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Sam Star’s Tips for Mastering Your Handstand

By on January 8, 2018

Photo by Ray Tamarra. Courtesy of Samantha Star.

Samantha Star makes handstands look as easy as walking on two feet. Just check her Instagram and you’ll see the pole superstar swimming to the edge of a steaming pool in the Austrian Alps and effortlessly pressing herself up and straight into a handstand from which she lowers her extended legs in feat that seems to defy gravity. All the while snow falls around her. #goals

Unfortunately handstands aren’t as easy as Samantha makes them look, which is one reason her workshops across the globe and classes at Body & Pole in NYC sell out. Fortunately, this Bad Kitty Ambassador has a few tips that can help you get your feet off the ground and master your handstand. 

If what you’ve been doing isn’t working, change it. 

Samantha says the biggest mistake she sees as an instructor is people trying to do the same thing over and over again. “You really have to pay attention to what you’re doing and what works and doesn’t work and change the details a little bit each time to get a different outcome.”

Pay attention to your hands.

“Most people’s hands are too wide and they’re not using them enough.”

Film yourself. 

Watching videos of yourself is a great way to see what you’re actually doing versus what you think you’re doing, Samantha says. It shows you where you need to make adjustments, and it can be super helpful if you’re practicing on your own.

Try different entrances.

There’s so many different ways to get in a handstand. Instead of trying to kick up the same way every time, try to find balance first. “A lot of the times it’s not going to be a straight pencil handstand, it’s going to be more of a split or a different shape that is more asthetically pleasing,” Samantha says. “Being able to find balance is the first goal and then cleaning up your form after that.”

Photo by Ray Tamarra. Courtesy of Samantha Star.

 

Learn to fall.

One of the biggest things holding people back from getting their handstands is the fear of falling. You can combat that fear by practicing cartwheels, which can help teach you how to fall safely, Samantha says. “If you learn how to control your falls by cartwheeling, then you’re more likely to be able to go to that end range of motion and feel comfortable.”

Use the wall as a tool, not a crutch. 

“I really think that people should be in the middle of the room trying things, but then also using the wall as a tool,” Samantha says. The wall can be helpful, but it’s important not to get in headspace that you can’t get off it. “It’s important to be able to do both.”

Think of it the same way as kids learning to walk

“At first, you’re not strong enough to support your weight for long amounts of time. You fall over and you get back up and you think about what happened,” Samantha says. “As you build strength, you start to build awareness and start to build that brain-body connection of how to control things a little bit more. Then start to hone in on polishing it.”

Practice—consistently.

Doing a little bit everyday is better than trying it once a week. Build it into your practice. If you’re going to a studio, warm up and then try a few handstands. And speaking of studios, Samantha says classes can help you learn adjustments you need to make. “It’s always good to get a little bit of information and then practice it and then get a little more information and then practice it.”

 

Cross-train. 

“A lot of people have weak or unstable wrists because we’re not putting enough weight on them,” Samantha says. She recommends wrist strengthening exercises such as doing planks and moving yourself forward and back, or doing wrist circles forward and backward.

Stay flexible.

You don’t need flexibility to be able to do a handstand, but like everything with pole, they’re easier if you have more flexibility.

Do you have any tips for practicing handstands? Share in the comments below!

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