Practice Systems for Juggling: Completing Halves

Practice System 3: Completing Halves


Completing Halves is a system that, like Five Lives, is also set as a game. Similar to Five Lives, it is designed to work on solidifying one pattern. The advantage to this system is that it can last as long as you want it to last. If you only have 5 minutes, it can last five minutes. Likewise, if you want to train your one trick for an hour, then this could also work for you. This system is rough and ready to go: simple and effective.


Below is an example of Completing Halves using 5 ring pancakes:

1. Make and attempt at your longest run with 5 ring pancakes. Let’s say you get 25 catches when you drop.
2. Half the amount to get 12.5, which is rounded up to 13.
3. You know have three attempts to get 13 catches clean.
4. If you achieve this within your three attempts, then return to step 1, constantly trying to beat your personal best. If you do not manage to get your 13 catches clean within three attempts, then half it again to get 6.5, rounded up to 7, and repeat the process again.

This is a very simple system, yet I feel it is very effective. I personally enjoy the fact that it is so simple, and isn’t time dependant.

I hope you enjoy it, and I would very much appreciate any thoughts, feedback and questions that you may have on the subject. Have fun!

Practice Systems for Juggling: Five Lives

Practice System 2: Five Lives


Five Lives is a system that I came up with which is specifically designed for solidifying patterns. Unlike the pyramid system, the amount of throws and catches can change, depending on your skill level that day. An advantage about this system over the pyramid system, is that you cannot fail. Another advantage about this system is that it is quick to complete. I personally find this very useful as I sometimes have to train in limited space facilities. This means that I could just have 20 or 30 minutes spare before I have to move space. This system is perfect for just that situation.


As this is set as a short game, you start with fives lives. Every time a level is not achieved, you go back to the previous level and loos a life. Below is an example of a standard game of Five Lives with 7 balls.

First you set your levels.

7 throws (a flash) = level 1

10 throws = level 2

20 throws = level 3

30 throws = level 4

40 throws = level 5

50 throws = level 6

Etc etc.

Now, you start on level 1. As it is level 1, you have 1 attempt to get your target. If you fail, you loose a life. If you succeed, move onto level 2. Now you are on level 2, you have 2 attempts to achieve your target. If you fail, go back one level to level 1 and loose a life. If you succeed, move onto level 3. This sequence continues until you eventually run out of lives. Take note of your highest level and see if you can beat it next time.

This system can also work hand in hand with the Pyramid System (for explanation of Pyramid System, please see previous article). Once you have died (in the game), remember your highest achievement of that round. Make this the top of your Pyramid System for that day and create your pyramid from the top working down.


My highest achievement in Five Lives today was 30 catches of 7 balls. My pyramid for today could look like this:

30 catches x 1

20 catches x 2

15 catches x 3

10 catches x 4

7 catches x 5

I hope that you have as much fun with this system as I have. If you have any questions or comments then please do leave them below. Thank-you.

Practice Systems for Juggling: Pyramid System

In the ever growing world of juggling, people are improving, at different rates, all over the world. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. The thing that surprises me is that a lot of jugglers are happy to spend hours practicing their hobby, but do not train in a structured and organised manner. I am constantly surprised at people who arrive at the training space, completely unaware of what they intend to practice and how to do it. I am however impressed at the increase of skill made by people with good practice discipline as opposed to those with no or bad practice structure.

As juggling is a huge part of my life, I have spent time trying to find the most efficient way to practice. I understand that not everyone likes to practice in the same way, and that some systems will suit some people more than others, but I have seen some people slog away at a trick for years with no progress, and I am shocked that they haven’t tried to find the reason why. I firmly believe that if you find a practice system that is good for you, then you shouldn’t strictly only stick to that chosen system. I feel it is important to mix things up, try other practice structures and challenge yourself.

I am not the creator of these systems. Some of the systems I have fused with others to develop them in ways that I feel make them stronger. I have also, taken inspiration from some systems, to develop others in ways that are more suitable for me. I’m not claiming that all of these systems are going to work for you.

These methods are starting points for you to test for yourself and see if:

  1. You enjoy them.
  2. See any improvements in your juggling.

I’d be interested to hear about your opinions, experiences and own training methods and how they compare to mine so please leave any comments or feedback below.

Practice system 1: Pyramid system

The Pyramid system is a common and efficient juggling system. Though at times it can be tedious to execute, if you are dedicated to it, you WILL get results. This system is suited mostly to patterns as opposed to tricks. The main goal of this system is to solidify patterns to a consistent level.

Example: 5 clubs

  • 5 catches (a flash) x 10
  • 10 catches x 7
  • 15 catches x 5
  • 20 catches x 3
  • 25 catches x 1

Above is a pretty classic example of a Pyramid system. Obviously the Pyramid will be altered depending on one’s level. You must complete the first layer, in this case the flash x 10, before you proceed to the next level, and so on.

Creating your Pyramid
In order to begin this splendid exercise, you first need to create your perfect Pyramid. I am sure there are many ways to do this, but here is the method that I would use if I was creating a Pyramid for 7 balls.

  1. Find the amount of catches that you know you can achieve. For me, I know I have achieved 100 catches a few times. So this is going to be the top of my pyramid, because if I get this, I will be very happy.
  2. Next, I would work my way down to the second layer, to just over half way. For me I will have 30 catches. This I will have to achieve three times. I go just over half way because I feel that if I waste my energy doing 35 catches, then 40, then 45, that I do not have enough energy to concentrate on the full 100 catches. But that’s just me.
  3. Next I will go down to the third layer which is 20 catches. I will have to achieve this 5 times.
  4. The second to last layer I use is 10 catches this I want to get 7 times. This is the amount I would ideally like to perform.
  5. Finally I get to just a flash. This I try to make as perfect as possible and do this 10 times. As one should always start from the bottom of the Pyramid, the first exercise should be easy, and should act as a warm up for what is to come.

Now that that is my Pyramid designed, I would now have to execute it. Starting at the bottom and working my way up to the top. In doing this I would take regular short breaks (maximum 1 minute) every 5 minutes. If I do not achieve my Pyramid that day, then that is ok. It’s either too hard for me, or I’m just having a bad day. Give yourself a time limit. If your Pyramid isn’t complete in say 30 minutes, then admit defeat and try again tomorrow.

I hope that this practice method helps in someway. If there are any questions then please email me at

Have fun!

Holding Friends Hostage Proves Useful


Oh, it proves ever so useful. Just strap them down. I prefer to use straightjackets, double reinforced cotton duck. Or if you find yourself without, and following a theme (I love themes) use duct tape. In this case tape them to their chairs. I am also fond of packaging twine. Thin yet strong these little wonders are very deceptive. Bonus – got some old dentist chairs lying around? They allow you to strap their heads back so they’re always facing towards your stage. They won’t be going anywhere. Now you have yourself a captive audience. If you feed them and promise to release them unharmed they also might provide you with some (honest?) feedback.

Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy the show!

This gives you a chance to improve, to work out an idea you’ve had, to stretch out something to an extreme to see if it works. It’s like a mini workshop. You want to try out a new character you been batting around your head for a month, whip it out. Want to see if that extra flip or stunt will fly or flop with the audience, let ‘er rip. How about that secret new act you’ve honed on your own, shine baby shine!

Performing in front of your friends isn’t just a great workshop it’s also great chance for simple practice in front of an audience. Cirque and Sideshow performing is still performing and some still have stage fright. Wonderful point here is that with your bondaged audience members they really are captive and they aren’t going anywhere, so you have no fear of someone getting up and leaving for any reason. Potty breaks are just going to have to wait. You can relax, breathe. Take an extra moment and then start. Adrenalin will be pumping and half working against you in this respect, so just breathe.

Friends are wonderful, so giving, so accommodating, so selfless in giving up their time without hardly having to be asked. Their gift to you is your extra preparation and workout with your art, act, and self. *Just allow an hour of lead time to catch and tie down said friends.

(*this blog is assuming an audience of 5-10 friends, depending on how fast they all are)

Poor Lighting

Being able to deal with less than idea conditions has been massively helpful to me over the years, particularly in the past few weeks on tour where there is little time to spend worry about lights after the get in and prop setting has been done.

Poor lighting affects almost all circus disciplines but none more so than juggling.

Here are a few training methods (some more useful than others) to help you train for poor lighting:

Practice in sunglasses
Practice directly under a bright light
Set up a bright lamp to shine in your eyes
Practice in low level lighting
Practice outdoors on a sunny day
Run your routine with someone switching on and off the lights
Practice with one eye shut (I’ve had to do a routine immediately after being accidentally poked in the eye!).
Practice with both eyes shut (are there tricks you can do blind, if so can you take advantage of this on stage?!)

Any suggestions? I’d love to hear how you train for poor lighting, leave a comment!