Zak McAllister shows why he won IJA's individual juggling competition

Originally published at:


That was a lot of fun. Thanks for brightening my day!


:blossom: I’m all about Wonderful Things! :star2:


It’s nice with an audience and judges who let contestants show their most difficult tricks even if they miss now and then, rather than forcing them to use only simpler tricks they know to perfection.


There’s a chap who really know how to throw some shapes! Bravo!

1 Like

As someone who has done a bit of juggling over my 60 years on this big ball, this was wonderful to watch. Juggling is truly an art, and the best jugglers acknowledge that fact and attempt to elevate it above the clownish, circus-like reputation it has gotten over the years. There are many jugglers who, like Zak, see beyond that misleading view. One of my favorites is Viktor Kee, who you may remember from America’s Got Talent several years ago, or from his work in Cirque du Soleil. There are many others, and I’m glad that these talented folks are putting in the incredibly difficult work it requires to not only become proficient in the art, but to break through the old stereotypes and show people how beautiful juggling can be.



Mesmerizing, hypnotic, and beautiful!

A wonderful thing indeed!

1 Like

Much wow.

He is a talented performer. As a good juggler he doesn’t really let you know what is hard and what isn’t, it all looks the same. Some of the tricks were really difficult, some much less but it all flowed so perfectly in his performance. As a former pro I have some idea of the effort for some of these, and he certainly pulled off some top of the game stuff and did it beautifully.


On the one hand, the behind-the-back juggling seemed impossibly hard. But then I worked it out. It might be less difficult than normal juggling.

When he first practices the skill, he almost certainly used a mirror— which would greatly lessen the difficulty of the learning curve. (Once a move is acquired, he can probably do a lot of his simpler, conventional juggling with his eyes closed.)

Second, his backwards juggling involved not so much tossing the balls into the air as tossing them so that they met the crease formed where his arm meets his back, so that it rolls into the other hand. (His black clothes and the dark background helped a lot with this, keeping the illusion that the balls were in the air and not rolling on his body.) He’s not just a juggler, he’s part magician.

1 Like

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with learning how to juggle.

First 3, three is easy enough, two hand three balls, only one extra ball.

Next two in favored hand, harder. After that two in non favored hand, which is way harder. Then a full four, two in both hands at once, again way harder. but still not a cross pattern.

Now five is a three pattern with balls crossing hands with two extra balls, which is not so simple at all. Now as you get good at this you tend to get to a point where you don’t need to look at your hands, even at the four ball stage, just too much too see you need to count on good throws.

Now move to behind the back, you now get no ability to look but also a really unnatural throwing position you need to relearn and he threw a very low 5 pattern requiring some impressive speed. Most throw a five pattern above their head he threw one behind his back below his shoulders.

Admittedly there was a small cheat against his arms, but hey behind the back. I bet he could throw a five pattern in front below his shoulders all day.

He makes it look easy - it isn’t, there is the artistry.

1 Like

Gravity is a LAW. It should apply to EVERYONE

Once you’ve learned three the simple way, I think you should start playing around with different patterns. There are so many ways to juggle three balls, and it’s easier to gradually increase difficulty than if you directly start adding more balls. Mills’ mess is fun.

Even juggling three balls in one hand is probably simpler than five balls with two. (I reached the stage where I could do both for a short while with little stability in the pattern).

Quick search on youtube:

I’d be curious about the judging criteria. Are they supposed to take away mandatory points for misses? Do you get more points for more difficult tosses? Are there mandatory things you must demonstrate in a routine? You can imagine that there are judging criteria that make it more likely for jugglers to go for more difficult skills.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.