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Count to Three for Safety

The aim of Kettlebell Partner Passing is to achieve a state of flow that connects you more deeply to yourself and your partner, and brings both partners fully into the present moment. However, since passing kettlebells carries inherent risk, there are specific safety protocols in place that protect both partners, the most important of which is called the three count protocol.


The three count protocol occurs at the start of every Kettlebell Partner Passing set to make sure each partner is paying attention and ready to pass the kettlebell. Besides being a way to ensure safety, the three count protocol is an opportunity for partners to start syncing up energies and attention with one another, in preparation for entering a state of flow together.


To initiate the three count protocol, the sender locks eyes with the receiver and asks if they are ready. If the receiver says yes, the sender counts to three out loud while performing two swings, then a pass on three. Eye contact must be maintained from the time the receiver says “yes” to when the sender counts “two”. If eye contact is lost by the sender or receiver during that time, the three count protocol is restarted, beginning with the sender asking the receiver if they are ready, to which the receiver replies yes in order to restart the count. As soon as the sender says “two”, the receiver’s eyes go to the bell and the sender’s eyes go to their target (the triangle formed by their thighs).



Eye contact during the three count protocol is an important safety measure to ensure each partner is present and paying attention. Maintaining eye contact creates a level of stability between partners that allow for safe passing. On a deeper level, making eye contact is the initiation of the connection between partners that allows them to enter a flow state together. The eyes, in this instance, are the gateway to the flow state. Making eye contact is a statement of openness and vulnerability, confirming each partner is ready and available to participate fully.


Counting out loud is another important safety measure that ensures each partner knows exactly when the pass is occurring. Counting silently may lead to a misunderstanding about when the pass is happening that affects the success and safety of the passing bout.


It’s important to train the three count protocol prior to passing a kettlebell. One way to practice is to incorporate the three count when performing straight and backflip tosses from the Kettlebell Solo Foundations ebook (simply imagine your partner is standing in front of you, ask the appropriate questions, and count out loud). This gets you used to asking “are you ready?” each time and counting to three out loud while you swing and release the bell.


Another way to practice the three count protocol is during the initial stages of learning how to pass with a partner. Have your partner stand in front of you and practice doing the three count protocol before tossing the bell so that it lands a safe distance in front of them. Taking the time to establish a habit of performing the three count enhances the safety and success of your Kettlebell Partner Passing endeavors.

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