Some of the common issues I see in handstands are a short lunge, head out and improper balance.
A tip I got from Debbie Love was to walk heel to toe 4 steps and that should be the distance of step into the lunge. Elbows behind ears with an invisible straight line from finger tips to pinky toe. This lunge will provide the proper angle for athlete to stretch to the floor for their handstand.
Neutral head position is often tough for athletes starting handstands as they often feel as they will fall over if they don’t poke their head out. I prefer the athlete watch their fingertips touch the floor then look back the direction they came. This will allow for a neutral head position.
Balancing a handstand to hold for 3 seconds is often much more difficult than it may seem. Kicking legs and arching the lower back is the most common ways I’ve seen athletes try to balance and hold a handstand. I have my athletes clap their hands palm to palm and squeeze their fingertips so that their palms stay touching but there is a slight lift in the finger while the palm and tips stay touching. This allows the athlete to engage the muscles throughout their arms into the core. Pointing toes and engaging glutes, quads and hamstrings is crucial to holding a proper handstand.
The handstand is such an important skill for shaping as well as strength and when done properly helps all aspects of the athletes tumbling.
Having trouble with a standing tuck?
As a coach when I have an athlete having issues with a standing, I look at their physical conditioning. If an athlete can perform a standing tuck with precise technique on apparatuses such as tumble trak or air track, but are having issues on the floor, they have an athletic deficiency in some aspect.
To perform a standing tuck properly, requires an athlete to have many different types of strength and muscular reactions so you want to make sure you train them properly. Explosive hamstrings and glute muscles are absolutely crucial to propelling the athlete off the mat quickly and powerfully, along with creating the “hip lift” movement. Exercises such as box jumps, depth jumps , and broad jumps are some explosive movement exercises that help tremendously.
Moving along the upper body, a strong core to maintain the hollow body position, plank holds, plank ups, and ab roll outs are some things I use to help strengthen the abdominals and the intercostals (rib muscles). In outs with paper plates, and hanging leg raises to activate and isolate the knee drive, which help train the hip flexor which pull the legs up into a tucked position. Finishing off with fast arms, which require fast and flexible shoulders. Front raises and lateral raises with ankle weights around wrists for strength, along with resistance band work goes a long way.
The other part I like to reinforce is the stick. Single leg box jump landing on one leg, keeping it small about 8-12 high. Allowing the calves and ankles isolated training create a strong stable base for landings. Jump squats and lunges are daily to keep the absorbing motion strong and stable.