Guinness World Records - Officially Amazing

Record Holder Q+A: Alex Barron, Most Objects Juggled

 
 
 
 
 
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At the recent launch of Guinness World Records 2013, we had the opportunity to speak to several record holders featured in the new book. We asked them the questions world record fans most wanted to know about, and now here are the answers!

Today's Q+A is with Alex Barron, holder of the records for most objects juggled (11), and most objects "flashed" (13).

A "qualifying" juggle requires each object to be caught at least twice, a "flash" juggle requires only one catch of each object.


Q - When did you start juggling?

A - I started juggling in the summer of 2006 when I was 12. I'd see someone doing three bean bags and was determined to learn so I picked up a few golf balls and practiced until I could run 3 comfortably. It wasn't until Christmas that year that I really got going though, when my mum bought me a 3 ball DVD. I learnt all the tricks on it in about a week and then started looking online for how to do four, five and so on.


Q - Was it hard when you first learned to juggle? How often did you practise?

A - I picked up 3 quite quickly, but it still felt extremely hard when I first learned! I would definitely encourage anyone finding it tough to keep at it for a while as particularly with the lower numbers as you really will make progress if you practice consistently. I think I practiced most often and regularly in the year following that first Christmas when I was doing at least a few hours every day and considerably more on the weekends. In the last few years it's tended to be more spaced out and I'll have two or three week periods when I'm holiday or the weather's nice where I really go for it. I'll often spend hours practicing the same trick or number with a camera filming constantly in case I break a record or manage something I think is vaguely impressive. I normally only stop if I get the feat on video, the camera runs out of battery or that I'm so tired there's no way I'll be able to do it. That is the method I used to break the two Guinness World Records.


Q - Can you break down how long it took you to learn each additional ball?

A - Sure. If I just go by the time taken to qualify (twice as many catches as balls) it's something like this:

3 balls - A few minutes.                             
4 balls - A few days (but it was 6 months until I tried it from 3).
5 balls - A few weeks later.
6 balls - A month or so later.
7 balls - Around the same time as 6.
8 balls - About 6 months later.
9 balls - About a year later.
10 balls - After about 4 years.
11 balls - Almost 6 years after learning 3.





Q - Do you juggle any particularly heavy or dangerous objects?

A - Sorry, I'm a little boring in that respect - I only really juggle balls, rings and clubs so you might want to look up 'The Space Cowboy' who's also in the book. I'm really only interested in pushing the technical and physical limits of ball juggling in particular and that requires quite light, small and under filled bean bags. The difficulty in my record lies in the speed and height you have to throw for 11 or 13 rather than the weight of the props.


Q - What would you do to prevent your record being broken?

A - Good question. At the moment it seems unlikely someone will qualify 12 or flash 14 in the near future but there are some extremely talented younger guys coming through so I have to try and keep up my practice! I definitely believe each of those feats will be accomplished at some point. Whether or not I'll be able to manage them I'm don't know, but I guess they are now my ultimate goals in juggling.


Q - Did you purposefully set out to break these two records?

A - It wasn't a goal when I first started but pretty soon I began thinking about breaking some more minor juggling records, usually beginning with 'Youngest person to…'. 2010 was when I started practicing 11 properly and when the 'Most balls juggled record' came into my sights. After that it was most definitely not on a whim and for two years I went through countless hours of frustration trying to break it. It was an amazing feeling when I finally succeeded.


Q - What do you do for a living?

A - I'm a student at the moment and I hope to study the physical sciences and mathematics at university next year. I never perform as my style of juggling (dropping on almost every attempt) doesn't really suit it very well but I did earn some money filming an advert for Virgin Media earlier in the year. That was great fun and it's always nice to have your juggling filmed professionally as opposed to my normal approach of propping the camera up with a bean bag or two.





Q - What does it feel like to juggle 11, 12, or even 13 balls?

A - It's a truly awesome feeling. The first few times you get the pattern going it's just incredible and very exciting. Your arms are going far too fast for you to be thinking about each individual throw so it becomes this messy (at first) beast which you're desperately trying to control. Even with the highest numbers I'm still correcting the entire time and looking to see if I need to move my feet but at that stage it's all completely subconscious. Even though it only lasts a few seconds there still seems to be plenty of time to get nervous and if it's a good run I'll definitely be thinking 'don't drop' as the balls begin to come down.


Q - How do you hold six or seven balls in one hand, to "flash" 13 objects?

A - With great difficulty, but the secret is to use small (about 2.25 inch), saggy bean bags which you can squish into your hand. I'll then leave the last one balancing on top and use my thumb to control it. Releasing the balls one by one just seems to be practice and it does become easier with practise.


Q - Do you have any advice for an aspiring numbers juggler looking to equal your feats?

A - Numbers juggling requires a huge amount of patience, persistence and determination and I think that is more important than any general advice about the pattern. For the higher numbers being physically fit is also crucial. I think one of the reasons I managed the records was that I was able to practice 11 or even 13 for hours without completely destroying myself. I was also willing to devote almost all of my practice to this one area of juggling which, in itself, isn't at all useful for performing. That's probably the main reason why no performing juggler has done it.


Alex Barron - Most balls juggled_3912-3.jpg

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