Learning to handstand is like learning to walk..
One of the most significant skill achievements you’ve ticked off, was very early on in life. And you probably don’t even remember it.
You didn’t have an action plan or time frame, you didn’t google it or follow a youtube tutorial.
You had evolutionary motivation that helped you to understand it would be advantageous to move around on two feet. You didn’t understand it consciously and you didn’t need to.
Of course you received a bit of help and encouragement from your carers, but it was largely up to you.
You tried and failed all day long for weeks and months until you mastered it.
The interesting thing is that as a child, you took this experience and kept applying it everywhere. You learnt the skill (walking) and you also learnt a lesson about how to learn.
Repetition and non-stop failure and re-adjustment is the key to success and as a youngster and in your early days you didn’t judge yourself in the process of learning.
This self-imposed judgement crept in later in life.
One of the reasons is socialisation. You started doing things in teams, at school and with peers. You saw what others are doing, how they were doing it and their pace of learning.
You started building the habit of comparison.
There is an array of benefits that come from comparison of course. It helps you to learn from other people’s mistakes so you don’t need to make them all yourself.
However, once you start to protect your ego and your identity from failure, you will take less opportunities and ultimately slow yourself down.
What “failure” looks like in the gymnastics context
Learning a handstand
1st- 20th rep- wall climb, you are basically lying on the wall with full body weight. There is lots of confusion. You are just happy you made it back down alive.
21st- 40th rep- you start to take the body off the wall and nail a rep where just your hands and feet are making contact with the wall. Dismount is a bit rough though, it’s more like a fall and less like a dismount.
40th- 60th rep- you apply a cue for the first time and feel the “push” in the shoulders that the coach has been talking about.
60th- 80th rep- you can actually hold for the prescribed time like others in class. You only fall every 5th rep now and it’s a great feeling
80th- 100th- you realise your wrists, elbows and shoulders have started responding really well to the conditioning. Your handstand is resembling a line. You can apply more corrections and are ready for some more complexity.
Here is a challenging wall Handstand variation to try once you are ready. Planche correction example.
When we meet our new recruits for adult gymnastics, more often than not they..
1. Have held themselves back for longer than they should have. Some of them had been wanting to try for 1-2 years before reaching out.
2. Are worried that they will be the least capable in class
3. They want to know lots of cues and information before trying at all
These are not bad things, but we just need to be aware that they are obstacles that can get in the way of our learning.
What we can learn from the way kids approach gymnastics
1. It is only fun for them when they aren’t given the answer
2. They want to try endlessly
3. They usually find a more creative approach or efficient approach that works for them, when they are not told how to do something with very clear steps.
When we meet people who want to learn as adults, they are worlds away from that mindset that they had as a child.
It is our goal to help them re-capture it.