Don’t Screw Up

Here is a tip for new performers that will dramatically improve their success on stage. This simple technique is what separates amateurs from professionals. One little thing makes the difference between success and failure. Here it is: Don’t screw up!

The biggest mistake I see amateur jugglers make the most often is to attempt tricks that they can not do regularly in practice. If you have not mastered something, then it has no place on stage.

In performance you have so many factors working against you: there are lights in your eyes, you have people watching, you may be tired and/or have sweaty hands. You may not have the same ceiling height as you do in your practice space. The ceiling color might be distracting or blend in with your props making them difficult to see. There could be wind blowing. You may feel time pressures that don’t exist when you practice.

Most importantly of all, you need to be able to pay attention to the audience while you are on stage doing your thing. You need to have attention to spare. The only way to be able to work the audience is to hold your relationship with them as the most important thing that is going on.

Ultimately, they don’t really care how many pirouettes you do, or the number of objects that you can keep in the air. They want to get to know you. It is not the intensity of the trick that they want, it’s you. If you leave them emotionally, then they will withdraw from you.

But, if you drop too much, they will feel sorry for you. They will turn away. You could be doing 5 club back-crosses, drop once, and have them thinking that you are a lousy juggler. Or you could perform a simple, yet drop-less, three ball routine to a Beatles medley and they will pass your Youtube video around to all of their friends.

I am not saying that continuous improvement and awesome tricks are unimportant. On the contrary, it is the truly difficult stuff that seems miraculous and can transport your audiences to places they have never been. I just want to point out that after a couple of drops, it doesn’t matter how great you are, an uneducated audience will never know.

Brad Weston is a writer, juggler, and performance teacher from way back. For more information about him and his work check out his website at

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