Tag Archives: juggling balls

Kids and acrobatics

AcroYoga pose called Hangle Dangle. Source: Earl McGehee

Acroyoga pose called Hangle Dangle. Source: Earl McGehee

I don’t have any kids of my own, but if I did, I would take their physical education as seriously as their intellectual development. After all, active kids are not only healthy kids, they generally tend to do better in school. This is why athletics are so important for kids and adults alike.

In order to get more kids interested in fitness, we should broaden what we consider to be athletics. The focus in schools is often on boring old calisthenics, team sports or track, and I think this is very limiting. I believe widening the scope of athletics to include acrobatics can help kids find the fitness activity that is right for them. It can also accommodate children who are not inclined to play team sports for whatever reason. If kids aren’t having fun with what they’re doing, they won’t stick to it. Many people don’t see acrobatics as athletic, but I do. How are the abilities of trapeze artists, tight-rope walkers, or jugglers not athletic?

What is probably the biggest stumbling block to wider acceptance of acrobatics as athletics is acrobatics close association with the circus. This association is unfortunate since the world of acrobatics offers so many fun ways to stay fit that can either be the mainstay of you or your child’s athletic routine, or a supplement to it. And before anyone mentions it, I am not recommending you or your kids take up acrobatic daredevilry.

Juggling is arguably the best gateway to this world, and it’s a safe(unless you juggle chainsaws), fun athletic activity in and of itself. It’s definitely a step forward that more schools are including juggling and acrobatics in their physical education programs. Acroyoga is another excellent way to practice acrobatics. Not surprisingly, juggling and/or acrobatics is linked with improved academic scores. The more options kids have when it comes to athletics, the better.

Contest reminder

The Wild Juggling 1 year anniversary contest is still on. Enter to win some quality juggling balls. Sorry, U.S residents only.

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

The Wild Juggling Anniversary Contest!

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MMX balls. 2 orange, 1 red.

To celebrate the 1st anniversary of Wild Juggling, I decided to have a contest. I am sorry, but it is only open to followers who live in the U.S. The prize is 3 quality juggling balls. They are MMX balls, about medium size, and are great for both beginners and experienced jugglers. They are rubber balls stuffed with millet. They hardly bounce.

Hey, if you were expecting a free trip to the French Riviera, then you are on the wrong blog. The balls are in relatively good condition since I rarely use them. I have so many spare juggling balls that most don’t get used very often, except sometimes by family members or friends who I try to teach.

The contest is:

If you could be any animal for one day, which animal would you be? And why? Explain in as many words as you want. A panel of judges(okay, only me) will choose the winner based on whoever writes the most interesting little essay.

I’ll decide over the next few days who the winner is. If you don’t know how to juggle, you can use these balls to learn, so you don’t have to know how to juggle to take part in this contest.

The shipping is free and I hope the winner enjoys the balls. I will announce the winner and contact them by email(if their email is available). If their email is not available then they should contact me.

Thanks to all my followers!

Can you relieve stress with juggling?

For me, the answer is definitely yes, but this isn’t evidence that it can help others deal with stress. Few things are like juggling 3 or 4 balls, and doing tricks to forget about certain stressful problems or to gain a different perspective on them. It puts me into a different brain zone where it seems problems are both smaller and more manageable. Indeed, effectively dealing with various responsibilities and stressful problems is not unlike a juggling act.

What does science have to say about this? We are very fortunate that some scientists did put the title question of this post to the test and did some good, though preliminary research: Effect of juggling therapy on anxiety disorders in female patients published in Biopsychosoc Med. 2007; 1: 10:

After 6 months, an analysis of variance revealed that scores on the state anxiety, trait anxiety subscales of STAI and tension-anxiety (T-A) score of POMS were significantly lower in the juggling group than in the non-juggling group (p < 0.01). Depression, anger-hostility scores of POMS were improved more than non-jugglers. In the juggling group, activity scores on the vigor subscale of POMS and FAI score were significantly higher than those in the non juggling group (p < 0.01). Other mood scores of POMS did not differ between the two groups.

These findings suggest that juggling therapy may be effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

This sounds promising, but this study did have many limitations. For one thing, it involved only 17 people, all of them female. Also, the effect from the juggling may be due to the juggling helping the test subjects relax; any other relaxation therapy may have achieved the same results. Similarly, juggling is a form of light exercise, which can also help relieve anxiety. Unlike yoga or meditation, juggling does increase gray matter in the brain, possibly in a manner that may make it more resistant to stress or depression, although this is speculation on my part. After all, a person whose brain is more “adaptive” is probably better able to adapt to stressful conditions. I think the control/non juggling group in this study should have done light aerobic exercise, to see how juggling compares to exercise in general.

There is also the issue of EMDR therapy that was covered in the study:

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been consistently evaluated as effective for treating several anxiety disorders, inclucing PTSD [6], panic disorders [7], and phobias [8]. Although conflicting data has been reported for the efficacy of EMDR [9], this therapy is considered to be of low to moderate level of efficacy [10]. Originally, research on this therapy found that moving the eyes rapidly in a side-to-side motion reduced disturbing thoughts and related anxiety [11].

So rapidly moving the eyes side-to-side, all by all by itself can help relieve anxiety? That is intriguing. I suggest reading the full study since there is a lot of interesting information in there. This research is promising, but a lot more needs to be done.

Which juggling balls are best?

I am often asked which juggling balls are best. I will review various types of balls to answer as thoroughly as possible:

1) MMX balls – Rubber balls filled with birdseed and closed with a small plug. Comes in 3 sizes. These are like a compromise between rubber balls and beanbags, and are very popular with jugglers. While not my favorite, these are generally good to juggle with and have virtually no bounce. A few times while juggling with them, the plug almost came out of one of the balls. Luckily, pushing the plug back in deeper than before has resolved this. Very durable and pretty squeezable.

2) Sil-X balls – Rubber balls injected with liquid silicon, and has a plug similar to the MMX balls. Popular with many jugglers, these are fine but sometimes feel a bit awkward in my hands. They seem to have a little bit of bounce to them. They wobble a little bit. Durable, and my preferred joggling ball when weather conditions are very wet. The plugs on these things has never come lose. Mine have taken a real beating while joggling outside and seem very durable. They are moderately squeezable.

3) Beanbags – By far the best. This is what I joggle with the most. Often made from leather or imitation leather, sewn together and stuffed with birdseed. They have no bounce and feel perfect in my hands and their weight is just right. Unfortunately, not as durable as the other types of balls and not good to joggle with in wet weather. Very squeezable.

4) Lacrosse balls – Used by some jugglers and jogglers, they have a lot of bounce and are slightly heavy. I don’t recommend them for juggling or joggling. Due to their bounciness some bounce jugglers will use them as cheaper alternatives to more expensive silicon balls. Not squeezable.

5) Hockey balls – Too light to be used for juggling or joggling. Made from very firm plastic and not squeezable at all.

6) Tennis balls – Though they are the right size for most adults, they are too light and bouncy for most forms of juggling. However, you can make a slit in one and stuff it with pennies or birdseed to add some weight to it.  Doing this to tennis balls can make them excellent for juggling.(To the right is a photo of a tennis ball stuffed with pennies and covered in duct tape. It weights about 1 lb and is used to help build arm endurance during indoor juggling exercise rather that outside joggling).

I have no connection to any of the manufacturers or sellers of these balls. I didn’t receive any of them for free, I paid for them with my own money.