Overcoming fear in handstands
Fear is the most common and strongest barrier that beginners face when starting their handstand journey.
While it widely depends on things such as motivation, attitude, previous experience, or age, for most people doing handstands is something completely outside of their comfort zone. We are not used to be upside down, which feels confusing and disorienting. We probably won’t believe that we can hold our body weight over our heads, which creates insecurity. We have never been exposed to the weightless feeling of the balance point in contrast to the very heavy feeling of being out of balance, which feels sudden and scary when not used to it.
All these things and more represent the unknown... But still, the strategy that most people use to face it is just jumping and hoping for the best.
Gaining knowledge about how handstands work is one of the things that tend to help adults in overcoming this fear. Knowing how the different aspects of the skill are supposed to work helps to focus on the small challenges of the practice one at a time, providing also a kind of navigation process to follow. It is easier to approach a scary thing when you know how it can work versus not having any idea of what you are supposed to do. We feel comfortable when we understand things.
But not knowing how to be safe in the context of the handstand practice is probably the biggest source of fear.
Having a strategy to approach failing in your handstands in a safe way is hugely important for beginners, and will surely affect a lot the amount of time needed to break those mental barriers at the beginning of the handstand journey.
Which takes us to the bailing technique.
Bailing is the emergency exit of a handstand. When things go wrong your body should know what to do to be safe before you even have the time to think about what you should do. Bailing is not a complex movement to do once you feel comfortable moving on your hands, but getting there can be a very tricky and scary path for most beginners.
What I have found as the best strategy to start feeling comfortable moving and having weight on our hands is to use some basic locomotion patters. These patterns can easily be scaled up to more complex movements that have a similar rhythm and cadence to the bailing technique, therefore starting to teach the body what to do on its emergency exit from the handstand.
Once beginners start getting familiar and feel confident with these movements proper bailing practice can be introduced to solidify the handstand exit. These can be done through different variations of exercises based around falling from a handstand on purpose, so the bailing motion can be repeated and reinforced.
Being confident about the ability to bail safely from a handstand is a key component in the handstand practice. Training with fear of what could happen if you lose your balance or go too far in your entrances will drastically reduce the amount of success in all your attempts while reinforcing some bad habits, therefore affecting negatively your handstand development.
Let me know down in the comments what are your thoughts on this topic!