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.
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.
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.
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.
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