The Key to the Kettlebell Swing? Patience, Young Grasshopper

I think half of what I do every day is to help people relax.  That's not what you may expect to hear.  But whether it's breathing in a corner, slowing someone down on a drill or exercise, or just trying to be a calming presence, I've realized that most people need to work on this important skill.

That's because movement, strength, and power all require a dichotomy of tension and relaxation.  It's something I didn't fully appreciate when I was younger, because I used to tell people to "Squeeze. Err'thang."  But the secret to good movement - and being more athletic - is the ability to get tight and then relax.  It's a balance that martial artists have been preaching for centuries.

While I could write this post about any movement, the kettlebell swing is where this balance is most noticeable.  A great swing is made up of power and patience - or tension and relaxation. If you fall to either side of the spectrum, your swing won't look very good. That said, most people understand the idea of getting power behind their swings. But they don't understand the idea of relaxation and patience.

Here's a quick video I put together to explain:

The float is the relaxation phase of the swing.  It plays an integral part with A) proper timing, B) being able to use and open your hips, and C) not ripping your hands apart.  It's not a coincidence that those who often rip open their callouses on swings, cleans, or snatches, tend to struggle with the float. (And they also tend to be more sympathetic dominant..)

So next time, instead of trying to do your swings are quickly as you can, think about trying to maximize the amount of time it takes to do them.  

After all, the float is the only rest you get ;)