If you look closely, you’ll see handstands everywhere in gymnastics. From KinderGym to the Olympics, handstands are hidden in all sorts of different skills. Sometimes they’re easy to spot, like in some of our acro skills; but they can be trickier to see in fast skills like handsprings. This means it’s really important to get our shape strong from right at the beginning.
So how do we get a strong handstand shape so we can learn cool skills like cartwheels, giants and handstands on partners? It all starts with mastering our basic shapes.
Standing tall with our arms to our ears, a rocket shape is essentially an upside-down handstand. The secret to standing up straight is making sure your arms, shoulders, hips and feet are all in a line – and it’s the same for handstands.
In advanced skills like giants, we can see the rocket shape transform into a handstand, then back to rocket. Check it out:
How can we practise at home? Try some tummy to the wall spiderman handstands.
Try to keep arms nice and straight with fingers forward, once you’re upside down try to push through your shoulders and stretch your body as tall as you can, just like in our rocket shape. Get a parent or a friend to check your shape and count how many gymnastics seconds you can hold for (one gymnastics, two gymnastics, three gymnastics etc.).
Angry Cat + Front Support:
These two shapes isolate the ‘arms to ears’ part of the handstand and help us learn how to turn on our core muscles. Just like in a spiderman handstand, make sure arms are straight and fingers are facing forward. If you push up through your shoulders and squeeze your tummy muscles, you’ll feel the ‘ribs in’ part of the handstand. This part is super important for keeping our body aligned because it makes us open our shoulders and engage our core to stay straight.
How can we practise at home? You can practise your angry cat + front support almost anywhere! Start in your angry cat shape and straighten out your legs until you’re in front support. You can challenge yourself by practicing on bosu balls, putting your feet up on the couch or balancing on a scooter board. Just make sure you keep your body tight and strong.
Now you’ve mastered the basics…
The sky is the limit! Have a think about what your dream skills are and ask your coaches for some drills to practise at home. Practising handstands for just 3-5 minutes a day will help you achieve your handstand goals and grow your confidence in being upside down. We’d love to see all the creative ways that you practise your handstand shapes, make sure to use the hashtag #skylarksports on your social posts so we can see your hard work!