Juggling 101: Routine

A routine is one of, if not the most, essential aspect of a live, juggling performance. Although knowing hundreds of technically difficult tricks will be of some assistance, flair is far from required. Although the task of building a routine from scratch may seem like pushing a boulder up a mountain, it can be broken down and completed before you know it.

Instead of looking at the blank slate, it is better to take a look at what you know. Take a few minutes now to write down the moves you can perform with confidence. This will give you a clear reference, so you won’t second guess if you’ve forgotten that really cool palmspin isolation you’ve practiced for months. After writing the list, write a letter next to each move.

Moves that I, Floyd, can confidently perform:

A: Butterfly
B: Squeeze Ups
C: Inner elbow stall
D: Halfpipe
E: Circles
F: Circle Toss Thingie
G: Back to Palm
H: Palm to Back
I: Edson’s Enigma
J: Floating Enigma
K: Three Finger Hold

The importance of assigning a letter is so that you can write your own routine string, which is a great way to write your routine down on paper for future reference. It’s also because I’m a geek and I like long running lists of characters. Sue me.

What you want to do now is to find two-letter combinations that flow well. You want to look closely, and examine how smooth the transition is from one move to the other.

An example of good flow would be HA, since the Palm-to-back ends with the ball at the back of the hand in the cradle, which is the beginning of the butterfly. It’s also important to understand that flow is fairly personal. I can’t gracefully flow through AB or KI, so I probably wouldn’t use that combination in a routine.

Now, after you find several two-letter combinations that flow well, it’s time to piece them together. Here are a few combinations that worked well for me.


If I were to begin with a routine with Squeeze Ups (B), then I could start with BJ. I only have one other combination that starts with J, so I would follow with JI, giving me BJI. I continue this process until I have BJIKEHAGCAK.

This is, essentially, the routine itself. I never have done all of those moves in order, but I know they flow well since I tested each transition individually. Sure, there are a few things left, such as practicing the routine and deciding on which creative commons music to use on your YouTube video, but you’ve pushed that boulder over the mountain. It’s all downhill from here.

Note: I’ll have a YouTube video of this routine up soon. Apparently, they have this “SuperBowl” thing that distracts males like myself around this time each year.


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