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  • Writer's pictureSheryl Lyx

Upside Down Playground #1: Shoulder Positioning in Tuck Handstand/ Bunny Hop

Tuck Handstand Set Up
Two Possible Shoulder Positions when Initiating a Tuck Handstand

Where should your shoulders be before kicking up into your handstands/ forearm stands - above your wrists or behind your wrists?

A common cue that is shared in yoga classes calls for shoulders to be positioned slightly behind the wrists before initiating any kick-ups or bunny hops, whereas in most other hand-balancing classes, coaches often call for shoulders to be stacked above the wrist before initiating the handstand.

I tried both cues and this is what I found (in my body).

The Experiment

I wanted to test which cue could help me get into a tuck handstand more accurately. More specifically, out of 3 hops, how many attempts do I need before catching my tuck handstand in midair? A catch refers to a 3-second hold in the air.

I tested 3 sets of 3 hops with "Shoulders behind Wrists" vs. "Shoulders above Wrists".

Set 1

Shoulders behind Wrists

  • I was unable to catch my tuck handstands on all 3 attempts. The momentum introduced with this shoulder position when hopping forward made me feel less stable in my entry.

  • Attempt 1 & 2: I found it difficult to stack my hips above my shoulders.

  • Attempt 3: I noticed my shoulder falling forward in this attempt, making it even more difficult to stack my hip above my shoulder. I'm guessing that as the shoulder gets tired, it gets a little more difficult to stop the forward momentum in the shoulders.

Shoulders Above Wrists

  • I caught my tuck handstand on the second attempt.

  • Attempt 1: I was really close to catching the tuck handstand. The hips were very close to stacking above the shoulders. Perhaps if I had hopped a little harder, I would have caught it.

  • Attempt 2: Caught the tuck handstand and could comfortably hold it for 5 seconds.

Set 2

Shoulders behind Wrists

  • I made a slight adjustment in this set by positioning my shoulders less far behind my wrists, hoping that it would give me a little more control when initiating the kickup. The entries in this set were more controlled, however, I still found it difficult to catch my balance.

  • Attempt 1: Hips still not stacked above the shoulder.

  • Attempt 2 and 3: Hips were stacked above the shoulder, but I found it difficult to catch the tuck handstand. I felt like I had to kick harder than I normally would to send the hips over the shoulder, but because of that, I found it more difficult to control my core and legs in both attempts.

Shoulder Above Wrists

  • I caught my tuck handstand on the first attempt and held that for 15 seconds.

  • Attempt 1: Caught the tuck handstand. I felt very stable and controlled going in and coming out of that.

Set 3

Shoulders behind Wrists

  • Finally caught my tuck handstand on my third attempt on this set, also the 9th tuck handstand (in the whole experiment).

  • Attempt 1: I could not stack my hips above my shoulders.

  • Attempt 2: I managed to stack my hips above my shoulders, yet lacked control in the legs, which eventually led me to come down again.

  • Attempt 3: Finally caught the tuck handstand. But I did not feel the ground resistance as much. It felt a little more like I was counterbalancing instead of pushing.

Shoulders Above Wrists

  • Caught my tuck handstand on the second attempt.

  • Attempt 1: Got into the correct shoulder and hip position but lost control of my legs.

  • Attempt 2: Caught the tuck handstand.


Having the shoulders stacked above the wrists when setting up for a tuck handstand/ bunny hop helped me to enter the handstand more accurately. I also generally felt better control throughout the whole entry movement and a better sense of 'catch' when my body was in position.

I felt that setting up with the shoulder behind the wrists introduced too many moving parts in the entry - having to shift BOTH the shoulders and hips forward into position and then lock it in at the right moment. It does not work for my body type, i.e.: heavy hips, flexible and smaller shoulders. However, this might work for someone with strong tight shoulders and smaller hips and legs.



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