Tips for juggling while unicycling backwards

Any tips for juggling 3 balls while unicycling backwards? I’m making some progress(can usually do it straight for 30 feet), but my goal is to be able to juggle while unicycling backwards in figure 8s. I can already do backwards figure 8s(without juggling), juggle while riding forward pretty much indefinitely, idle, one-footed idle with either foot, juggle while idling for a few minutes, hop and free-mount. I find that becoming almost proficient at juggling while idling has helped me tremendously with juggling while going backwards. I use my 24" unicycle for free-style skills.

I’m surprised there are no YouTube tutorials on juggling while unicycling backwards, or on this forum for that matter(or maybe they didn’t come up in the search). There are some YouTube videos of unicyclists going backwards and juggling but they’re not tutorials. Lots of tutorials about juggling while unicycling forwards though.

While we’re at it, is there anyone here who can ride backwards one-footed while juggling? :smiley:

First I want to know why. Not to impress an audience, I hope. They won’t really notice the difference. Juggling while idling “looks” easier than while riding, because you’re not going anywhere. Easy tricks look hard, and vice-versa. :roll_eyes:

Probably the main reason you’re having trouble is because most people really can’t ride backward that well. We learn it so we can do it, but spend very little time doing it compared to riding forward. So you may just need to work those backward riding skills to get them more solid.

Try riding backward with your arms crossed, or hands in your back pockets. This will isolate your upper body from your lower. To make the juggling easier, you want your lower body to be able to handle all of the riding part, so your upper body can worry about juggling. Then start doing that in circles. Start large, and gradually work it smaller. Turn your outside shoulder behind you to help your body make the turns.

Can I juggle while riding backward? Yes. Can I do it in a figure 8? Probably, pretty sloppily. Could I learn it riding one-foot? That would probably require some serious time working on it. Once upon a time I could do a backward figure 8 with either foot (part of the Level 4 Compulsory event at Unicon IV). Not while juggling. :slight_smile:

Why learn any skill on a unicycle? Why unicycle at all? It’s all so impractical! :smiley: Juggling while riding backwards is another worthwhile challenge. I also think it may help with my juggling while idling technique, which I’m still working on, since backwards and idling are closely related. It may also help with joggling(which I sometimes do backwards), as a challenging cross-training method. And sure, I think audiences would appreciate it, though that’s not the main reason.

I’m also trying to figure out how to transition from juggling while riding forward to juggling while idling without having to stop juggling for a few seconds. I can easily transition from juggling while idling to juggling while riding forward without having to stop juggling, but can’t do the opposite, yet. I think learning backwards juggling may help a little, this could help me master the transition, and also learn juggling super-idles.

You’re totally right though, about how spectators are more impressed with easier tricks. They seem to love watching me juggle while riding forward a lot more than when I idle, even though juggling while idling is much more difficult.

Thanks for your advice!

The obvious answer is so you can pass with someone riding forward. John’s advice about arms crossed is good (I usually do behind my back) but if you’re already riding backwards in figure 8’s and joggling backwards you just need to keep practicing. I’ll have to give backwards one-footed while juggling a try this afternoon. I should theoretically be able to do it but have never actually tried. Wheelwalking while juggling is another fun one to try. I’ve never tried that backwards, either, but can do it pretty well forwards (including under the leg):

I can’t coast backwards yet myself but that’s another one you could work up to (I can juggle coasting forwards as in the video above). I dug up an old video with the transition to backwards juggling:

And working up to it:

The ultimate wheel can be fun, too:

Very impressive Waaalrus!

Great videos, Waaalrus! What a talent!

The problem with the transitions is the juggling and pedal movements temporarily going out of sync, more so going from forward riding to idling.

Here I am juggling while idling for over 2 minutes

It took almost a year to go from a few catches and throws to juggling for over 2 minutes while idling without screwing up. I can now do it for over 4 minutes with my dominant foot down, almost a minute with my non-dominant foot. Though my technique is still slowly improving the biggest problem I’m having is it gets very tiring after about 2 minutes(and I run/unicycle regularly). It used to be that I would dismount because I lost balance, but more and more it’s because my down foot just gives out. Would juggling while idling be significantly less strenuous on a 20" unicycle? Or the transitions easier on a 20"?

This isn’t the same thing as juggling while unicycling backwards but it is a very closely related skill.

Another reason to juggle while riding backwards would be to avoid running over your clubs when you drop them, though I guess it would be a moot point if you were passing with someone else riding forwards. Still a cool trick, though. I am an OK juggler, can keep five balls going for a while when I am lucky, know a few club passing patterns, and can idle and so on, but juggling while idling is still something I find very difficult.

One thing Waalrus has going for him, in addition to “mad skills,” of course, is that he seems to have a place to practice right in front of his house. For me to get to a place that is peaceful and spacious enough for any sort of focused unicycling, I have to ride about ten minutes each way and down some stairs, and even that place is sometimes overrun with screaming children, hovering parents, dogs and so on. I can almost always find a place to ride and even to concentrate on learning skills, but the search cuts into my practice time significantly.

Oh well, juggling while idling is one unicycle skill that can be practiced indoors, so in reality I have no excuse!


You’re doing what I call “muscle idling” which is how I learned to idle but not how I teach it. How well can you super idle (idling a complete revolution)? I would practice that first until you can do it slow, bring your pedals up to 3 and 9 o’clock (or higher), and keep your body upright (no leaning into the transition). Once you can do that practice the same technique with a regular idle. (Basically, your idling period should be longer.) When I hula hoop I need to be in sync at least part of the time but it’s not as necessary while juggling while idling. I’m not sure whether it’s much difference idling on 20" vs. 24". The major part of the strenuousness is how much balance you use. Transitions on a smaller wheel are probably slightly less work than a bigger wheel because of the momentum.

This is a good point. In my first couple years unicycling I practiced skills a lot and essentially walked out my front door to do it. I practiced in an area of the development I lived in that wasn’t developed yet. When that got developed I practiced on sidewalks a lot (which was limiting to riding in a straight line) and in my driveway (which was limiting in area). I don’t have a close place to practice any more and for a long time was mostly riding off road (fixed and freewheel). In the last year or so I’ve been trying to get more skills practice in. I have a regularly scheduled practice on Tuesdays which used to be pure unicycle basketball but now is mostly skills practice and teaching. Yesterday I found that I’m still very far away from juggling while wheelwalking backwards and maybe a few weeks or months of solid practice away from juggling while riding backwards one footed (right, longer for my left). It even took me a good 20-30 minutes of practice to just get down juggling while riding forwards one footed. I still think practicing with hands behind the back is a good precursor to juggling although I found it interesting that I cannot wheelwalk with my hands behind my back but can juggle. I wonder if it’s because I’m more in sync wheelwalk juggling than I am idling. I didn’t try coasting with my hands behind my back yet but that should be fun.

Thanks for the advice, Waaalrus!

When I juggle while idling I have to do it with a lot of kick(big idles in other words, or I think what you call “muscle” idling), but the idles are slowly getting smaller. When I just idle without juggling my idles are generally much smaller. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do small idles while juggling since it’s less tiring.

Backwards juggling is very tricky but I’m slowly getting it.

Good answer! and Yes. The only other reason I can think of for learning that particular skill (and tons of others) is to impress other unicyclists. :smiley:

Also a good one! That would be very impressive to watch in a show, especially between people on different height giraffes. In a circle, I guess. The audience would not really appreciate the difficulty, but some of us would…

I agree. Also I noticed in your video that your idle before you start the juggling seems to use your entire upper body. That might be an area to focus on as well. Your pedaling and juggling do not need to be in sync, and in fact, for this technical type of stuff you’re working on, you need to get where the feet and the upper body are totally separate. Think of your upper body being connected to the “unicycling” part just by a central post, that allows you to twist to the left and right. This lets you steer. Your lower body takes care of the rest.

Also work on that relaxed idle. The idling motion in your video is the kind of thing you would want for a show, but in a show you probably wouldn’t do it longer than a minute or two. The large, active idles make it look harder than it would if your wheel was just making tiny motions. But if you work toward an idle with just small motions as necessary (pauses can be built in), you can then add back the “technique” to make it look however you want.

I think I learned that at some point a long time ago. We used to practice one-foot a lot, since it was one of the races. A few times there were “extra” race events at some of the conventions, including the traditional one-foot race while juggling. That’s 50 meters total, and you have to start juggling and one-footing before the 5-meter line. Now that’s a ridiculous event! But really when you think about it, only slightly more ridiculous than one-footing without juggling. What’s the point of either?

Based on your video resume, I have no doubt you can juggle with your hands behind your back, but I’d like to see a video of that! :stuck_out_tongue:

Back and forth on a basketball court we juggle clubs in a feed where the feeder is riding backwards and then we stop juggling to turn around at the end of the court and the feedees ride into position. I can ride back and forth with a single person continuously but would probably need a little practice with feeding while riding backwards. We should practice to see how tight a circle we can do it in. If we had one more person and everyone could transition forwards/backwards we could do a weave that would look good in a show.

I think one foot is an important skill that improves your overall balance on the unicycle. I don’t ride one footed while I’m mountain unicycling, for instance, but I feel that the fact that I can ride one footed well with both feet has saved me from falling many times when my foot goes all or part way off the pedal. (Of course the better skill to have might be to keep your foot on the pedal.) Adding in juggling trains your brain to be able to do the skill when your full attention is not on it.

I haven’t practiced this but it’s on my long list of skills to work on eventually. I was actually talking about practicing just riding (and not juggling) with hands behind the back. I practiced this with wheelwalking a little last week and got to:

I had the opportunity to unicycle indoors during a juggling festival on Saturday and took advantage of this rare opportunity to get down juggling while riding one foot in a figure eight and to work on some other riding with hands behind the back with varying levels of success. I have backwards and wheelwalk in a straight line but not in a circle. I didn’t get anywhere with one foot backwards or coasting which will require much more practice. I also need to practice wheelwalking while pausing to lift one leg so I can get a club under it. That was eluding me on Saturday:

Thanks for this advice, John! Did my first ever transitions from juggling while riding to juggling while idling yesterday, and the first successful one was while juggling backwards(that wasn’t even my original intent, at the last half second while losing balance juggling backwards I decided to go into an idle and it worked, though I dropped a little after the transition). It’s a lot easier than I thought though I’m doing it sloppily and sometimes just totally screw up. The idea of a more relaxed idle helped, as well as thinking of my upper body and lower body being totally separate. It’s like I know these things already but just needed to be reminded.

I realize being in sync isn’t that important, but I often feel very awkward for 10 to 20 seconds after transitioning from idling to riding while juggling. I guess it’s just a matter of getting used to it, and I should try it in a flatter area.

Very impressive, Waaalrus! I can’t wheel walk at all. Strangely, I can idle one-footed competently, but can’t ride one-footed, another thing I need to work on.

How difficult is hopping while juggling on a unicycle? I suspect it would be very tiring.

I haven’t tried either hopping with arms behind the back or hopping while juggling but I’ll see how it goes this afternoon. Hopping in general is tiring but when you practice you want to work on waiting as long as you can between hops. One of the most tiring things I’ve practiced is hula hooping/juggling/idling but I got rid of my hula hoop a while ago and haven’t done it in a while:

I found it relatively easy and not particularly tiring although the wind can make it more challenging and I’m not hopping very high:

I also realized yesterday that if you’re planning to juggle in front of you it’s probably better to work up to it by practicing riding arms hugging you in the front (straightjacket style) than hands behind the back. It’s a slightly different balance. It also gives me an idea for a performance routine if I ever take part in a show or competition.

I love people pushing the envelope of uni-juggling!! Personally, I’ve spent the last nearly 3 years just trying to do consistent double club spins while unicycling. I just switched from my 36" to my 29" and after a brief adjustment, I’m making a lot more progress.

I always dreamed of getting one-foot riding down so that I could throw consistent under-the-leg while riding. after seeing this video, I can imagine a 1-foot wheel walk with under-the-leg throws!!

Keep posting these wonderful videos!!! I also love the hula hooping while uni-juggling!!! Amazing. Few know how much perseverance goes into these feats, even fewer can understand why we do it! (Why do we do it?? :thinking: ;))

Keep it up! You are amazing! Anyone who even works at it for a while, regardless of what you actually achieve, I give you enormous props!!!


What are you wearing on your hands in this video?? Here I am juggling while idling for over 2 minutes

Simply gloves? Or protective wrist guards?

Great work! I just uni-juggle covering ground. For years, I simply uni-juggled 5-10 miles/day without a drop, single club spins, in rain, snow, wind. Turning 60, I suddenly wanted to do more.

Large public parks often have paved areas. I find public schools have perfectly maintained wide sidewalks, and are very quiet after hours or even when school is in session. For me, double spins require me to look UP almost constantly, and it’s a problem to look into the sun (another reason I like an unflawed sidewalk). So at the right time of day, the school building provides shade.

Waalrus! Great videos! Skills!!!

Song!! Want to do the Ride to Coney Island together this year???

I must have been learning all the wrong way…

Let me first appreciate what each of you has contributed and demonstrated. And I’m no where near your abilities.

But I taught myself how to juggle while riding a unicycle in the street while on a 36” during my commute trips. If I dropped anything in the street most of the vehicles immediately swerved to run a tire over it. One night I even got shot in the butt with an air rifle.

I don’t do anything as fancy as you all do but I learned any skill really isn’t a skill if you can’t do it on command any where your asked or demanded. Or else you might wonder why your butt hurts after the guns have been fired.

So I don’t ride somewhere to juggle. I just usually juggle everywhere I ride. Even during muni I frequently have more than the normal number of balls stuck in my shorts. If possible I prefer to finish events I ride in by juggling while crossing the finish line.

Riding backwards juggling doing figure eights one footed on the finish line of a mountain bike race — now that’s a good challenge for me to work toward.

Funny, I didn’t notice anyone mentioning any methods for throw accurately yet in this thread. Maybe I’m the only one who had to learn not to snap my wrists after adding juggling to riding a unicycle.

By trial and error I picked up most of the other suggestions along many miles of street and sidewalk unicycle juggling.



Great advice and that’s some great juggling while hopping on the unicycle. I may try that out soon, but my hopping technique stinks due to hardly ever doing it. I’d like to be able to ride off a curb while juggling without stopping the juggling.

Basically, I’d like to be able to do almost everything I do while joggling except on a unicycle. Obviously can’t do everything, but I can get close enough. To stop and go while juggling on a unicycle would be very helpful for parades.