At first glance, Kettlebell Partner Passing (KPP) may seem like a fancy party trick. While it certainly can be used as that, KPP is actually about building connection, communication, and cooperation with the person standing across from you. The goal of KPP is to send good passes and improve relationships, with your passing partner and everyone else in your life. As partners develop the ability to send better passes, a communication upgrade becomes available to all of their relationships.
Set Up for Success
There is a sender and a receiver in KPP. The partner who throws the bell is the sender, and the partner who catches the bell is the receiver. The message being sent is the pass between the two partners. There are two main types of passes, or messages, that can be sent. The first is a shoddy pass, which is when the sender wants to get the bell out of their hands quickly, without taking the receiver into account. The second is a good pass, which is when the sender is focused on giving the receiver the best pass possible. The goal is to send good passes to your partner, to the best of your ability.
The message and intent behind the two passes is different, whether conscious or unconscious. The receiver has to interpret whether the message sent is a shoddy pass coming from a place of fear and insecurity or a good pass coming from a place of courage and awareness. When it comes to relating with others outside of KPP, sending a "good pass" is analogous to setting someone up to succeed. Sending a good pass could be many things; a kind gesture to make someone feel comfortable in a social situation or approaching a tough, honest conversation in a loving way.
Discerning what type of message is being sent and how to respond is the job of the receiver. The receiver has the opportunity to transmute whatever energy is being sent through the message when they return the bell. The optimal way to respond is with a good pass, no matter what was sent. This requires self-discipline and compassion, and leads to a stronger, more positive self-esteem.
Decoding and responding to messages in KPP is a metaphor for relating in life. Regardless of the way someone communicates with you, how you respond to their communication will determine the level of respect and understanding in your relationship (at least on your side of the fence).
You Get What You Give
Partners learn to read each other’s body language so they can adjust passes and make them optimal for one another. In time, partners start to identify what passes create what results. For instance, if a short pass is thrown that doesn’t get to your partner, they have to reach for the bell, which jerks them down. Conversely, if the bell is thrown too far, it jams the other person and pushes them back. Somewhere between jerking and jamming is the sweet spot. Every rep gives valuable feedback on how to make the next pass more optimal for your partner (and for you, because you get what you give!).
When it comes to communicating outside of passing bells, it's equally as important to read the body language and response of the person you're communicating with, and adjusting your communication accordingly. Jamming someone is analogous to forcing your opinion on someone or talking over them, while jerking could mean doing the minimal amount to communicate. The sweet spot is finding the right amount of communication back and forth so that both sides clearly understand one another. While it can be a process to figure out how to communicate in a way that serves all parties involved, it's a very worthwhile one. Each time you communicate is a new opportunity to express yourself more clearly in a way the other person will understand, which brings harmony to the relationship.
Resilient Relationships Require Good Passes
As you learn to read body language and interpret the way someone responds, you can optimize your communication to better understand one another. Just like passing is different every time you do it, communicating is an exchange that is constantly shifting and evolving. While the principles remain the same, it's important to adapt to the individual standing in front of you. When we approach communication with curiosity and kindness, we set ourselves up to have lasting relationships with our loved ones that thrive despite the challenges life throws at us all.