Updated: Feb 10
KPP: Beyond Kettlebell Basics
Swings are the quintessential exercise that the kettlebell world revolves around, but how do you move your kettlebell training forward from there? Let's say you have spent countless hours swinging kettlebells with one and two hands and you have even experimented with outside the body swings and a bit of juggling. How do you continue to build swing skills while moving beyond and continuing to progress? Enter Kettlebell Partner Passing (KPP), the system to take your swing power to integrated athleticism. This article focuses on what KPP is, the origins of KPP, the benefits of the system, and practical exercises to prepare yourself to be a good partner to pass with.
Kettlebell Partner Passing® is a dynamic system I designed with friends to sustain an athletic state of flow by playing catch with the kettlebell. KPP is a system of advanced basics that revolves around the kettlebell swing as the foundational movement... it's the next step in kettlebell training. The training effects and benefits of KPP complement traditional hard style training while improving strength, athleticism, and general physical preparedness (GPP). In addition to the capacity for strength building, KPP is a journey to greater depths in life and relationships through communication, cooperation and connection. KPP is a community building tool that develops and strengthens the individual as well as the group and creates a synergistic environment that helps participants grow stronger together in a way that could not be achieved alone.
On the set of Kettlebell Basics for Strength Coaches and Personal Trainers fourteen years ago, I suggested to Brett Jones that we pass a kettlebell back and forth. When we passed a kettlebell for the first time that day, the seeds were sown for what one day would grow into KPP. I was instantly captivated by passing bells and saw the vast potential for developing Kettlebell Partner Passing into a system beyond the basic two hand pass.
I became a committed student. The more I practiced, the more I gained a deeper understanding of basic passing patterns, which opened doors to the more advanced passing movements and drills. This inspiring experience helped me develop KPP into a safe and accessible practice for others. I continue to innovate, expand and evolve the system far beyond what I ever imagined possible on that first day passing a kettlebell with Brett.
Make no mistake: KPP is not an easy path. It is not for everyone and it is not a practice that is without risk and responsibility. But what worthwhile path is easy and risk-free?
The many physical benefits of KPP---strength, eye-hand coordination, athleticism and force reduction, production and redirection---are unparalleled. KPP forges both conventional and unconventional strength, due to the many unique ways of throwing and catching the bell.
Advanced forms of KPP provide optimal methods for learning how to root and uproot in a moment’s notice and build powerful and coordinated feet, legs, torso and arms. Releasing and catching the bell forges a freakishly functional type of grip strength in the wrists, hands, fingers and forearms. The physical benefits of KPP are virtually limitless and many more will be identified with further research.
The intangible benefits of KPP may be even more valuable than the physical benefits. Students learn to read their partner and the energy of the bell to help make optimal split-second decisions when passing and catching. When used as designed, KPP demands a degree of presence and awareness through cooperation that is seldom experienced in day to day life. This rare experience requires high levels of trust, connection and focus that breaks down barriers between individuals. The illusion of control is shattered when we realize predicting what is going to happen with any given pass is impossible. Partners develop a deep sense of trust that demands total presence due to the very real cost for failure that exists.
KPP students begin by learning the single bell two hand pass. The two hand pass is the main focus for a beginner to master, as there are many nuances to giving and receiving optimal passes. All other KPP skills emerge from the two hand pass. The next level of focused training is one hand kettlebell passing patterns and drills. One hand KPP drills serve as progressive steps towards FreestyleKPP™. FreestyleKPP™ is a dynamic, fluid, unscripted way to pass bells that promotes individual and partner expressions of strength, athleticism and cooperation in a continuously moving flow.
KPP is versatile in its application. KPP can be applied to fit well with just about any style of training; it can be used as a warm up and cool down, to supplement other strength training protocols, and as a standalone, well-rounded strength and conditioning program. Preparing for kettlebell passing without a partner can be accomplished by adapting some basic kettlebell swing practices.
Here are my suggestions to prepare for KPP:
· Begin by letting go of the bell during the float phase of the swing and quickly catching it with both hands.
· Progress to two hand backflips. Backflips will translate directly to flipping the bell to your partner.
· Practice two hand forward flips. This will prepare you for the straight pass.
· When you feel comfortable with the first few drills, find a sand box and let go of the bell on the count of 3.
· In the first set, let the bell fly naturally without any attempt to control it.
· Ask yourself, “What would have happened if I had a partner in front of me?”
· Progress to the straight pass, which means throwing the bell without flipping it and making it land with the bell bottom flat in the sand and the handle straight up (this is not as easy as it sounds!).
· Practice this until you can repeat the steps at will without really thinking about them; the skills feel like second nature. People who put the time in to single person drills tend to be better partners to pass with than those who jump right to passing.
KPP is a system that applies kettlebell principals far beyond basic kettlebell swing techniques that most people practice. KPP offers the possibility to develop strength in ways that traditional KPP training does not. KPP provides many physical and nonphysical benefits including: builds strong feet, legs, torso, and arms; generates freakish grip strength; promotes athleticism, connection and trust; enhances presence and awareness through cooperation; hones hand/eye coordination; versatility in application.
If you would like more information, please visit the KPP website, www.kppass.com and check out the Kettlebell Solo program to get started. Consider attending one of the upcoming workshops which are listed on the website under “Events.”
I look forward to passing bells with you soon!!