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Handstand contests have always been my favorite contests. Everyone wants to be able to win the contest, but most people are unaware of a few simple tricks and tactics for holding the perfect handstand. These instructions will teach you how to gain mastery in the skill of holding a handstand in order to conquer any handstand contest. Anyone with the desire to improve their handstands will improve rapidly by practicing with these simple instructions.

TIME TO COMPLETE:

Practice may begin at any age! You may continue to refer to (and practice) these instructions until you are satisfied with your handstand abilities.

MATERIALS:

- Work-out clothing (Make sure to tuck in your shirt if it is loose, as you will be repeatedly turning upside-down)

- PERSISTENCE (:

- For safety:

* Soft, squishy mats (NOTE: soft grass may also work well as floor padding if you are slightly more advanced and don’t need something to keep you from falling over) o a wall to lean against (as seen in figure 15)

* A gymnastics coach to help hold you up and keep you from falling over

SAFETY/ABILITY NEEDED:

Beware of a few safety issues when beginning to learn this trick. You will need sufficient arm strength to hold your body weight. There are a few simple exercises you can do to build that strength. Some particularly helpful exercises will be included in these instructions.

Safety tip: keep your legs together and straight while in the handstand to avoid kicking anyone, and to help you balance. Make sure there is plenty of space around you so you don’t kick things or fall on things.

CAUTION: You may experience some dizziness and discomfort if you are not used to being upside-down for long periods of time. This is normal. You want to gain strength by increasing the time you can be upside-down, but make sure you do not push yourself too far.

CAUTION: Use soft mats, a strong wall, and a helper when first attempting this trick. Success is made up of many failures and a lot of practice. Therefore, you may want to begin by using the wall or a helper to hold you up to keep you from falling on your back. Also, insufficient arm muscle may cause your arms to collapse, causing you to fall on your head. You may place a pillow under your head for safety (as seen in figure 14). However, you will want to do your very best to keep your arms straight in order to build the muscle to keep yourself up.

Step 1: Going Up

Begin with your arms up straight pressed against your ears. Your body should make a straight line from your finger-tips to your toes (as shown in figure 1). Alternatively, you may start in the “lunge position” shown in figure 1-b below, giving extra force when you push off your bent front leg.

NOTE on good form: Keep that straight line the entire time you go up and come down (as seen in figures 1 through 6).

Step 2: Half Way

Tilt your body so your hands begin to go to the ground as your back foot lifts.

NOTE: Maintain the straight line from fingertips along your back to your toes (see figure 2). In the middle of the transition your body should form a T shape as seen in figure 3.

Step 3: Continue Up

Continue to lower your hands down as your back foot lifts, keeping your front foot on the ground until your hands touch the ground, as in figure 4.

NOTE: This entire process going up to the handstand is fairly quick so as to provide the necessary momentum to arrive in the handstand position.

TIP: If you are having trouble keeping the front foot on the ground until your hands touch the ground, you may need to practice some stretches to improve your flexibility, such as touching your toes with your feet on the floor and legs straight.

Step 4: Almost There!

Lift your front foot and leg up to the back one, keeping both legs straight the entire time (as seen in figure 5).

Step 5: Align Your Head

Align your head with your arms so that your arms fully cover your ears as in figure 6.

NOTE: For beginners, it may be easier to look at the ground while holding the handstand. Just make sure your back doesn’t bend too much while trying to look down (which will cause you to more easily lose balance).

Step 6: Tighten

Tighten the muscles in your legs and thighs as well as in your stomach in order to get your ankles and knees touching and to have a straight body as seen in the handstand position in figure 6

NOTE: Your toes should be pointed as in figure 12.

Step 7: Lean Your Shoulders Over Your Hands!!!

Align your shoulders so that they are over your hands. See figures 7 through 9.

This is a VERY IMPORTANT part of being able to hold the handstand for a long period of time. Leaning your shoulders over your hands will allow you to balance much easier. If your shoulders are right over your hands or too far toward the direction you came up, you will quickly fall back down the way you came.

NOTE: In figure 8 it appears that I might fall back down, but because of the position of my shoulders and hands, I am easily able to hold this position for a long period of time. On the other hand, my position in figure 9 causes me to fall back down right away.

NOTE: if you are having trouble leaning over in this way, try holding the exercise positions shown in figures 10-11 and 13, with your shoulders over your hands, for approximately one minute every day. This will greatly increase the shoulder muscle necessary to balance in a handstand. Notice how the red lines show the correct shoulder position over the hands.

Step 8: Coming Down

Split your second leg from the first one, leaving the first one vertical (as in figure 5-b).

NOTE: Coming down is the same as going up but in reverse. See figures 6-b through 1-b in the series below. You should still make a straight line from your fingertips to your toes while coming down.

Step 9: Coming Down

(On the way down) Pass through the same T position (in figure 3 above) as you did on the way up to the handstand.

Step 10: Landing

When your foot hits the ground as in figure 4-b, begin to lift your hands from the ground, keeping a straight line along your back from your hands to your lifted foot.

Step 11: Finishing

Land one foot at a time in a “lunge” position (see figure 1-b) with your front knee bent, back leg straight, and hands up with your arms against your ears.

Step 12: CONCLUSION

Congratulations! You now have the knowledge necessary to practice and perfect your handstand! You will soon be able to win handstand contests as well as have wonderfully strong arms!

<p>This is something that I always loved to do as a kid. But I could never quite master walking on my hands.</p>

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