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The handstand is the most fundamental and crucial element in all of gymnastics. It’s body position can be seen in elements done on every single apparatus in the sport. The development of a gymnast’s handstand is generally started at the very earliest stages of recreational levels, but gymnasts should continually train and refine their position throughout their entire career.

The Position
Body position should be straight, head neutral. Look at your hands from underneath your eyebrows. Push up from the floor so you extend in your shoulders. Keep your stomach and chest in and your butt and legs tight (squeezed) to maintain a straight body position.

Only your hands are keeping you in a handstand position (keeping your balance). If falling over – apply pressure to the floor with your fingers. If falling under – loosen your finger pressure to the floor. Maintain a tight body position.

Make sure your hands are facing straight ahead, fingers spread apart, and arms straight. Keep your arms about shoulder-width apart.

Your entire body should be in position so that you can draw a straight line all the way from your toes, down your hips, through your shoulders and to your hands.

Training TipsGeneral

The more time you can spend in a handstand, the better. But, your focus should always remain on the correct body position. Whether that requires you having a spotter or doing them against a wall, be sure that you are creating the muscle memory you want your body to retain while you are in the handstand. As soon as you begin sacrificing the body position, it is probably more beneficial to come down and rest than try to stay up, reinforcing bad technique.

Midsection Strength

Once again, having a strong core is beneficial to maintaining the proper handstand position. In most all of the training tips listed, the tendency will be for the gymnast to arch in the lower back during the exercises. Strengthening the lower back and stomach will help to prevent that undesirable body position. Review our stomach strength article.

Body Tighteners Laying on the Floor

On your stomach, squeeze your whole body and try to raise your stomach off the floor.

On your back, squeeze your whole body and press your lower back to the floor as hard as you can.On your back, squeeze your whole body and press your lower back to the floor as hard as you can.

Handstand Shoulder Shrugs (with a spot or against a wall)

This exercise will help to strengthen the shoulder muscles that are required to maintain extension in your handstand. Be sure to maintain the proper position in the “down” and “up” phases of your shrug.

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Handstand Punches from Floor

Preferably, on a spring floor, punch to the handstand position quickly. You are not trying to hold the handstand in this drill, just hit the position over and over. The tendency for younger (or weaker) gymnasts will be to arch as they get to the handstand, so concentrate especially on keeping a tight lower back.Handstand Punches from Floor.

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Handstand Blocks

Another good shoulder strengthening exercise. Gymnast should concentrate on blocking off the floor through their shoulders and staying tight as they land in the handstand. This drill is also good for handsprings on floor and vault.

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Handstand Trainer Handstands – Also read Using the Handstand Trainer

This drill is similar to the Handstand Punches from the floor, but may be more suitable to those who have a hard time punching all the way to the handstand.

This drill also simulates the cast to handstand motion on uneven bars or high bar. Again, the focus should be on hitting the tight handstand position over and over, not on holding the handstand.Handstand Trainer Handstands – Also read Using the Handstand Trainer

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Handstands

Gymnast should practice handstands on every apparatus, particularly the 3 below, shown in order of increasing difficulty. Again, the more time you spend in the handstand, while maintaining the proper body position, the better. Some gymnasts may require a spotter, or need to do the handstand against a wall to help stay in the correct position.

Parallettes, Floor, Ring Rocker