The tactical side of GS, part 1

In previous blogs, I have stated that performance can be broken down into technical, tactical, physical and psychological elements. In this blog, I will have a quick look at the tactical side of things.
There are two aspects to the tactical side of GS, firstly optimising your pace to get the most possible reps, secondly considering your opponents and somehow helping you to defeat them. I will look at the former as for the majority of people kettlebell sport is a friendly sport where you challenge yourself more so than other people.
If you compete regularly, you should have a strong idea of what your personal best within a given lift is. With this in mind, you should do everything you can to set yourself up for success to match or exceed this during competition.
Here are a few elements that sometimes throw people off:

– Time of competition – being different from training time (change training time)
– Kettlebell and window are different shaped – different brands of kettlebells to your training ones
– Limited time to chalk your kettlebell, (you or your coach) practice chalking in 2 minutes or less (in line with world guidelines)
– Competition rhythm throws it off – develop a competitive strategy and train it
– Environment different to your normal environment – some competitions are very hot and humid (in Australia) and if you always train in an air-conditioned gym it might not prepare you for this
I will now outline how I develop an optimal pacing strategy for jerks or long cycle. I like to try and find a consistent pace with the sprint at the end. I will use my sprint to determine if my steady state space is too slow and progress from there:
Here’s an example of my 20 kg jerk:

Week 1: 12RPM X 9 + 26RPM = 136 reps (14 RIR)

Week 2: 13RPM X 8 + 15RPM + 20 RPM (8ish RIR) = 140 reps

Week 3: 14RPM X 7 + 15RPM + 17RPM + 20RPM

Week 4: 15RPM X 8 (did not complete full ten minutes)
So week 3 seems to be my best results so I would you that pacing strategy.

It’s worth mentioning that I have not tested a 10-minute jerk set for a long time, you might only need to do 2 sessions if you’re quite across your pace. Some people might find a psychological benefit from doing a test run of their training plan, that way they know that they can do it on the competition day.
Biathlon is a different animal in terms of pace. Recovery time between jerk and snatch sets, also your effort during the jerk really affect the snatch outcome. Sometimes holding back a little bit in your jerk may result in a better total, you can test out all these strategies with different mock competitions.


My name is James Ross, I’m a qualified personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach and sports scientist. I am a founder and coach at The Richmond Gym in Melbourne and started the website

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