Contact Juggling Tutorial Part 1
So, you've decided that you want to give this "contact juggling" thing a try. Contact juggling is an art form that takes a lot of dedication. That means practicing and lots of it. I seriously believe that ANYONE can learn to CJ. Before you start, you must first realize that two things will challenge your journey toward CJing mastery; heckling and frustration. The first isn't that bad if you do mostly ball rolling (palmspinners just have to keep a library of smart-ass remarks at hand). The second can be a big problem for some people. If you're having A LOT of trouble with a move then just stop and forget about it. A few days or weeks later, when you have a lot more ball control, you will remember the trick and master it in 20 minutes. It works.
Balls Well, now to the actual tutorial. The first that you are going to need is a ball (obviously ). Probably the easiest ball to find that will work is a tennis ball. Just in case you have some weird exotic balls around the house, here are the desirable properties of a CJ ball; round, smooth, "can't tell if it's rolling", heavy, 2"-3" diameter. I was lucky when I wanted to start CJing (still haven't seen the Labyrinth) since I had some money. I hopped right over to ReneagadeJuggling.com and bought 3 2" acrylic balls. They sucked for body rolling. Later, I went back and bought 2 3" balls. I love 'em. However, a tennis ball will work for learning almost any basic CJ trick and are a LOT cheaper.
The Butterfly The butterfly is the foundation of ball rolling. It took me weeks to get a jerky one down solid. The first step to learning this basic (yet mesmerizing) move is to learn the holds (and learn them well). The first hold is in the palm, the palm hold is easy but just remember that you can't close your fingers around the ball (MM:"I might rob it of it's special energies"). The audience must be able to see the ball at all times. The second hold is called the cradle, and it is held on the back of your hand. To do this hold, slightly lower your middle finger and place the ball toward the base of your fingers. After some practice, you should be able to throw and catch cradles as well as make PB&J sandwiches at the same time:-). After you have the holds learned pretty well, you are ready to start learning the actual butterfly. Do a palm hold (like you are holding a tray at a fancy restaurant ), then toss the ball in a low arc to your left (if you are right handed). Catch the ball in the cradle and throw it back to the palm. If you can do this with ease, then you are ready to learn the actual butterfly. All you have to do is lower the arc a bit and try to make your hand move under the ball. You are actually throwing the ball and then following it from underneath with your hand. Since there is friction, the ball will roll on your hand even though it was thrown.
The Back-back Transfer Have you learned the butterfly yet? If not, thats okay this move involves a lot of cradle control however. To learn the back-back transfer, start with a ball in your right cradle. Next, place your other hand under the first and slightly more away from you. The palm-side of your right wrist should be touching the cradle side of your left wrist. Look at your left cradle and without moving your hands a whole lot try to roll the ball into it. If you focus on the target of a roll then the ball usually finds a way to get there. If the ball keeps rolling off the fingertips of your left hand then tilt them up a little.
The Front Arm Roll The front arm roll is a strange trick because some people learn it in ten minutes or a couple of weeks. It took me the later to learn this move. The front is where you start with the ball in the palm of your hand with your forearm perpendicular to your chest. Then the ball is rolled up your arm to your elbow and back down to your palm. The most common problem that people have with learning this trick that the ball falls off at the wrist. The easiest way to correct this is to give a quick but small forward jerk of the forearm before you start the roll. This will get the ball over the wrist and start its journey to the elbow. Focus on the elbow (look at it!). If you feel the ball start to drift to the right side of your arm, rotate you arm about 20 degrees to the right. If you feel the ball start to drift to the left side, do the opposite. When it gets close to elbow, start to slow it down by tilting you arm SLIGHTLY forward. After its moving toward the palm, look at your palm and catch it.
Problems If you are having trouble with these tricks then keep practicing them before you move on. You'll probably be able to do some of the more advanced move, but your performance of them will be bad. For example, I am just now making my palm-palm transfers look good for the audience. I used subconsciously combine to P-p pass and the cheater's p-p pass into one trick. This hid the view of the ball from the audience. I had developed the habit early when I wrote off the palm-palm transfer as being a really simple trick. So don't pick up bad habits because they WILL come back to haunt you.