Listen I'm not THAT against going over head with a kettlebell swing, I'm not crazy about it, but I'm not dead set against it. The problem is pretty much everyone I see doing it SHOULDN'T be going over head. Over head movements, for any coach/trainer worth their salt, is something that should be earned. Yeah I like overhead pressing and other movements as such. I believe they are movements that you need the right mobility and stability in your shoulders and thoracic spine to do. Below here is a check list to go over to see if you should even attempt an American KB swing, assuming you've mastered the Russian KB swing.
-Lay on the floor on your back.
-Knees bent feet flat on the floor
-Pull your belly button to the floor
-Keep your arms straight raise them out in front of you so your fingers are pointing to the ceiling
-Then mover your arms over head trying to put your thumbs on the ground above your head, keep the arms straight
Now if your lower back (lumbar spine) arches or you simply can not touch the floor, do not even consider doing an American swing, please.
Another great way to check if you're good to go on overhead movement is to do the Shoulder Mobility screen from the FMS. The general belief is that you need at LEAST a 2 on this to be able to do most over head movements.
With all that said I prefer the Russian swing simply because everyone can do it without risking a major shoulder injury, assuming technique is on point. Let's expand on the technique talk a bit. The other major issue I have with the American swing is most can't get the Russian KB swing technique right. It's like taking someone that can't drive a sedan and saying here try to drive this 18 wheeler.
- Squeeze the glutes
-HINGE don't squat
-Brace the core
-Bell at chest height
Reading the list above, if your brain went, "hmm never heard/done that" then you absolutely need to stick with the Russian swing. I personally will 99.9% of the time stick with the Russian swing with my clients. I'm not comfortable with the American swing so I'm not going to use it unless someone holds a gun to my head. There are plenty of other over head movements to train with that I'm far more comfortable with. There's also something about having a 16 kg object that's on a pivot over my head (or a client's/athlete's head) that I'm just not that comfortable with.
That's all I got for you today folks, take a swing, go out there and get after it!