A handstand is the act of supporting the body in a stable, inverted vertical position by balancing on the hands. In a basic handstand the body is held straight with arms and legs fully extended, with hands spaced approximately shoulder-width apart. There are many variations of handstands, but in all cases a handstand performer must possess adequate balance and upper body strength.

Handstands are performed in many athletic activities, including acro dance, acrobatics, cheerleading and gymnastics. Some variation of handstand is performed on every gymnastic apparatus, and many tumbling skills pass through a handstand position during their execution. Breakdancers incorporate handstands in freezes and kicks. Armstand dives—a category found in competitive platform diving—are dives that begin with a handstand. In games or contests, swimmers will sometimes execute underwater handstands on pool bottoms with legs and feet extended above the water.

Handstands are known by various other names. In yoga, the handstand is known as Adho Mukha Vrksasana (downward-facing tree pose), and in capoeira it is named bananeira.


here are two basic handstand styles in modern gymnastics: curved-back and straight-back. Straight-back style is employed when the aesthetics of straight body lines are desired and feasible. In many cases (e.g., when a handstand is being performed in conjunction with a gymastic apparatus), however, the curved-back style is preferred as it offers superior control over balance. In all cases, balance is maintained by shifting body weight towards the fingers or the heel of the hand.

All basic handstands have these characteristics:

In addition, straight-back handstands have these characteristics:


Common handstand variations include:

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