An essential part of being an awesome uncle is having a repertoire of tricks and jokes that will amaze your nieces and nephews, and crack them up. So from time to time we’ll be offering you current and future uncles out there a tutorial on some gags that’ll have them thinking you’re the coolest dude in the world. Check out all our Cool Uncle Tricks.

What really defines a cool uncle trick is a skill that is teachable, but seems like pure magic when a kid first sees it. That’s what makes juggling the perfect addition to one’s cool uncle repertoire.

There are lots of ways to learn to juggle. You might have learned in elementary school by practicing with scarves, but most pro jugglers discourage this method of learning. While it does allow you to quickly “juggle,” it doesn’t teach you the foundational skills required to successfully juggle more traditional objects like balls, bowling pins, or better yet, flaming torches!

The above method starts with the fundamentals. Learning this way may take longer, and seem more frustrating in the beginning, but the results are far more reliable. The steps featured here represent the major milestones of learning to juggle. Don’t move on from a step until you are completely comfortable with the skill you just learned.

For your first juggling lesson, balls or bean bags are great options. What you don’t want to use is anything that’s too light or too bouncy. Objects that are too light are more difficult to catch, and if you use bouncy tennis balls you’ll spend most of your time chasing after them. No matter what you use, expect to drop things a lot in the beginning; it’s all part of the process of honing your circus-ready craft.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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