Different disciplines and coaches seem to have rather rigid instructions around the minutiae of handstand form, especially regarding the hands. Here at Handstand Factory, we like to take a varied, individualistic approach. Long story short, it’s as Mikael said: “Find a hand position that you like where you can apply pressure on the floor with nicely. Don’t ever think about it again.” But if you’re inclined to read into the nuance behind this statement, we’ve outlined the differences in hand positioning and why practitioners end up preferring particular orientations.
Hand Position Options
We don’t believe in one particular form of hand positioning for handbalancing. Our models in the Handstand Factory programs for example cover all those hand positions – Seve usually balances with completely flat hands. Meanwhile Isaac, Elise and Josh use different styles of tenting, or spider fingers. Morgan on the other hand, has developed a pyramid (or cupping) style grip on the floor. While there is likely unique, underlying biomechanical reasons that each of our models have a different style, we can make some generalizations about what makes these three major hand positions useful. Like with hand width, we encourage you to play with all of them to discover which suits your style best.
Having your hands flat gives you a wide surface area, which affords you an opportunity to very deliberately control your weight distribution to find and catch your balance. Many who grip the ground with flat hands also spread their fingers far apart, which can give you some more lateral control. This is the hand position many start their hand balancing journey with, as the cue is rather simple. However, without intent of where you bear weight, merely spreading your hands flatter will not help your balance. We outline where you should bear your weight in our Push program theory section. So if you’re struggling with this hand position, focus on where your weight is distributed within your hands, which might address your frustrations.
Tenting is the other common hand position in handbalancing. Also known as cambered hands, or colloquially as spider-fingers, your digits are crimped while the whole of your palm makes contact with the ground. Ultimately the thing that will keep you balanced, regardless of hand orientation, is applying pressure into the floor. Many people find tenting gives them additional leverage to create this pressure in their fingertips. So if you struggle in pushing back against overbalance in particular in a flat hands position, see if switching to tenting gives you the ‘oomph’ you need to save your hold.
A bit less common than the above options, this cupping-style grip Emmet first came across in Berlin from Sergey Timofeev. If you check his Instagram, you’ll notice that he’s created an arch in his hands where he basically does not have his first knuckles touching the ground. In heavier shapes he’ll even tuck his thumb under to create a ‘mini-block’ in his palm. After witnessing this variant, Emmet found it to be a winning grip among his students who had greater than 110-120º extension in the wrist.