WAG coaches telling me different things about handstands...

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May 4, 2017
When I am holding my handstand, I have one coach coach telling me to look at my hands while balancing.
Another coach is telling me not to look at my hands at all, and I need to look out with my arms stretched out behind my ears. This way seems difficult and I can't last long like this....

Both. The second coach probably saw your head sticking out. I always look at my hands, but keep my ears covered if that makes sense.
You should be able to just see your hands. You don't want to stick your head out and look at them, nor do you want to tuck it in so you can't see them.
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both of these are wrong (the first one is better, though)


While this guy needs work with his form, his head is in a better position - he can see his wrists, but not his fingers. He could still tuck his head in though.
The idea is to leave your head in a natural straight position, like an extension of your spine and neck. It's almost like you're standing upright, but upside down. Try lying on your stomach in a handstand shape to get the idea, then do handstands against the wall to perfect the shape.

In general, you want to be looking at your fingers tips or just beyond, not straight down or through your hands, but not in front of you, either.
If you can, hang on a bar. Whilst hanging, hide your ears and then glance at your hands without moving your head at all.
Doing this has helped some of my gymnasts understand the head position. :)
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There are lots of slight variations of the technique listed above, but essentially what you want to do is look at your center of gravity on the floor. By spotting the area between your hands, you are utilizing your eyes to aid in kinesthetic awareness, which greatly assists balance. This technique of spotting the center of gravity and having a visual marker becomes incredibly useful down the road when doing skills like back handspring step-outs on beam and pirouetting skills on bars where you must have a visual of what you are doing. Also, going a bit further on this concept of spotting with the eyes/using visual markers during skills, it becomes super helpful when doing saltos, double saltos, and adding twisting. This develops air sense and allows the gymnast to know where they are in the air.

Back to handstands, ideally, the chin should be tilted only slightly, just enough that they can clearly see the center of gravity between the hands. As long as their spine is not distorted into an arch, their shape is fine. The head sticking out a lot tends to cause an undesirable arch, a number of bad habits in other skills, and it just doesn't really look as nice. Don't forget though, that there are skills that you should release the head position, such as front layouts, front aerials, sheep jumps, and ring jumps/leaps, so it's not a constant, always-bad technique. It just has to be applied correctly to the right skills.
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