Top Kettlebell Sport Coach Answers 7 Questions

Steven Khuong taught me most of what I know about Kettlebell Sport, and coached me to my Master of Sport ranking. At competitions, Steve can be found behind a camera taking pictures and video, and of course coaching his athletes. Steve is one of the founders of KettleGuard, but stays behind the scenes and leaves the face of the brand to Jessica DiBiase. Despite shying from the limelight, Steve is a high-level, well-respected Kettlebell Sport coach with a wealth of knowledge. He is one of the best American coaches in the sport, having produced 7 Master of Sport athletes, 2 Master of Sport World Class level athletes, and the top-ranking female snatcher in USA Kettlebell Sport, Melissa Swanson.

  1. Can you give me a brief history of your experience in Kettlebell Sport?

Maya and I began our Kettlebell Lifting journey with the American Kettlebell Club (AKC) led by Valery Fedorenko and Catherine Imes in 2008.  Maya, along with Jessica DiBiase, Sara Nelson, and Surya Voinar-Fowler were dubbed the first “All-Women Kettlebell Sport Team” at the time by Lorraine Patten [for those not familiar with Lorraine, she was co-founder of NAKF and a figure deeply rooted in USA kettlebell history]. Due to their resiliency in competition and travel, the ladies earned notoriety for being the only team in the USA to have all members hold a Master of Sport rank.  They were also the first Americans to earn medals (including Gold) at international IUKL competitions; later they began to acquire sponsorships from iconic sports brands such as Athleta / GAP.  They really helped change the facade of Kettlebell Sport, making it not only accessible to a wider audience, but also appealing for more women to participate based on their individual stories of triumph (including weight loss and motherhood).

Since the inception of the first group of Ice Chamber Kettlebell Girls, we continued to welcome more female athletes interested in learning the skill-based work required to compete.  Lifters such as Jen Cord (MSWC), Brittany van Schravendijk (MS), and Melissa Swanson (MSWC / MSIC), along with over a dozen more women with respected ranks all started as beginners here with no previous experience but have developed into excellent Kettlebell Sport athletes. Currently, based on IUKL competition protocols, Melissa is arguably the best female kettlebell lifter outside of Russia and Kazakhstan.  She is the only non-Russian female lifter in Kettlebell Sport history to beat athletes from Russia and Kazakhstan simultaneously to win the World Cup.


  1. How has the sport grown since you first started?  

When we first started, it was difficult to find more than four competitions per year outside of Europe.  Today, you can find 4-6 competitions per week globally.  The level of competition has also skyrocketed. Countries such as Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Croatia, and Slovenia, to name a few, are really pushing the standards.

In the USA, thanks to the AKA (American Kettlebell Alliance), we now have an annual calendar of competitions and a unified Team USA representing at World Championships.

Finally, the number of women competing across the globe has expanded exponentially. For a sport that was traditionally dominated by men, we have seen a positive shift in female participation.


  1. What are some common mistakes you see lifters make in competition?

The most common mistake I see lifters make in competition is perhaps a lack of preparation.  Preparation is everything from technique to strategy to fitness. I’ve seen many lifters come to compete with one or two of these attributes, but only the elite compete consistently with all three attributes.

Read part 2 here.

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