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Forums > Technical Discussion > Improving mental stamina/concentration in practice sessions

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Location: Southampton
Member Since: 3rd Aug 2004
Total posts: 1626
Posted:Now before I start I want to say that yes, I know that you can spin longer the more you practice. This isn't a search for a quick fix or immediate results to spinning like a master for hours on end.

I was just wondering if people had tips on a good way of maintaining interest in a session. I find it hard to keep going when I'm getting frustrated with a move, and find it really hard to know what else to do when that "must learn new move" scenario is going on. The problem is I'm far more inclined to put the poi down for a few days than to keep going.

I am a very slow learner when it comes to spinning and I think that it's quite possible due to my defeatism. Have you had a similar problem and overcome it? My apporach to practicing is probably the least imaginative one possible. If anyone's got some tips for keeping your concentration on the art as a whole rather than elusive moves, and focussing sessions more on flow than induvidual moves, I'd love to hear them.

Sorry if this looks like a stupid post, I've just been in a rut for months now, partly due to the cold but despite my best efforts I just keep getting less out of each session. Any words of wisdom will be very much appreciated!

What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.


now available in "advanced"
Location: Cornwall
Member Since: 25th Aug 2003
Total posts: 6086
Posted:I find the best way to ease that frustration of a new move is to stop trying to do it!

I know it might sound daft, but I find, the more you try to do something, the harder it becomes, try leaving it and just doing some stuff that you can do easily, and try to relax with your poi for 5 minutes, then go back to it!

My state of mind is not yours to define!

There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."


Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Member Since: 11th Aug 2004
Total posts: 529
Posted:I keep about four or five sets of poi all over the house. When I walk in a room I usually pick up a set, spin a bit and put them down. I find it difficult to practice for hours at a time but spinning a couple minutes here and there seems to keep the ideas flowing without being monotonous.
Good music also helps keep the interest up. Pick up a few CDs of drum\tribal beats and try to match your spinning with the style and tempo of the music.
Whenever I feel I'm in a rut I'll check out the video section or drop in a COL DVD for a quick fix of inspiration.

"My skin is singed but it heals my heart and with glowing pride I'll wear my scars." -Davey Havok


starring Skippy the green llama
Location: Seattle, WA
Member Since: 14th Dec 2002
Total posts: 1148
Posted:Hmm, it doesn't sound like you're really being defeatist, it just sounds like to me that you end up focusing on learning moves more than anything else, then get disheartened when you don't make as much progress as you'd like to. Are you still having fun in these practice sessions?

My biggest suggestions would be to try and structure your practice sessions a little more(to gain balance), and to have some music to listen to. As far as the structure, I'm not a huge fan of structure in spinning or practice(unless it's a rehearsal), but at least a little bit helps someone like me. Usually I'll warm up with the basics, just refining my timing, planes, body movement, etc. Then I usually have a set of moves in mind I want to work on before a practice. But instead of spending the entire practice just working on that one move or the moves I had in mind, I'll take a break and just work on flow. Sometimes the move comes easier to me once I'm just spinning(in time with the music), sometimes I just learn the best ways to transition into that move. Either way I'm still enjoying practice, it never really becomes a burden.
I may repeat the intensive move learning session -> flow session several times during a practice, but theyre always there(along with the warmup).

Another thing on the music, sometimes I'll learn a completely different move than the one I was working on just following the patterns of the music. Kind of like letting it drive instead of me.

Also, if you're not doing it already, try picking up another prop. Each new prop you learn will add skill to your existing props in some way. I kind of like going out for a practice session and having 3 or 4 different things to work on. It never gets repetitive or boring.

First intention, then enlightenment..
Ars Pyronomica

" Life is programmed. Whether death is programmed or not is yet to be determined."


Pirate Ninja
Location: Galway/Ireland
Member Since: 13th May 2004
Total posts: 3882
Posted:I've read over and over again her about people reaching plateaus in their spinning progress. I dont know why this happens. Maybe the body and mind need time to assimilate the things you've learned or something.

For myself i've always thought of a new move as learning a new way to think. Like spinning in opposite directions. A real mind job for me but once it clicked...

I learn somethings slowly and somethings very fast. When im stuck I put my staff down and come back to it. Some things take me months and months to learn. I just keep coming back to them a few months or hours or weeks later, mostly when i feel like it and i tend to stop when i dont.

This kind of pace suits me grand though I know its not for everyone.

Even after 11 months im still learning variations on a figure of eight. Their just different ways of thinking about it.

I wish i could help you more. Dont give up though.Take a break if you want but remember that it wont last. Their must be loads of variations on the things you know. Hows your body movement, posture, flow, planes... all of these things are as much a part of the spinning as the toys are.

best of luck to you


Love is the law.


Location: Dallas.........ish
Member Since: 14th May 2003
Total posts: 525
Posted:personally i just get some good music going...i give myself over to it completely..and my body just goes with it..dont concentrate on your moves and theyll just come to you...thats how it works for me at least...but yeah im an eccentric

Jesus saves sinners and redeems them for cash and

Co-Founder of Keepers of Light

Educate yourself about the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

annoying boy
Location: Sweden
Member Since: 3rd Oct 2004
Total posts: 160
Posted:i think the best way to learn stuff is try to learn as much things at the same time... at least when it comes to spinning.
if a move is too hard and you can't make it, try another one for a while... and the take a third move and exercise it. the go back to the first move and maby you'll make it this time..
and if not, pick up a staff instead of pois (or what you do) and spin that for a while. and then go back to the first move... and so on.
let the learning take its time... it took a month or something for me to learn the 5beat with poi... but i learnt so much other things under the same time, so it doesn't bother me it took time.

maby others have said it, but it's easier to learn if you really enjoy it. learning multiple moves at the same time is a way to make it not become repetative and boring...

fire is just light and heat.
it's you friend!


Clubbles Jugs
Location: Manchester
Member Since: 18th Feb 2004
Total posts: 1687
Posted:i find the best way is to try something totally new and unrelated and then go back to whatever i was trying before. At the moment i'm learning how to balance a stage ball on a cigar box when i get frustrated. I think this also helps cos i'm concentrating on something completely different - balancing is completely a different skill instead of spinning or throwing and catching.

I think it also helps to stop thinking about whatever you can't get. if you try it for too long without getting it, you'll get pissed off very quickly.

ah wah wah wah a wah wah

Location: Faversham UK
Member Since: 3rd Jun 2004
Total posts: 208
Posted:Good thread...

i love hearing about how other people approach their practive sessions and how they structure them,

Personally (as a juggler) i get started by fiddling around with a few basic patterns and just let myself roam, where ever the balls take me, if that means putting on some particularly dirty metal and letting myself go insane; and not worry about trying to learn anything in particular then so be it, but i uaually find that after a few minutes something will happen and i'll find something which needs tweaking, either that or a something new has happened and i want to explore it some more, these things tend to become the things that i find myself working on when i randomly pick the balls up for a few minutes.

As mtbeer said, try leaving some poi around the house, and always have some in you coat pocket or bag, and if your getting stressed out by hitting yourself all the time, make softer poi. I must have about 7 or eight different sets of balls, all for different things (like juggling quietly, juggling when i know i'll be doing lots of dropping, acrylics, globalls, and general purpose balls) that and silly things, like squidgy little stress balls (they we're really hard to get used to coz they do lots of silly things when you catch them). It also helps if you can find a way of making it really hard for yourself, if you can master something which is hard if you simplify it it becomes much easier, when i juggle i'll use my squidgy balls or coins (trying so juggle coins without them spinning is insanely hard :-)). Not sure what you could try with poi, setting them on fire usually helps.

The other thing that i find helps is making a list of about 3 or four different patterns and doing by best to get from each one to the next smoothly and tightly, and then get rid of as much of the inbetween bits as possible so it turns into a smooth journey across the patterns, doing stuff like this helps you to relate one pattern to the other.

The best piece of advice another juggler gave me and something that i always do when i juggle, and occasionally when i pick up the poi, is to make sure that you can do it with two balls before you try and do it with three (obviously with poi that means doin it with one). I mean it just makes sense that if you can't get two balls to do the right thing how on earth were you expecting to do it with 3?

All of that and makie sure you can do everything really really really slowly :-) and make it as fun as possible, play with things that are nice, that you like playing with. if it stops being fun take a break, although occasionally i find it quite fun to just keep on going for it (but thats just me).

If you've reached a plateau, perhaps its time to go and watch some different people spin? every juggler i have ever met has shown me something different, and told me tales about what they saw someone do, and shown me little exersises to try doing to get better at doing something, whats more there always such nice people that it seems woth it just to make new friends.

Have fun, hope things start getting better soon, its probably getting better already:-)

EDITED_BY: Megafish (1105724678)

Juggling isn't useless, It just isn't useful.

Neural Coding is Idiosyncratic:-)

'Do you like dry cerial? Hope so because we've drunk your milk. Yours Sincerely, Your Neighbourhood Milk Thief'


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Europe,Scotland,Both
Member Since: 5th Nov 2001
Total posts: 3749
Posted:good words.

especialy the other prop, but carefull, youll get sucked in, you used to be a dirty hairy cool ass fire spinner, and all of a sudden your a smelly hairy hippy who owns seven clubs, inumerable balls and strange hats and is thinking of how to get a unicycle on the cheap.....

juggling is better than poi, but its still not cool. beware.

T wave

This is a post by tom, all spelling is deleberate
-><- Kallisti


Location: Southampton
Member Since: 3rd Aug 2004
Total posts: 1626
Posted:Thanks for all the good advice people. I still enjoy my practices but (sacreligious as I know this will be to some people!!) I rarely have music going when I do. My next investment is a pair of jogger headphones for my walkman!

And thanks for the ideas about practicing "as and when" by carrying poi around all the time, and the other prop idea is something very intriguing! I think I'm going to dig out my contact ball again and try and get a little further than before - by learning a single trick, perhaps!

What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.


[psylocibin fingerbobe].
Location: London
Member Since: 11th Dec 2004
Total posts: 479
Posted:Sorry to Nearly.

I've just realised I've started a thread that's remarkably similar to yours. Well.. not quite the same, but perhaps I should have posted here first.

Anyways.. some interesting answers here.

As far a building concentration goes, I count out loud the moves as I do them. Sounds silly, or perhaps obvious, but I find the mental act of counting moves as I do them prevents me from 'thinking to hard' about what I'm doing and seems to enhance the chance of it coming naturally, rather than by a forced effort... if that makes any sense (?) New moves are different though, I only usually master a succesful first try by slowing right down to almost static and think it through with my hands. Erm.. if you get my drift.


old hand
Location: Bristol, England
Member Since: 22nd Apr 2002
Total posts: 717
Posted:This is great

Mentions juggling but I reckon it could be applied to many things.

Credit to spiralx for finding the link.

"**grumble*spuriouswindmills*grumble**" - Coleman
"if poi was only for girls there wouldnt be many good poi spinners...." - Nx


chemical attraction
Location: Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England
Member Since: 6th Nov 2004
Total posts: 1097
Posted:i generally find if i vary my practice a lot i can continue longer.
if your finding it hard to do a move the best thing is to try it in short bursts.if your still not getting it,leave it for a while then come back to it say a week later-it worked for me when i was trying to learn behind the back weave...! bounce

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