There are a few questions that we get every time someone is learning to juggle, so we took some time to address them!
How do I start? Juggling is all about technique, so it’s important to first make sure your form is correct and you’re able to start to gain control over each touch of the ball. We recommend starting with the ball in your hands and first isolating either the left or right foot. Take one touch, catch, and repeat. Make sure to practice with both feet. Once you’re comfortable taking consistent touches back up into your hands, you can aim to string together 2 touches, 3 touches, and so on. Juggling with the thighs is typically easier for most people to learn than juggling with the feet, but it’s crucial to learn with the feet. For that reason, we recommend learning to juggle using both feet and both thighs when you start. You’ll likely need all of those surfaces to get your first 10 juggles.
How high should I hit the ball each time? If you’ve watched soccer players juggle, you’ve likely seen touches of all types and heights. For a beginner, each touch should be around waist or chest height. As you get more comfortable, you’ll likely take smaller touches with more backspin. Part of the key to learning to juggle is to learn to control the height of each touch.
How should I position my foot? To juggle, often you’ll be instructed to “lock your ankle.” What does that even mean?!
The goal is to create a flat surface for the ball to connect with that doesn’t move or change as the ball hits. So if you stand on one leg and bend your kicking knee slightly, you’ll need to make sure your shoe laces are parallel to the ground. That way, when the ball makes contact, it’ll go straight back up into the air. If your toes are pulled too far back towards your shin, you’ll likely have too much backspin on the ball, and it will come towards your body. If your toes are pointed too far down to the ground, you’ll have to chase the ball forward after each touch. There’s no perfect way to describe or demonstrate the form for juggling that will help a player figure it out more quickly. A lot of it is trial and error and just taking as many touches as possible while attempting to repeat the ones that work!
Am I doing it right? The ball is your best feedback. You can have a coach watch you and help you tweak your form, but at the end of the day, if you can keep the ball up in the air, you’re doing something right! If you notice the ball spinning a lot or not going straight into the air, that’s your cue that your foot is positioned wrong, or you aren’t connecting through the middle of the ball. Learning to juggle is a lot about learning to self-correct. On your first couple of days, you will likely be chasing the ball a lot—don’t give up!
How long should it take to learn? You should not expect to have much success at first! You have to go through the process of practicing many hours in order to feel that you’re finally “getting it.” Many players look for hacks or quick fixes to get better, but there really is no shortcut or no magic answer. Consistent practice is key. In order to get your first 10 juggles, you should expect to practice about 20-30 minutes a day for about a week. Some players may progress more quickly. Other players may take several months to achieve their first 10 juggles. The key is patience and persistence. Players often make the mistake of giving up before they’ve allowed themselves to feel that first breakthrough of improvement. Stick with it!
How do I know if I’m improving? A great way to gauge your improvement is to keep track of your personal best - overall, with your right foot, left foot, both feet, etc. You may practice for long periods of time and not feel much noticeable improvement. That’s totally normal -- don’t get discouraged! Over the weeks and months you should be able to count your score and see marked progress. Techne Time Trials help track various juggling skills.
Do shoes matter? Some players get used to juggling in a certain pair of shoes or with a certain soccer ball and find it more difficult if they change those. That’s completely fine at first and the more comfortable you are while juggling, the more you’ll be able to vary your footwear. Indoor soccer shoes, cleats, or running shoes are all good options to learn to juggle. We recommend not learning barefoot or in untied shoes or sandals. That can change your form or even hurt your feet. So grab your favorite pair of soccer or running shoes, your favorite ball, and get to work!