Saturday, 3 November 2012


handstand tutorial
The unsupported handstand is a classic test of hand balancing skills.
This brief tutorial will show you how to progress from a wall supported handstand to an unsupported handstand, and give you an idea of the training required.

Before attempting the exercise, and in order to develop the basic strength for it, it is recommended that you have reached level 7 in the handstand push-up progression.

The general consensus among gymnastics coaches nowadays is that handstands are best trained in the wall facing position, which promotes a straighter back (and clearly, as you will see from my pictures, I learnt my handstands the other way!). Whilst this may seem daunting at first, it is quite easy to get into the position by walking your feet up the wall (while keeping your arms straight).
To get down, simply walk your legs down while coming forward on your hands, or roll out, making sure you bend your arms to lower yourself towards the floor and that you keep your head tucked in as you perform a forward roll...
Once you can manage 5 sets of 30s in the supported handstand position, you are ready to practice unsupported handstands.

Having trained the crow stand will help you understand the mechanics of hand balancing: digging your fingers into the ground to shift your center of gravity back, and slightly bending your elbows to move it forward. Make sure you can hold the position for at least 30s before proceeding.

From the wall handstand position, now kick one leg off the wall and attempt to find the point of balance... You're probably going to spend quite a bit of time in this position over the next couple of weeks, so enjoy the initial feeling of balance... you'll keep getting it and losing it for a while!

handstand training
Now bring the second leg off the wall. Make sure you push hard into the floor with your hands, which will keep your shoulders 'tight', and slightly contract your abs.
It helps to keep your feet together at this stage, as flailing legs will disrupt your balance.
As you gain confidence, and attempt to find the point of balance, you will most certainly overshoot your kick off the wall, and you will have to roll forward out of the handstand as discussed above. Tuck your chin in, and bend your arms to lower yourself towards the floor, then roll out.

handstand training
Doing wall handstand push ups will increase your shoulder strength, which will in turn make hand balancing much more natural and comfortable. Simply carry on with the handstand push up progression while training your handstands (for instance on your off days).

handstand training
I've personally found that it does help to practice the handstand with my back to the wall as well, as you develop a feeling for saving a handstand which you have just overshot.

Dig your fingers into the floor, and take one leg off the wall, then the other, trying to find the point of balance.

Once you can comfortably balance for 15+ seconds with either your back to the wall or when facing the wall, it is time to practice unsupported handstands.

handstand training
You will need to develop a feeling at first for how much you need to kick to get into the position and find your point of balance. This in my experience comes quite quickly once you can balance comfortably off a wall.
A soft surface such as grass is ideal to train the skill, though sand can be a little unstable (but it makes for some great beach pictures!).

Best of luck with your training!

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