In this series, we’ve covered general guidelines as well the specifics of the Backflip Toss in previous posts (be sure to check them out if you haven’t yet!). Today we’re going to talk about the Straight Toss, which is an equally important exercise to dial in your tossing skills.
What is the Straight Toss?
The Straight Toss consists of swinging a kettlebell for three repetitions while counting out loud, then tossing it forward with the handle upright on the third count. Like all other tosses, the intention is to land the bell flat on its bottom, handle positioned straight up to the sky. Performing the count out loud is important because it engrains the practice of the three count safety protocol that is essential to passing. We can’t stress enough the importance of the three count safety protocol! The two practice swings before you toss allow you to dial in your accuracy, just like a baseball player takes a few swings before he comes to bat. Additionally, it is how we begin every partner passing set so it is necessary to establish the habit before you stand in front of another person.
The Straight Toss has more of an arc to its trajectory than the Backflip Toss. A trajectory that arcs downward at the end will ensure the bell lands with its handle upright and sticks the landing. The Straight Toss resembles the way you would perform the Two Hand Straight Pass to your partner, which is a great pass for beginners to learn because it’s easy to catch. Pro tip: the Straight Pass is much more difficult to throw than you might think! Invest in the Straight Toss (and the Front Flip Toss, coming up next!) to make the transition seamless.
6 Tips to Straight Toss
1. Use the thumbs to gently press the kettlebell handle forward and resist against the bell’s natural desire to flip backwards.
2. Since the bell is traveling forward but not flipping, it will want to tip forward when it lands due to all momentum moving forwards (in the Backflip Toss, the backward momentum of the flip counters the forward momentum of the bell). To counter this, the bell should be thrown with the handle tipped back towards you about 20 degrees.
3. Aim for a landing spot 3-4 feet in front of you (as opposed to 4-5 feet for the Backflip Toss).
4. Follow through with your hands, pointing them at the place you want the bell to land. Just before the bell hits the ground, drop your arms down to your sides.
5. Use the hips to project the bell out and the hands to push the handle forward. The arms are more involved in the Straight Toss than the Backflip Toss.
6. If the bell doesn’t land square to you (window of the kettlebell handle facing you directly), it means you’re pushing harder with one side than the other.
Benefits of the Straight Toss
Tossing builds Aptitude, Body awareness, Confidence, and Depth perception in one's KPP practice (the ABCD’s of tossing). The Straight Toss gives you the aptitude to steer the bell with your thumbs and control the rotation of the bell as it’s being projected away from you, which will improve your straight passing skills specifically. As you become more skilled at tossing the bell, your body awareness will improve and you’ll know how to move your body in sequence to achieve the desired outcome. This will build confidence while using the kettlebell for workouts as well as straight passing it with a partner. Finally, your depth perception will improve as you practice hitting targets at various distances and sticking the landing.
4 Steps to Practice the Straight Toss
1. Let go of the bell without any agenda. Just let the bell go and watch what happens. The tosses in this step are for observation purposes only.
2. Toss the bell with an objective in mind, i.e. going a certain distance or sticking the landing.
3. Develop accuracy by creating a target to toss the bell into or onto (draw a circle in the sand, make a pile of leaves, etc).
4. When you can stick 10 in a row, you’ve achieved boss level. When you can stick 20 in a row, you’ve achieved hoss level.
Even after you begin your passing journey, continue your straight tossing practice. All styles of tossing hone and maintain your skills between sessions with your partner, making you a more enjoyable partner to pass with. Plus, tossing the bell is a great workout and a lot of fun, especially if you find a friend who wants to toss bells with you! Tossing is a great way to bond and prepare to pass together.
PSA: Be sure not to leave divots in the ground at public parks or other areas where people are walking.
Find the rest of the blog series here: