Judging Criteria

The Judge has a serious job to do. Athletes have trained extremely hard for months (sometimes years) to display their best effort, on a certain date and time, for all the World to see, and the Judge greatly determines the validity of their performance. The first goal of the Judge is to control to the best of their ability the safety of the Lifter on the Platform. The goal of next importance is fairness to all the Lifters in regards to impartiality and “Judgement” of the Lifts. Simplification of the tasks of the Judge is important to the growth of the Sport of Kettlebell Lifting.  On the day of the Competition, the Judges ruling is final.


The Lifting Stages should be no smaller than 5×5 (encouraged to be as big as possible) and be made of hard rubber and/or wood. There should be a minimum of 2 feet between Lifter Stages. There should be a chalk stand and a spray-bottle of clean water available to Lifters, and preferably 1 per Lifting Stage.


The Lifter is permitted to wear any sponsored clothing and or markings that are not offensive to the general public. They may wear warmup suits before their Stage Time, but only approved clothing is permitted on the Lifter Stage. Approved clothing consists of shorts that expose the knees, and a shirt that covers the torso and shoes that tie or strap. Athletic underclothes like briefs, socks and sports bras are recommended.


The Lifter should respect fellow Competitors, Judges and the Audience. No profanity should be used, and any disputes should be directed to the Head Judge for future Competitions. Lifters should be “on-deck” and appear on the Lifter Stage immediately after the completion of the previous Lifters performance, ready for preparation of their kettlebells and Judge inspection. Dropping the kettlebells out of control should be avoided and any purposeful dropping at the conclusion of the performance could result in cancellation from future Events as a matter of safety. 


The gear of a Kettlebell Lifter is minimal. It’s possible to perform the exercises without any special equipment, but approved gear includes knee and elbow sleeves/wraps, wrist wraps, sweatbands and headbands. Chalk is the only thing allowed for the hands, and a belt is permitted. No gloves or tape permitted. If you choose to wear a belt, it cannot be used to assist the lift in any way. Resting the elbows on the belt or using it to launch the weight is not permitted and will result in a Stop at the Judge’s discretion. It’s strictly up to the Lifter to convince the Judge they are not using the belt illegally, and they should consult the Judge in the minutes before the performance to clarify that Judge’s standards of proper use.


Belt: <10 cm wide, <8 mm thick. Only WeightLifting or Kettlebell Lifting belts allowed

Chalk: Magnesium

Wrist or Elbow wraps: <1.5 meters long and 10 cm wide

Knee wraps: <25 cm wide


The Judge should first take a moment to inspect the lifter, their equipment and introduce themselves, allowing the Lifter to hear the Judges voice. The Judge will give the Lifter a firm, clear and quick verbal COUNT, NO-COUNT or STOP! Otherwise the Judge has no reason to speak with the Lifter, nor does the Lifter have reason to speak with the Judge during the performance unless a matter of safety, at which time the set can be terminated by either party and the situation dealt with.


A verbal count is given by the Judge when the Lifter gives a satisfactory repetition of an exercise (see below for each exercise description). The Judge should do their best to determine the lockout and final fixation, and develop a count rhythm if the lifter continues to show control, as to not hold them. If the lifter is unable to stop movement of the kettlebell quickly, the Judge may hold them until such time they fix the kettlebell by withholding the count. If the Lifter returns the kettlebells from lockout and fixation before the Judge issues the count, the repetition can be judged “no-count”. 


If a verbal no-count is given, the Lifter must return to rack and determine on their own what the cause of the foul was and correct it. A yellow flag signals visually to the lifter they have been given a no-count, and that they should proceed with caution and clean up the execution of the exercise for the next considered repetition.

A repetition is not counted under the following conditions: 

The exercises are executed as an uninterrupted movement. (i.e. no press-outs)

The kettlebells are Jerked from the chest alternately

• The position of the arms changed during the first dip before the Jerk

• There is no fixation in the starting position or the lockout.


If a verbal stop is given, the Lifter must set the kettlebell(s) down and remove themselves from the Platform area immediately until such time the other competitors finish and their time runs out. The Lifter’s results will be frozen at the time of the violation. A red flag signals visually to the Lifter to stop execution and leave the Lifter Stage. The “Stop” command is issued if the kettlebell(s) are set on the shoulder joint(s) or the platform, or if the lifter allows the kettlebell(s) to fall from the racked position (short cycle Jerk only).


Fixation is the final factor in a Judge issuing a count. It proves proficiency for fairness, and aids in safety for the Lifters. The Lifter must control the kettlebell(s) at lockout. A noticeable pause, without wobble or bounce, must be displayed. The Judge may at their discretion anticipate the stable pause and give the qualified lifter a quick count, but at any time the Judge may hold the count if the Lifter fails to control the Kettlebell(s).


The Lifter is not permitted to touch the kettlebell with the non-working hand, and is further disallowed to use the non-working hand as any support for the execution of the exercise (i.e. on the knee, ground). It is permitted to adjust clothing, clear sweat or scratch an itch etc.