Forearm Roll

After the butterfly, arm rolls are the next learning block. It will take a while to become consistent with them.

The forearm roll is much easier than the Backarm Roll (yes, I made up the word “backarm” – what else would you call it?), as the forearm is very smooth, and therefore easier to balance on.

To learn, you should first learn to balance a ball on the inside of the elbow. Hold your right arm out in front of you so it is almost straight, but not so much that the elbow is stiff. If you feel the elbow area, you will notice that there is a tendon that connects the biceps to the forearm. You can balance the ball to the right of this. If you straighten the arm even further you’ll notice the area flattens out even further. Don’t straighten so far that your arm is stiff, or you’ll find it difficult to correct the balance of the ball.

Okay, now balance the ball there. If the ball moves to the right side of the arm, move the arm further right to compensate. If the ball moves left, move the arm left. This should be fairly easy at the elbow, but you should practice this balance point a lot, to make the action sink in.

The next step is to learn to balance in the middle of the forearm. Feel the area. Close your fist and open it to see the difference. When the fist is closed, the arm is tense, and the muscles form a curve, which makes balance a little more difficult, so it is best to learn with the fist open. This agrees with a lot of people’s ideas of how contact juggling should be done, so that’s all the better.

Place the ball on that area, and learn to balance there. This will take much longer than the elbow. In my case, it took weeks of practice to get to the stage that I could walk around with a ball there.

When you have practiced sufficiently (in your opinion), it is a simple matter to roll a ball from the elbow, through the middle balance point, and to the palm of the hand.

Learning the other way around is a little more difficult. The hand is used to catching things, but the elbow isn’t. Try it and see.

When the ball is just reaching the elbow, pull the elbow back a little, at the same speed as the ball, and slow it to a stop. This is a variation of the catch principle, which I’ll explain later. This stops the ball, yet isn’t as clumsy as a sudden stop. The ball slows to a halt.

Now that you can roll the ball up and down the forearm, you can add it into your practice routines. You could stretch out your Back-Back Butterflies, for example, by doing a forearm roll every time you butterfly into the palm.

You can even just do continuous arm rolls – balance the ball on the elbow, and roll to the palm, while pulling the arm in towards you so the ball is not really moving. When the ball reaches the palm, pass it onto the other elbow and roll back. You can also do this in the opposite way.

Ferret came up with a pass from one elbow to the other. Roll from palm to elbow, bringing the other elbow in close to it, then roll the ball onto the other elbow. If you’re rolling from the right to left, then you simply move the right arm to the right and lift it – this will cause the ball to move left. If you roll it right, then the ball should just roll on down the other arm. If you want to learn this with larger gap between the elbows, then you should learn Elbow Catches first (described later), then just toss the ball from one to the other and continue the roll.

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Next page: Backarm Roll