Juggling Blind-folded

I recently tried juggling blind-folded -- I was amazed that, within a couple hours, I could get up to 10 or 20 catches fairly easily (3-ball cascade). I thought it'd be *much* harder. Some notes:

Here's what the net.experts have to say on this topic.

Note: Alan "Crunchy Frog" Morgan reports having seen Jonathan Shaffer doing a blind Mills Mess. You have been warned.

Alan "Crunchy Frog" Morgan

Speaking as the net.record-holder of the 3 balls blind I feel I am marginally qualified to comment here. If you keep the throws fairly low and controlled it isn't too hard to make "perfect" throws. It isn't actually necessary to have the balls land in the exact center of your palm every time, I make a huge number of fingertip catches when juggling blind.


Kaskade magazine had an article about this approximately two years ago or so. They suggested watching only the peaks, then watching the shadows cast upon a wall, then finally closing your eyes....gradually realizing how unnecessary the sense of sight is for some things by weaning yourself away...


What I do, at least (current personal record's 72 throws, which isn't that good, but I'm working on it..) is just find somewhere comfortable to sit, in front of a blank (or featureless, at least) wall, and juggle; as time passes, my hands get more and more into the rhythm of juggling, and eventually (say, 10 minutes or so) I'll get a good run in. (with my eyes shut, that is; it's much easier than a blindfold, which needs removing to retrieve drops.. That's a point; use beanbags rather than anything that'll roll off; getting up to retrieve far rolls, for me at least, blows whatever internal rhythms I've built up away. As does jumping around congratulating myself on a good run.. <grin> )

Throws don't have to be perfect; just good enough to reach the hands. After all, if they hit the tips of the fingers, they're retrievable. Throw low and regularly, and after a while the throws will become similar enough that your eyes just don't matter; accuracy to within a hands-size with throws low enough is not that difficult.

but how people do half-showers and such.. eeep!

Lowell Vaughn

Holding the half on the net records list I can say that it's not that much harder than a blind cascade. I learned by taking a few bean bags (more than three) and standing in front of a stage or a bed (a couch or anything like that will do). Set the extra bags down and start juggling. Then close you eyes while you are juggling. After a while you can start with out a large problem. The trick is to have extra right there where you can grab them so you aren't spending all you time looking for bags and to RELAX. It's very easy to think too hard and lose your pattern. Just keep trying and it will come.

Blind juggling is great practice for a lot of things. It helps you get a very stable pattern in a cascade or half shower. I suppose it would help Mills Mess if you could learn it blind...

terry jones

i learned to juggle blind by gradually looking up, so you can't see your hands - you just see the ball's peaks. when you can do this reasonably, just close your eyes briefly in the middle of a cascade.

for longer runs, i found i had to try very hard to relax (as lowell suggests). this might sound like a bunch of new age shit, but i found it much easier if i imagined i could still see the balls. sometimes i imagined that i had an eye in the middle of each palm that could see the incoming ball. ok, so maybe it does sound like a bunch of new age sewage, but it REALLY did help.

try learning this out in the middle of a park. you might be surprised how many people walk by at some distance and call out encouraging remarks to you to keep on trying - of course none of them know you have your eyes closed, and they assume you are learning to do 3 balls. i'd always wave in a friendly and shy novice fashion and then make sure i was doing 5 if i saw them returning from wherever they were headed at some later point.

three clubs is not too hard either.

blind juggling helps you to relax and concentrate on other things about your juggling. for instance, i became very aware of how my weight was distributed on my feet after juggling blind for a while. i also noticed a slight tension in my left shoulder.

try walking (forwards or backwards) in a straight line whilst cascading 3 with your eyes closed. steve ragatz and i did this a bit about a year ago - it's fun to see people head off at various strange angles and then be completely surprised when they open their eyes. or try walking to some distant point and see how close you can get.

blind juggling for a bunch of people is hard if you have to make yourself relax in order to be able to do the trick. i was street performing in sydney last christmas and kids loved "three balls and no eyes". i'd count to three and close my eyes in the middle of a cascade. once one shifty looking youngster started edging towards the hat as i counted. i got to 3 and then didn't close my eyes and he lunged forward. i laughed at him, emptied the hat into my pocket and did the trick.

phil san miguel of purdue was fascinated by blind juggling when i told him i was doing a lot of it. his solution to the "blindfold" or "closed eyes" dilemma was to try and gouge out my one remaining good eye with the broken dowel of a softclub. he and i spent an enjoyable afternoon at purdue earlier this year playing blind combat across the street from his house. i thought it was great fun when i went back across the street and lured him out into the oncoming traffic. he took out 2 motorcyclists before he was hit by a greyhound bus.

Allen Knutson

terry jones embarrassedly writes:

  for longer runs, i found i had to try very hard to relax (as lowell
  suggests). this might sound like a bunch of new age shit, but i found
  it much easier if i imagined i could still see the balls. sometimes i
  imagined that i had an eye in the middle of each palm that could see
  the incoming ball. ok, so maybe it does sound like a bunch of new age
  sewage, but it REALLY did help.
I have found this also helpful for working a rola-bola blind (which seems like it shouldn't be visual, but is, frustratingly). However, tray spinning is almost exactly the same blind.

Has anyone else had the phenomenon I had when learning to juggle blind, that it seemed like there was an absurdly long wait before the balls landed in my hand? I attributed it to not being able to see their natural progression up, down. It no longer feels strange to me (ah well).

Boppo (Bruce Tiemann) finds blind showering (not half-showering) easier than blind cascade.

Benjamin S

About juggling blind, I've heard it said that Tony Duncan can run through his entire three ball routine with his eyes shut... and that includes some DIFFICULT stuff.

Tony Duncan is an extremely good, very experienced juggler, for those who don't know. He appeared in the Philadelphia public show last October, and again in the spring sometime. Some of his contact juggling was devised independently of Michael Moschen around the same time.

Jerry Peterson

Also, there's... Use clubs.

I've had pretty good success with this (about 50 throws). It seems easier to me than balls, I suppose because the nice, long handle is not as easy to miss. It's a nice trick to be able to do, when hecklers say, "Well, can you do that with your eyes closed?" and you can. I've also been able to pull off a flourish under a double with my eyes closed.

Bradford J. Linder

I don't exactly expect to be able to compete with him, I'd just like to know what other people out there are doing... I know I'm not that great of a juggler, I'm only 15, and just started two years ago, but information is always nice to have..:) btw- announcement: I did the reverse cascade blind for the first time last night...:) just proud of myself...:) only got about five passes on my best run, but it's something...:)

Also, is it just me, or do other people practicing blind juggling find that, even with your eyes closed, it is more comfortable to work in a dark room? Also, I start out by working in extremely low light, as in with a digital clock providing the only light, for a few minutes before attempting to practice totally blind. Anyone else do that?

mohit bhatnagar

keep practising bradford and probably by the time you are of my age (mere 25) you should be able to do mills mess blindfolded with back of your hands :-) good luck..

I am a novice with whopping 7 months of juggling experience but there are a few things I found useful while trying to do blind fold juggling:

I don't think I am really qualified to give any advise on juggling blind folded since most I can do is a very shabby and ugly rev. cascade but just thought it might be of help to some beginners.

ps: now I can do some juggling in complete dark, my room-mates can sit in a dark room and do nothing but listen to the sound of balls being thrown and caught...

Rob Stone

To get properly 'dark adapted' as in for experiments can take up to 20 mins, it appears to me you are just getting used to low light levels as a step in the right direction. Whatever works for you, personally Im not into blind juggling (well not yet anyway!)

Andrew Conway

  Has anyone ever heard of a blind juggler?  It seems possible.
Neil Stammer once taught scarf juggling to a blind person. I do not know of a blind person ever learning true toss juggling.

Robert Edward Gruhl (Orph)

Hey, here's an update on my previous article about blindfolded juggling.

If you're interested, try an entire session sans vision. It's very different! I found that peeking threw off my blind juggling alot, keep them eyes closed! Here's where I'm at:

cascade: 60ish
over the top: 20ish

Allen Knutson

  (comments on the novel, "Lord Valentine's Castle" by Robert Silverberg)
It's a shame that aside from the passing pattern, so much of the rest of the juggling stuff in the book is so ridiculous. For instance, one of the other troupers does some blind juggling, and Silverberg makes a big deal of him making desperate grasps to catch the clubs he is locating by hearing, as they whistle past his ear.

This mental strain makes the guy really antisocial for a while. "Blind juggling is bad for the soul." This made a great impression on me for many years (i.e. until I learned how to juggle and tried it myself).

Also, at one point Valentine is locked in a room on the Isle of Sleep or something and "would've juggled his boots, but juggling two objects was for fools". How incredibly unimaginative. (Guess he never heard of 1 5 0 : -8 )

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