How Long Does It Take to Learn to Juggle?

2020-03-15

365 minutes. Just over 6 hours.

I recently taught my girlfriend how to juggle. I was interested in how long it would take her to learn, so I kept good notes of exactly how long she practiced everyday.

This blog post contains the data, as well as some commentary. First, I explain the setup for the experiment. I then give the data, along with some commentary.

Setup

At the start of this experiment, we decided that my girlfriend would practice everyday for exactly 5 minutes. The goal was for her to be able to juggle 3 balls in a cascade pattern without dropping for 100 catches. This corresponds to juggling for about 1 minute straight without dropping any balls.

I decided to write down every day that she juggled. I would see how many days it took her to be able to get 100 catches without dropping, and then multiply by 5 to get the total number of minutes.

In general, there is no "trick" to juggling, it just requires practice. Since I can already juggle, I would occasionally give my girlfriend tips. However, after she was able to consistently do 10 catches without dropping, I was mostly out of tips.

The Data

It took my girlfriend exactly 73 days to get 100 catches. This is 365 minutes, or just over 6 hours total.

We started the experiment on 2019-06-23 and finished on 2019-11-14. This is a span of 144 days, which means she practiced about every other day.

However, looking at the actual data, there were weeks of practicing every day, followed by weeks of skipping practice.

If you're interested in the actual data, you can find it here.

I also noted whenever she got a new personal record of catches. Her personal records are summarized in the following table:

DateDay NumberNew Catches Record
2019-07-1018 (after 1 hour and 30 minutes of total practice)25
2019-07-2827 (after 2 hours and 15 minutes of total practice)31
2019-08-0532 (after 2 hours and 40 minutes of total practice)46
2019-09-1648 (after 4 hours of total practice)54
2019-09-2253 (after 4 hours and 25 minutes of total practice)57
2019-10-0363 (after 5 hours and 25 minutes of total practice)77
2019-11-1473 (after 6 hours and 5 minutes of total practice)102

Commentary

When starting this experiment, I thought getting 100 catches without dropping would take about 2 months of practicing every day for 5 minutes. It turns out this was about right (but a little on the low side).

When actually practicing, it seemed like there was a huge variance in the number of catches she was getting. One time she would drop after 10 catches, and then next time she would drop after 40 catches. With noisy data like this, it was hard to see any progress over a day-to-day basis.

I didn't keep any data other than when she would get a new record, but from my memory, it seemed like she could consistently do 20% to 50% of her current personal record.

For example, when she got a personal record of 54, she was able to consistently do 10 to 25 catches without dropping. When she got a personal record of 102 catches, she was able to consistently do 20 to 50 catches without dropping.

Conclusion

This was a neat experiment. The next stage is to learn pair juggling, so we can juggle together. I expect it to take about another 6 hours until we get over 100 catches while pair juggling, although I don't plan on actually keeping track of this.

If other people have done similar experiments, I would be really interested in hearing how long it took to learn. Is 6 hours normal? Does it take more or less total time if you spend more time practicing per day?

When learning to juggle, at some point you get good enough at the 3-ball cascade pattern that you never worry about dropping. You can easily do hundreds or thousands of catches. Your only worries are your arms getting tired, or just getting bored.

I wonder how long it takes to get up to that level?