3 Lessons Learned From My Five Club Breakthrough

Here are three things I learned through practicing for and achieving my five club goal:

1.Step back to move forward. My usual five club practice routine would go something like this: Get clubs out, psyche myself up, throw five clubs in the air, catch a few, drop all of them, get frustrated, go in and watch TV. But recently I decided to take a step back and work on my 4 club juggling. I’ve had a decent triple, single pattern with four but have not been able to keep a steady 2 in each hand, double flip, off sync pattern. This proved more difficult than I would have thought, but practicing in the land of double flips trained my arms nicely for the flips I’d need to nail 5 clubs.

2.Don’t forget to breathe! I think Mr. Miyagi said it best when teaching Daniel how to paint the fence. “Don’t forget to breathe; breathing very important.” Do you ever hold your breath while learning a strenuous new trick? I do. All the time! I don’t know why, but I do. I realized though, that when I was really in my groove, my best, steadiest, 5 club patterns came when I was taking calm steady breaths.

3.No pain; no gain. Maybe I’m just not hard core enough but I rarely get injuries from juggling. When I practiced for a couple of hours and finally achieved my goal, however, I got a pretty nasty blister. We’re talking an, oozing, bleeding, make my wife screech in horror, kind of blister. I guess if you really want something, you have to be willing to go through pain to get it.

5 Clubs, 50 Catches

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A couple weeks ago, when I turned 25, I made a goal: In my 25th year on this planet I would achieve 50 catches with 5 clubs.

“Enough monkey-ing around,” I said to myself. “Stop being a wuss. If you’re a real juggler, prove it!”

I’ve been able to flash 5 clubs for about four years now, but for some reason I haven’t been able to get past a lucky 20 catches. Sure, I had to join the workforce and give up practicing every day. Sure, I got married which stole time away from juggling. Sure, I have plenty of excuses, but the fact is that I felt like I had plateaued as a juggler, that I had lost the ability to learn new things. That’s why, on my 25th birthday I put a stake in the ground and declared that I would achieve something–or else.

The following few days I put some good practice time in but didn’t see a ton of progress. I soon wondered if I would ever achieve this goal and what would happen if I couldn’t. Would it be time to put my juggling stuff away in an old trunk in the garage and reminisce for the rest of my life about the old days when I dabbled in juggling?

Then, last night, a breakthrough!

I was at my parents house for a Chargers/Patriots game and for some reason my dad had hooked up a TV outside in his backyard. I took advantage of being outside and started practicing with my clubs. I warmed up for a while and then out of nowhere it came: 50 perfect throws and 50 steady catches. What I thought wouldn’t happen for months and months, what I’ve tried to do for five years–happened.

I did it.

The odd but cool thing was that it felt just like the first time I did a successful under-the-leg catch with three balls when I was 12. It felt just like it did when I performed in front of an audience for the first time. It felt good. And it helped me remember why I juggle.