In order to formulate a sentence and speak it, for example, we use two sides of the brain. The voice is governed on one side; vocabulary, grammar, and syntax are on the other. The Corpus Callosum is a great band of fibers and neurons uniting the two sides, like a tunnel. It is the only way communication can occur between the two hemispheres. In order to speak a sentence, we engage and connect the two hemispheres of the brain. Many thought processes–remembering, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, creating–require that the two sides of the brain communicate with each other.
Any activity that creates neuronal connections between the two hemispheres increases brainpower. Any activity that uses the two sides of the body in two different ways simultaneously builds neuronal connections and increases thinking power. When we are building coordination, we are building brains. Juggling builds coordination by building and strengthening neuronal connections between the two sides of the brain and body.
There are ancillary benefits. One is that once someone learns to juggle and practices it, it naturally becomes a social activity. People are drawn to watch jugglers, and they say, “How do you do that?” Then the juggler interacts with others, teaching others how to do it, gaining social skills, deepening their own understanding of what they are doing, and improving their communication skills.
Another ancillary benefit has to do with who is drawn to learn and practice juggling. Generally speaking, boys get more excited about it. Generally speaking, a lot of boys are primarily kinesthetic learners (as opposed to learning visually or aurally). Kinesthetic learners suffer a disadvantage in traditional classroom structures, which are heavily weighted toward visual and aural learners who can sit still. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing and experiencing and repeating. They tend to score lower in school, and, not coincidentally, have lower status. But athletic prowess can raise their status, as can having a skill like juggling.
Then there are connections to math and physics—juggling is all about numbers and patterns, mechanics and physics. But I won’t go into that, here. And learning to juggle teaches the value of persistence—you learn to keep throwing up and dropping till you get it.