The range of juggling club types, styles and colours is bewildering these days, and the price range is as large as the selection of manufacturers which can leave many potential buyers extremely confused. Do not fear, this article should clear up some of the confusion and hopefully allow you to make the right decision first time.
One-piece juggling clubs
The one piece juggling club is, as its name suggests, made from a single piece of hollow plastic. Most are actually made by welding together 2 injection moulded halves leaving a small hole at the top. They are usually quite lightweight and made from a single bright colour. Being of a fully plastic construction makes them quick and easy to produce and therefore cheaper to buy than a composite juggling club. The full plastic construction also makes them very durable, waterproof and wipe clean. On the flip side the plastic handles are a lot less comfy than the air gap handles on composite juggling clubs.
There are odd gems in the one piece world like the Play One Piece which seems to be made from a very soft plastic. These are actually quite a good weight for one piece clubs and the soft feel makes them fine for most low tricks, however double and triple spins may start to get a little more painful.
One piece clubs are gentle on the wallet but hard on the hands. They are usually too light to be considered by any serious juggler, but there are some exceptions. Ideal for large scale outdoor kids workshops.
Composite juggling clubs
Composite clubs are made from 5 main components. A hard wood dowel lives inside the club and is housed by the main plastic body on one end and by a wrapped handle on the other. EVA (dense foam) knobs and ends are then screwed into the dowels to hold the whole club together.
This construction has many benefits. For a start it is much easier to control where the balance point is on the club as well its weight. The plastic body takes the bulk of the impact from drops and the wrapped handle leaves an air gap over the dowel which effectively cushions catches. The knobs protect the club and also serve as a swinging point should you wish to incorporate swinging moves in your routine.
Almost all serious jugglers use composite clubs. They look great, feel great, have replaceable components and come in a mind boggling array of colours and styles. There are short and long handled versions as well as wide and narrow bodied varieties. Long handled juggling clubs have a balance point nearer the top of the club making it more likely that you catch the handle and not the body. As a result long handled clubs tend to be more popular. Wide bodied clubs travel slower than narrow ones which makes them easier to use, however the extra space they occupy means they’re more likely to collide with one another. As a result narrow (or standard) clubs are more popular. The classic juggling club is therefore a standard bodied long handle clubs.
Composite juggling club prices do vary quite significantly. This is generally based on the quality of workmanship, origin and the amount of decoration applied. The cheapest clubs on the market tend to be made in China using cheap components and labour (retailing around £8 per club). As with all cheap Chinese goods, you tend to get variable results and poor workmanship is not uncommon (which is why we don’t stock these). The first acceptable spec composite juggling clubs tend to be European or US made clubs which start at around £10 such as the Yorkshire made Beard Circus Special. These are basic composite clubs that have been hand assembled in the UK and are generally a good start for most beginners. As you progress you will undoubtedly be drawn to the top end clubs such as the Mr Babache Star Club or Henry’s Pirouette. These juggling clubs are definitely the cream of the crop and are well known throughout the world for the attention to detail in the workmanship. At this level clubs tend use specially selected and treated hardwood dowels (to ensure consistency across runs), impeccable finishes and nothing but the best components. They are, after all, made in Germany and Switzerland.
If you can afford them, go composite and go pro!