Juggling has been around for millennia. There is evidence that it was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and it was practiced extensively in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. It’s also captured a special place in the hearts of the American public, as a popular circus act and sideshow attraction.
But few realize the valuable and far-reaching benefits that learning to juggle can have, both physical and mental. Juggling is a physically active pastime that has been shown to improve hand-eye coordination and motor skills, as well as ambidexterity, as the hands must move independently of one another.
Those who learn to juggle also improve their cognitive abilities. Juggling is actually very mathematically complex, and jugglers must understand the patterns of the flying balls, set targets for where to throw and do so accurately, and must keep a steady rhythm throughout. Kinesthetic and physically active learners tend to be more adept at juggling, picking it up quickly before passing the skill on to others.
A landmark study showed that mastering juggling can actually increase the amount of grey matter in certain areas of the brain, dealing specifically with processing and storing visual information.
Juggling has also been used in schools nationwide to reach through to high-risk or truant students. Juggling is a way to get through to hard-to-reach children and motivate them to try something new. Learning how to juggle helps the children develop crucial learning skills that can be transferred to any other activity or challenge. Juggling teaches focus, practice, careful observation, and problem solving. The students must break the ‘problem’ down into its component parts, then gradually combine the parts to perform the act. It also teaches about perseverance, as the students must work through the dropped balls in order to succeed.
Juggling also functions well as a stress-relief activity. Juggling, because it requires careful coordination of body and mind, promotes a state of being called ‘relaxed concentration.’ Afterwards, the mind feels refreshed and less stressed.