Beginner Ball Spinning Tutorial

Ball spinning has been a popular form of juggling for well over a hundred years. In this article, I’ll attempt to teach you how to spin a ball, do arm curls, and spin two balls on one finger.

Finding A Ball

The first challenge can be to find a good ball. Here are several recommendations. First, you can try to find a rubber soccer / football.  Rubber balls are very hard to find, but you can find them online by doing an internet search.  Another idea is to make a triple-walled beach ball. Buy three large beach balls for about a dollar a piece. Cut out the circle around the inflation nozzle of two of them. Take the intact one, roll it up, and insert it into the hole of one of the others. Make sure the nozzle sticks out the hole of the outside one. Inflate this and make sure things are lined up okay. Then deflate, roll that double walled ball up and stick it in the third ball the same way. Then you have a heavy, visual, and cheap spinning ball. It can be a bit slick, but you can learn to deal with it fairly easily. A third option is to the buy a slo-mo / cando ball. You can find them on amazon, although I do have to say that the ones they sell now are much heavier and not as nice as the ones that used to be available. If you’re willing to put a little work into it, you can find a rubber basketball and sand it smooth. This makes a great spinning ball. Finally, there are currently at least three spinning balls being manufactured for the juggling community. Play, Mister Babache, and Radfactor spinning balls are all available online. Of these three, I’ve only tried the Radfactor ball. While it’s smaller than I typically prefer, it did have a nice balance and feel and worked well.

Learning The Basic Spin

Spin the ball in the “juggler’s direction” instead of the basketball player’s direction. This means hold the ball with your thumb pointing to the left (if you’re using your right hand) and turn your hand to spin it so that the thumb swings toward you and ends up pointing to the right. Toss the ball up just a few inches. Bring your hand down as you catch the ball on the fleshy part of the fingertip so that you grip it, but also absorb the impact so it doesn’t bounce off. Immediately transfer the ball to your fingernail so the ball will spin longer. Use your pointer finger. Most people learn with a slightly under inflated ball. Make sure the axis of the ball is perfectly vertical and lands with your fingertip on that axis point. Keep your elbow next to your body.

Arm Curls

Note that the proper form includes the ball going up and down and the arm going around the ball. There should be very little lateral movement of the ball. As I said, the ball should just be going up and down as much as possible.

Two Ball Spin Stack

The other trick that everyone wants to learn is a two ball spin stack, spinning two balls on one finger.  The first thing you need to do is to find the right combination of balls that will work together. You typically use a larger and heavier ball for the bottom ball and something at least slightly smaller and lighter for the top ball. The two balls should have a decent amount of grip between them. If you’re using the double or triple walled beach ball or a slo-mo ball, a gertie ball, which can be ordered online, works well as a top ball. Generally speaking, it’s going to take some experimenting to find the right combination of balls that works. You want to spin the bottom ball very fast and stable and then with the other hand, quickly bring the top ball directly above the bottom ball, about an inch above it. You then want to carefully drop the top ball onto the bottom ball, imparting a tiny amount of spin to the top ball in the same direction as the bottom ball spin. You now want to look where the two balls meet and start balancing!

Good luck learning these basic ball spinning skills.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 16 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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