Coaches Corner


October 12, 2018
Yuri Salnikov


Some people may look at my handstands and think they came naturally to me, but it isn’t so. To this day my handstand journey is ever evolving and I still struggle with being able to hold a solid handstand.

Two years ago I set a goal to improve my handstand so  I committed to a specialty gymnastics program designed to get me there. I followed this program 5 times a week for 6 weeks. Now remember this was a program specifically designed for handstands and while doing this program I did 0 handstands. The reason why was because I had to go back to basics – I had a lot of remedial work to do if I wanted any chance at mastery. Like most people, I wanted the “shortcut” to do the handstands sooner. But taking shortcuts would have hindered me in the future.

The scaling was extremely challenging and it showed me critical flaws in my mobility and strength.  I did wrist stretches and strengthening exercises, worked on my thoracic mobility and of course my core strength (hollow and arch holds).  When I did get inverted, it was to do freestanding headstands to help me learn body position, balance, and core strength.   All that accessory work took time but it was a necessary investment in order  to reach my goals.

There were lessons to be learned from the program that can be applied to other aspects of training:

  • Everyone can benefit from mastering the basics
  • Understanding my body made handstands much more enjoyable.
  • Addressing and fixing weaknesses was worth it – now I can practice handstands more frequently and pain free
  • Shortcuts don’t work
  • Value the process versus looking to the end goal
  • Celebrating small victories and progress made it easier to stick to the program.
  • To prioritize handstands meant putting weightlifting on the back burner.  You simply can’t improve everything all at once. It was a tough choice but a small, temporary sacrifice to get closer to my goal.  


Believe it or not, I still occasionally have a bad handstand day and can not hold it for more than a second.    But now I know what to work on to get it back and each time I learn new things along the way.

The end result is that the journey of getting those handstands has become just as rewarding as actually getting one.