CrossFit Santa Cruz’s Laurie Galassi, a gymnast and fifth-place finisher at the NorCal Regional, shares her coaching tips for mastering the handstand. In Part 1 of the series, she focuses on body position.
“I picked handstands because they’re the foundation of gymnastics,” Galassi says. “It’s the basis for everything else.”
This gymnastics element fits perfectly into CrossFit.
“The neat thing for CrossFit is that once you can do a handstand suddenly putting weight overhead is easier because you can stand on your feet straight, you can stand on your hands straight, and now it’s like I’m just doing a handstand but there’s a barbell over my head,” she says.
To create the correct body position, Galassi drills her athletes with a stick to show them a stacked body position with shrugged, active shoulders and proper head placement. Next, she stretches the athletes and develops a hollow-body position. After some drills, she talks safety and has her athletes practice forward rolls for a safe exit when falling. Finally, she gets her athletes inverted using a wall walk and shoulder shrugs.
One of the barriers to mastering handstands is fear of falling.
“How do I not get scared?” she asks. Her answer: “Gymnastics is a repetitive sport.”
According to Galassi, most gymnasts start as children so that the movements become ingrained.
“For the first few times, you’re just building your comfort level,” she says.
Additional reading: Why Train Gymnastics Basics? by Jeff Tucker, published Aug. 1, 2008.