Handstand help

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flipsandpotter

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I know this is a really basic skill, but i'm new to the world of gymnastics.
I'm sixteen and i've been doing gymnastics about a month.
I'm currently at a gym that is much more focused on rec gymnastics than competitive. My class is pretty big (with girls who can not even do cartwheels) so I don't get a lot of attention from my coach. My friend and I are looking to transfer to a more competitive gym to a level 1 or 2 team because we would like to do gymnastics more often.
So back to the topic...i want to master handstands. I can do pretty good straight legged flamingos. But whenever I try to go into a handstand, my legs either don't go high enough or they go to far and I fall the other way.
Is there any way for me to improve my handstands so that I can get up and stay up?
Thank you!
 
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Wally

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Hi Flipsandpotter
It may be a base skill but what an important one to master. Just as you took time when you first learnt to stand on your feet, so too does your mind need to learn to balance on your hands.

Firstly you must develop good shape. You can balance all sorts of handstand shape but most will not lead onto further skill. Start shaping by lying on the floor face down. Your chin is on the floor and your eyes are looking along the inner forearm to your hands. Your arms should be straight, off the ground (thus opening your shoulders) and covering your ears. Your hips are rotated under. (The best way I can explain this is rolling your hips round like michael Jackson!) Your legs are straight tight and off the floor. I get my gymnast to revisit this position often to get a muscle memory of the position.

secondly the entry into the hs is important. Stand in a TALL position with your arms extended so that your ears are covered, making one line from tip of fingers to end of toes. When this long shape TILTS I ask my gymnasts to make a hollow chest like as if someone was about to hit them in the chest. As the tilt happens remember to keep that long line from tip of fingers to toes, hips under and shoulders open. Large Step into a lunge which is the block to change the movement into rotation. This is the crutial stage. Do NOT reach for the ground... keep your arms near your ears and as your swing leg swings up your extended (open shoulders) arms will touch the ground. The thrust leg should remain bent until the hands touch. I get my girls to do this without the handstand quite alot. When hands touch they rock back to the lunge position, back down to hand touch etc etc. We call these see-saws because the swing leg and arms move up & down with eachother around the bent thrust leg.

Quite often I find the girls who often fail to get up in HS don't have this See-saw balance. We then do See-Saw to L handstand which means the thrust leg goes only to 90 degrees. If you do the see-saw drill right your swing leg is well on its way to being above your head as you drive hard with your thrust leg. It is really important to push the ground away strongly and keep those ears and arms together. Push your whole body high.

Of course strength to hold your weight on your arms is important. We do 45 degree hs with feet on the beam or wall to work on strong body tension. Handstands against a wall, face in so that you can move your hands in close and therefore ensure very open shoulders. Get someone to mark where your toes are then constantly try to push taller.

Getting yourself upside down in positions like above as often as possible helps to get a feel. Make sure you remember that shape I explained first when the gymnast lies face down on the floor. Oh yes .... sometimes gymnasts have their fingers facing outwards to counteract lack of strength by locking the elbows. Don't start this dangerous habit. Fingers forward or slightly inward.

Learn to be able to do a 1/4 turn out of HS to step down to negate the worry of kicking over too much.

Hey... take time with your HS and work on good ones as it is a vital building block.

Hope you can understand my ramb;ings. I usually describe everything with stick drawings.
Cheers
Wal
 
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addicted2tumbling

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well i used to have the same problem 2! i would get up and come right back down! so get a friend to hold ur legs and look down at the floor while in it and make them correct u if u have an arched back. Also another easy way that really helped me is doing them against the wall! go as close as you can to the wall and stay there 4 as long as you can. I did them for a week everyday and now i can hold my handstand up for 6 seconds! also when you are up in a handstand up against the wall try doing a handstand push up. You need a lot of armstrength to hold up a handstand 2! so do push ups often! hope this helps!!!
 

rocky

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Jan 8, 2009
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Yes, doing them against the wall is a good idea. You can also try pushing your feet off the wall for a little bit and try to balance for a short time and then bring your feet back onto the wall. You can then repeat this a few times before coming down. This can help you get the feeling for how to balance. You will need to push down with your fingers to keep yourself in balance.
 
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BlairBob

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I'm just going to see at the beginning, as much as you may hate it because it's difficult; you need to work the wall HS and variations A LOT.

And you need to spend enough time on your hands practicing the handstand to get good at it.

2x a week is not enough. Don't burn yourself by working too much on it that your joints start getting sore; but you need to work on it nearly daily.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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A handstand is a deceptively difficult skill to master for a beginning gymnast, but it is essentially the base on which the entire sport is built. Expect to spend a lot of time perfecting them, even once you move on to other skills.

Handstands with a spot and handstands with your belly against a wall are often useful for getting the shape perfected, but as far as learning the ballance itself, there are no secrets; you just have to do it over and over and over again.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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So when you're in a handstand, you should be looking at the floor/your hands? Not at the wall?
It depends on who you ask. Some coaches prefer it done with the head completely neutral (ie looking at the wall) and some prefer it done with the head slightly up to look at the floor (though it should not be out enough to cause a break in shoulder angle). I fall in the latter category.
 
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Wally

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The head to me is ALMOST neutral but the eyes are definitely rolled back as far as possible looking to the hands. I tell my gymnast to be looking down their arms to the hands because if I tell them to look at their hands they often put the head back and this tends to ruin the open shoulder angle and the open shoulder is a key factor in getting a good HS.
 
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BlairBob

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I'm with Wally and Jay on HS head alignment, especially when it comes to MAG. You're not gonna do a neutral head alignment HS on rings or PB. Biomechanically, it's a stronger position.

If I see ears poking out, I pull on them lightly. I want 180 degrees of shoulder flexion in the armpits if I can get it.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I'm with Wally and Jay on HS head alignment, especially when it comes to MAG. You're not gonna do a neutral head alignment HS on rings or PB. Biomechanically, it's a stronger position.

If I see ears poking out, I pull on them lightly. I want 180 degrees of shoulder flexion in the armpits if I can get it.
I hadn't really given it much thought, but I guess most of the coaches I know who coach it with head neutral ar girls' coaches and most of the coaches who teach it with the head up ar guys' coaches.
 
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BlairBob

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Depends. For HB/UB, head position should be neutral on some skills. However it sort of depends on what skills. I've heard mixed ideologies for looking at bar with ears covered to stayin neutral from both camps.
 
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