If you want to tackle juggling five balls, some people say it’s an important step to no longer being a hack juggler. And by “some people” I mean Jason Garfield.
Jason Garfield says, “Most hack jugglers juggle no more than 5 balls and 4 clubs. Most good jugglers perform the juggling of 7 balls, 7 rings and 5 clubs.”
Not everyone agrees jugglers need to juggle five balls to be taken seriously.
Carlo (Carl Lewis) writes in The Juggling Book (1974):
Seeing how human nature is, it might be better not to get involved in the Numbers Game at all. It seems to be a kind of dead end. No satisfactory place is reached with it, and some of the greatest jugglers in the world have almost lost their sanity by getting too hung up on how many objects they could handle successfully. There are, as you have seen, plenty of things to do with just three objects, no more than three and no less.
I’d say it’s good to explore five balls, but it’s possible to put on a good show by juggling only three balls. (Or even juggling one ball.) Here’s the thing: There are a lot of hack jugglers who can get four balls in the air — but it’s not pretty. Maybe Jason Garfield experiences the same thing when he sees performances of sloppy attempts at five balls.
But Carlo also understands the importance of pushing your limits. He writes: “Never be satisfied with one level of proficiency, saying, ‘Well, I am a juggler now, since I can do this and that.’ There is no end to this study.”
Learning four balls will improve your three ball juggling, just like five balls will help your three ball juggling. At the same time, I’m finding that working on advanced three-ball variations is helping my five-ball juggling.
Dick Franco, in his foreword to Kit Summers’s Juggling With Finesse, says (in 1987), “Numbers juggling, i.e., juggling with 5 or more objects, has up until the last few years been considered by many to be a sort of no man’s land to the amateur or hobbyist juggler. This type of juggling was left to the seasoned working professional.”
Now that more people have seen five balls juggled, and know that it’s possible (Thanks, YouTube!), maybe five balls is the new four.
Kit Summers offers perhaps the most practical view: “… don’t think that you have to juggle a large number of objects to have fun with juggling. You can also have a great time with 3 objects. When performing, easier tricks done with a lot of style and showmanship go over much better than a trick done sloppily and uncaringly. Hard tricks or numbers done with a great deal of style can be even more impressive.”