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Basic Kettlebell Juggling – EXPLAINED

Note from Jedd: Many people have wondered whether the Version 2.0 of the Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling covers the basic of kettlebell juggling. It does indeed cover that. Also, several years ago, I put up the following article covering the technique I started with in kettlebell juggling, the Kettlebell forward flip and catch. Check it out below.

Don’t forget – Logan has extended the contest for the free iPad through this weekend, so make sure to try to attain at least Level 1 amongst the Kettlebell Juggling Progression List and Ranking System.



Photo Source: Niki DeSantis. Athlete: Mike Rankin

If you’ve been around the NET at all, you’ve seen a lot of video clips where people juggle kettlebells.  There are tons of different ways to juggle kettlebells.  I’ve seen guys do it behind their back, going between their legs, and even juggling more than one bell at a time.

While you may also have the goal of mastering the art of kettlebell juggling, it’s important to start out on the right foot or else you could get very frustrated and maybe even injured by improper technique. The way I started out was by performing what I call the Forward Flip and Catch.

In order to get started with kettlebell juggling, it’s important to understand a few simple points.

Juggling Starts With a Swing

In order to juggle a kettlebell, you have to be able to get the kettlebell up near the chest and neck area.  Once the kettlebell is in this position, you have a window of opportunity to impart other forces upon it to make the juggling possible.

If you are dealing with a heavy kettlebell, I’m talking something over 50 lbs, then you need to get your whole body involved to get the kettlebell up high enough.

This should be done by performing a swing.  If you are no good at kettlebell swings, then you should master that movement before moving on to juggling.

The swing looks like this.

kettlebell swing 1kettlebell swing 3
The Swing

The bell is projected to this height not just by lifting it with the shoulder and arm, but rather it is propelled to that position by the lower body, especially the power of the hips and glutes.  After the kettlebell is pulled through the legs, the hips are snapped and the bell travels upward in its trajectory. This hip power is also responsible for getting the flip going.

Transition to a High Pull

In the standard Kettlebell Swing, the arm is kept straight.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to express any power into the kettlebell if your arm is straight, so it is necessary to transition the swing into a high pull.

The High Pull is performed slightly different from a barbell high pull, however.  Instead of pulling the bell up in a primarily straight line, the bell comes up in the arc and then is pulled backward for the high pull portion.

kettlebell high pull 2kettlebell high pull 3

It is this slight back pull that brings the bell closer to your body where you can then exert other forces into it and make it flip around so that you can juggle it.

The Thumb Push

In this example, we will perform the Forward Flip. Once the bell reaches it’s highest point, it is time to make it flip.

kb stuff_0003
Hand Radially Deviated as Thumb Pushes the Handle Away

For a Forward Flip, the thumb is the part of your hand that will actually make the kettlebell flip, because it is the last part of the hand that contacts the kettlebell handle.  With this in mind, you can also slightly shift your hand into radial deviation so that you can optimize the positioning of the thumb and propel the bell forward to initiate the flip.

Catching the Bell

It is important to understand that when flipping and juggling kettlebells, the axis about which the kettlebell spins is within the bell and not the handle.  Grasping this concept will allow you to better predict where the handle will be when you go to grab and catch it.

axis1axis2
axis3axis4
Kettlebell Spinning 180 Degrees on its Axis, Falling Only Inches

As you can see in the series above, the kettlebell spins on an axis near the center. The handle flies forward and down, moving into position for the catch.

If your technique is dialed in you will catch the bell in almost the same exact spot you flipped it.  You can even get your other hand into position beneath the bell ahead of time, as pictured above.

After you try the Forward Flip a few times, you’ll be able to predict where the handle will be.  Once you get the feel you will be able to move your hand to find the kettlebell handle and secure it again in your grasp.

Receiving and Returning the Bell

Once you figure out the tempo of the Swing / High Pull / Flip sequence, you will be able to rip off several Forward Flips in a row.  However, just like any other kettlebell lift, efficiency is important in order to put together a string of Forward Flips.

Many beginner jugglers find it hard to put together Forward Flips in succession because once they catch the bell they fail to maintain an arc in the bell path.  If they try to catch the bell and drop it straight down, they will lose a lot of momentum.  Instead, you should try to catch the bell by the handle and then let the bell pass back down through the legs.  By maintaining this arc, you can more easily explode back into another swing, high pull, and flip.

Putting it All Together

Here is everything put together in action. Notice the path of the bell upwards, the location of my hands, and the quick transition into the next repetition.

Hopefully, the sequences of still shots and the video help you understand the basics of kettlebell juggling.

Once you get that one down, then you can progress from there. Here’s the progression to work on for basic juggling.

  • Same Hand Forward Flip and Catch (shown first in video)
  • Hand to Hand Forward Flip and Catch (shown at end of video)
  • Same Hand Sideways Forward Flip and Catch
  • Hand to Hand Sideways Forward Flip and Catch
  • Same Hand Backward Flip and Catch
  • Hand to Hand Backward Flip and Catch
  • Same Hand Sideways Backward Flip and Catch
  • Hand to Hand Sideways Backward Flip and Catch

That should get you started! All the best with your juggling.

Jedd


movarrowLearn How to Juggle Kettlebells with The G0-To Resource,
The Definitive Guide to Kettlebell Juggling 2.0, from Logan Christopher:



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7 Responses to “Basic Kettlebell Juggling – EXPLAINED”

  1. Max Shank Says:

    Call me biased but I like these:
    1
    2

  2. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Jedd,
    Great detailed post and I thought the video was excellent! I’ll admit, I don’t do much juggling; but I do have the forward flip down. I CAN NOT master the flip to the side-so I am requesting you to do a follow up post to go over that technique in detailed explanation for me as I am not skilled in that movement and probably doing something minor wrong.
    Thanks brother!
    Jerry

  3. Jay DeMayo Says:

    RANKIN IS JACKED!

    LOOK AT THAT DETERMINATION!

    LOVE IT MAN!

    CAN’T WAIT TO GET BACK TO PA!

    We should have a little training session there! Bring HASHEY THIS YEAR!

    J

  4. Ross Says:

    What is the point of kettlebell juggling?

  5. Logan Christopher Says:

    Great to talk to you last night Jedd!

    I have to say that this is a great tutorial for getting started with juggling kettlebells. I’ll be working with some heavier bells myself for the various juggling movements in the near future.

    Ross, kettlebell juggling has ton’s of benefits. Besides the obvious strength and conditioning you improve hand speed, coordination, and its just plain fun.

    Logan Christopher
    http://www.kettlebelljuggling.com

  6. Jedd Says:

    Ross,
    Juggling is great for conditioning.

    It is a series of exlosive movements of the lower body and upper body. You really get breathing hard and your heart rate goes up. It feels great to hit a string of 20 or so in a row. With a lighter bell you can hit way more.

    Plus it is hell of a lot of fun.

    -Jedd-

  7. Jedd Johnson Says:

    Those are great. This wasn’t meant to be an expo of juggling talents, but rather a demonstration of how to get started.

    Have you submitted video toward attaining any of Logan’s Progressions/Rankings that he started?

    It would be cool to see you on there.

    Congrats on your new position within RKC.

    Jedd

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