Tristar Eduction – Juggling Study

How can we quantified the benefits of juggling as they relate to balance, touch or ball control?

Recent studies show the improvement that the effects of juggling can have on the players ability to control a ball in the air.

A top quality study has been done at John Moores University in Liverpool, England about whether the skills learnt by juggling a football can be transferred to better ball control during a game.

Many may say me “what is the point of juggling when you don’t juggle during a game” well this study proves that even small amounts of juggling will improve ball control. What follows is a simplified version of the study; for the full paper which is quite heavy reading email with “Juggling Study” in the title.

To discover if juggling a ball with your feet only will have any effect on the ability to juggle a ball with your knees or the ability to control a ball in a game like situation.

Twenty male players (age 19-40 years) were chosen. All players were from the same club and of similar ability.

To test their juggling ability players were asked to juggle as many times as possible within a 3m x 3m grid in 30 seconds. Each player was given 3 attempts with both their feet only and then knees only. The best score for the knee juggling was taken. To test their ball control the players were asked to control a ball with one touch propelled at them by a machine. The 2m x 2m target area were the player stood was divided into 3 with a bullseye area 1m x 0.5 then a secondary area 1.5m x 1m then the entire area of 2m x 2m. The player scored 10 points for controlling the ball inside the centre bullseye, 5 points for the secondary area and 2 points for controlling the ball inside the 2m x 2m target zone. No points were awarded if the ball left the target zone. The tests were done on both their stronger foot and weaker foot. One complete test for one leg involved 12 balls being propelled at the player so the maximum score was 120.

After initial testing the players were divided into two equal groups. Group 1 was told the testing was over and they were free to go and continue playing and training at their club. However Group 2 was told to juggle with their feet only for 10 minutes each day for 4 weeks as well as playing and training with their club. 4 weeks later both groups were brought back to be retested.
kids ball juggling

For Group 1 there was no significant difference between the 2 sets of testing over the 4 weeks. For Group 2 the players showed an improvement in their knee juggling score from an average of 40 juggles in 30 secs to 47.8, in their stronger foot control test the score improved from an average of 18.5 to 28.6 and in their weaker foot from an average score of 14.2 to 21.4.

In 4 weeks with only 10 minutes juggling per day an 8.4% improvement in their stronger foot and 6.8% in their weaker foot was shown in the ability to control a ball propelled at the players. This suggests that the skills learnt in ball juggling can be transferred to ball control in a game situation.

Hopefully this paper gives more coaches the confidence to use juggling as an individual or group exercise at training now that it has been proven to be beneficial. I would be interested to see a study on whether the skills learnt practicing 1 v 1 moves transferred to the ability to control a ball better that is passed along the ground. I would suggest that it would but it would be great to have scientific proof to back up the theory.

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