Even basic skills have to be learned and, with the increased popularity of electronic entertainment, many children have lost basic coordination skills. Juggling can help develop those skills.
There are no shortage of distractions for people nowadays, and children are among the most distractible people on the planet. In some ways, this is a good thing; kids are exposed to much more of the world than they were even twenty years ago. But the constant barrage of electronic distractions, from cutting edge video games to plain old cartoons, has had a huge, undeniable impact on kids. It has worked to stunt many skills that were once considered standard. According to juggler James Bustar, “There’s a startling lack of hand-eye coordination among people—young people especially—and juggling helps sharpen this vital skill.”
Bustar is far from the only person who thinks so. Studies have shown that, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a direct coordination between a lack of physical activity and a lack of coordination. Even something as simple as catching a thrown ball—hardly considered a difficult feat—is now slipping away as a common skill. Much like language skills, hand-eye coordination is considered a basic skill, but it isn’t really as simple as it seems. And, also like language skills, the younger you are, the easier it is to learn, and the older you get, the less likely you are to learn these skills.
Physical coordination isn’t something that can be learned, necessarily; it has to be developed, from as young an age as possible. And while many video games do involve a degree of hand-eye coordination—or at least claim to—they don’t actually give children a sense of the world around them. They do give a sense of perception, but for the wrong thing. It gives a sense of perception through a two-dimensional window. While playing mobile games will increase response time to other video games, it doesn’t translate into a three-dimensional world. The rules for real life are more sensitive and difficult than any video game rules, and they have to be learned through experience.
While ball sports are a good place to start increasing coordination, juggling is an activity that is easy to pick up, safe, and appropriate for most age levels. And yet, it requires a speed, coordination, perception, and real dexterity.
Juggling, like many activities that involve high levels of physical and hand-eye coordination, is also an effective stress-reliever, regardless of age. It’s long been known that physical activity has a strong, almost therapeutic effect on people. This is especially true when, like juggling, the activity requires a good deal of mental focus. Because it requires a keen sense of attention to the world in front of them. Not only is this a skill that is unfortunately lacking among the youth of many developed nations, it also helps people get out of their heads.
A lot of stress comes from an unhealthy focus on distracting, scary, or otherwise unpleasant thoughts. By forcing you to interact with the world with rapid-fire precision, an act as basic as juggling will draw the mind away from these thoughts. There’s a reason that sports are among the most popular stress-relievers worldwide; they put you into a different, more present-oriented state of mind.
Speaking of sports, juggling is also an excellent addition to most cross-training regimens. It is especially useful for athletes. From rugby to golf, there’s hardly a sport on the planet that doesn’t require quick reaction times and a strong sense of perception.
And unlike some training activities, where you may need weeks to tell if its working, there’s no question about how good you’re doing with juggling. From toss to toss, success and failure are clean-cut, and that means it’s easy to track your progress.