Lesson Plans for Juggling Class

Why have juggling classes? 

Juggling provides a model for motor skills development.  The simple stepwise patterns are a paradigm for learning complex physical activities. Each student can move at his or her own pace in a self-regulated, problem-solving format, with automatic reinforcement at every level of accomplishment. Every new move or piece of equipment poses a challenge to the student. Each student builds his or her own repertoire through a process leading from awareness through interest and exploration to experimentation, refinement and consolidation of skills.

© The Complete Juggler by Dave Finnigan

 Learning juggling skills should be self-paced.  Environmental demands are removed.  Students work without time pressure, since there is no standard for comparison except each individual’s previous level of accomplishment.  Juggling can serve as an eye-hand training program for students in every sport.  For those with learning disabilities or with emotional/attitudinal problems, it is ideal. It can improve ability to cross the midline, work bilaterally and concentrate on a task.  General objectives for juggling students include but need not be limited to:

1.     Improvement in eye-hand coordination 

2.     Development of accuracy in throwing and catching

3.     Improvement in reflexes, timing, rhythm and balance

4.     Development of concentration and focus

5.     Improvement in self-confidence, poise and stage presence

6.     Development of team work and teaching skills

(Eventually, through the introduction of this learning paradigm, each student can become a teacher, assisting others through the same process)

 Juggling is a safe activity in which boys and girls are equally adept. It is a non-contact sport or recreational activity that can be carried out by an individual or a team.  It can take place outdoors or in.  It is exhilarating and fun and a great break in routine. I urge my students to practice for at least 20 minutes and tell them to practice to music to get a sense of rhythm. And to remember that dropping is a sign of progress. Juggling is an aerobic workout so every class is preceded by a 5 minute warm-up period and by stretching to limber the spine.  Students should dress in loose, comfortable clothing.  All classes will have background music.  If anyone has gone through the mastering of 3 balls and I feel that they are ready, I will teach them to juggle rings and clubs. An effective plan is to spend 40 minutes sessions over 5 consecutive days.  Sixty to ninety percent will be able to complete 10 throws with 3 balls. Depending on the number of students, more time is sometimes needed.

 Primary Grades K-3 (Lessons 1-2) 3 grade and up every lesson

 Lesson 1

Equipment – one ball per student

Objectives – To improve throwing and catching skills, to gain confidence in using

both hands, begin to learn multiple task sequences

Teaching steps:  demonstrate steps

a)     throw and catch using one hand then the other

b)     throw with one hand and catch with other

c)     throw, clap, catch with other hand

d)     throw, clap, clap, catch with the other hand

e)     throw, clap under leg and catch with the other hand and so on

f)      throw, turn all the way around and catch with other hand, etc.

 Lesson 2

Equipment – 2 balls per student

Objectives –  To be able to keep two balls moving, to see and understand the

the cascade pattern as preparation for 3 balls

Teaching steps:  demonstrate steps

a)     start with two balls in your favorite hand, throw one up,   when it gets to the top, throw the other one

b)     throw around in a circle, throw the first one out toward the side, when it peaks throw the second in the same arc, keep them going in a circle

c)     throw in circle from outside to the center

d)     do each of these 3 moves with the other hand

e)     hold a ball in one hand, throw the first across like a big letter “x”, when it gets to the top throw the second up and across the other way; catch the first, pause, catch the second

Remember every throw is a count.  When you throw 1 ball you say to yourself “1”, then “2”, then “3.”  This helps with timing.

 Lesson 3

Equipment – 3 balls per student

Objectives – to be able to throw and catch three balls, to see what has to

  be done to keep going with 3 balls

Teaching steps:  demonstrate steps

a)     start with 2 balls in your dominant hand. #1 is held loosely on the finger tips, #2 is in the other hand and #3 is deep in the dominant hand.                                    

b)     Toss #1, toss #2, catch #1, toss #3 and let #2 and #3 fall

c)     Toss #1, toss #2, catch #1, toss #3, catch #2 and let #3 fall

d)     Toss #1, #2, catch #1, toss #3, catch #2, #3


These are the 3 lessons for basic pre-juggling skills.

  Lesson 4         

Equipment – 3 balls

            Objectives – to be able to juggle 3 balls continuously; to be able to adjust erratic throws, to juggle big and slow and small and fast.

Teaching steps – Start with hand that has two balls in it, throw across your body with an “X”.

Every time a ball hits the top of the pattern, you throw another one and you don’t stop.  

 Lesson 5 – Juggling 3 balls with a partner

            Objectives – to be able to juggle 3 balls continuously between two people; to be

                                    able to juggle with your partner with 3 balls using either hand

            Teaching steps – Have partners stand side by side.  The person on the left uses the

                                                left hand and one ball.  The person on the right uses the

                                                right hand and two balls.  The person with 2 balls starts first.

 Lesson 6 – Tricks

a)     reverse cascade    

b)     columns

 Lesson 7 – More tricks

a)     under leg and behind the back

b)     to kick the ball into a juggling pattern

 Lesson 8 – Tricks – a shower pattern, claw

 Lesson 9 – Juggling 6 with a partner

            Objective – to be able to keep 6 balls going between two students