Balancing & juggling go great together and audiences love balance tricks so learning a few can be quite valuable for the performing juggler. Also once you learn the skill balancing is much easier and less tiring than most juggling tricks so it should also appeal to the more lazy juggler.
Many of us learned to balance some kind of sports utensil like a baseball bat or a tennis racquet, usually on our hand, and that's a good place to start. The easiest thing I've seen to balance is a peacock feather, they fall very slowly and can teach you the basics very quickly. However they're not too easy to find, a broomstick or mop makes a decent second choice. Try to find something at least 4 feet long.
Begin by placing one end in your open palm and with your other hand hold the stick upright. You have to keep your eyes focused on the very top of whatever you're balancing, that's the secret, the rest is practice. If you look away even for an instant the stick will fall. Even once you've mastered balancing more than a quick blink will end the trick. So keep your eyes focused on the very top, no exceptions!
Work on trying to relax your balance and make smaller and smaller movements for corrections, once you have a balance nailed you can stay nearly still.
Balancing on your head
A little tougher than balancing on your hands is balancing on your head. But it's more impressive and you have your hands free. The same principles apply, watch the top and work on minimizing your movement.
Pay attention to where your weight is, if you stand forward with your weight on your toes it can be difficult as you're leaning forward and then tilting your head back, try to keep your weight more centered or on your heels while balancing with your head.
The 4 main spots to balance on your head are chin, lips, nose and forehead.
- Your chin can hold a lot of weight and you get a great view of your balancing object, it's a stable and relatively easy position to maintain a balance.
- Some people balance on the lips, I think it looks and tastes funny, I'm against it.
- The nose is the classic balance spot, it's the audience's favorite and the spot of choice but it can't take much weight, doesn't have the best view and it can be slippery.
- The forehead is a good spot popular amongst jugglers doing combination tricks. It can be tricky at first since all the other balance points you look down at your object but when balancing on the forehead you look up at it. This isn't any harder but might take a few minutes to get used to.
Taller is easier
Most people will assume balancing taller things is much harder than balancing short things but they're wrong. Balancing a pool cue or an umbrella is much more impressive than balancing a pencil yet it takes a small fraction of the skill the pencil does. A 12 foot pole is nothing compared to balancing a teaspoon.
Put some weight on top
Following along with the theme of looks harder but is actually easier, try adding some weight up top. You'll often see performers add something to the top of a balance to increase the drama and suspense, they're also making the trick easier. Whatever you balance it's always easier to put the heavy part up top.
Balancing & juggling
Now that you've mastered balancing it's time to combine a balance on the head & a juggling pattern. This is an advanced trick so don't worry if it takes a few years. To combine the two you must be able to juggle without ever looking directly at the juggling objects since you can't ever look away from the balance. This means you only get to watch your juggling with your peripheral vision. It turns out 3 clubs is the easiest trick to do this with. To build skills before you try adding a balance try keeping 3 clubs going and look at your chest or the floor, this prevents you from seeing the top of your juggling pattern and is almost as hard as juggling blindfolded. You can also practice 3 clubs with your eyes closed (it's not as hard as it seems, still hard, just not as much as it seems).
Once you feel comfortable with 3 clubs without looking directly at them try to simply pass one club back and forth while keeping a balance. If you're human you'll find it damn tough. After you can flip one club back and forth without taking your attention away from the balance move on to 3 clubs.
That should keep you busy for a few years, have fun.