There comes a time when a relationship has to evolve. It just doesn’t serve you anymore. What started out feeling safe has left you timid. What once was considered your rock has now become your crutch. When you start to realize these things, you know you’re ready to move on.
Face it. It’s time to take your handstand away from the wall.
I know a freestanding handstand is scary. Gravity can be a painful seducer when you don’t know how to act around it. But what if you did know? What if you could dangle your handstand just past the tipping point and right before gravity claims you in its painful embrace, you fall in the most graceful manner? That, my friends, is the bail. With this technique, YOU can become the seducer – no longer leaning on walls, no longer afraid to fall.
The Bail comes in many forms. I’ve included three basic methods that are accessible to most people. Experiment with all three and find what works for you.
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
This is my go to bail. It’s simple, safe, and naturally redirects the energy of my fall. If you already have a regular cartwheel in your toolbox, this is highly recommended.
- Determine the direction of your cartwheel. This is typically your dominant side. If you lead with your left hand, your right foot touches down first, and vice versa. Your lead hand is the hand that will stay on the floor. I lead with my left in this video.
- Once you are past your tipping point, straddle open your legs and lift up your non-lead hand. This is my right hand.
- Place your non-lead hand (my right) in front of your lead hand (my left). The fingers of your lead hand should be pointing at your non-lead hand. This mimics the hand placement of a cartwheel. You gaze will also shift towards the space between your hands.
(NOTE: you can experiment with looking at your lead hand during the picking up and putting down of your non-lead hand. The shift in view will initiate the rotation of your torso)
- Keeping the straddle in your legs, gently land with your outside (my right) foot. Complete the movement by pushing off the floor with your hands.
- Ta-da! You have bailed gracefully.
The Walk Back
Difficulty: 3 out of 5
The Walk Back is another simple and effective bail, very useful if you have limited lateral space. I’d recommend having fairly conditioned shoulders (one minute wall holds/walking handstands) before trying this. It’s extremely helpful if you’ve practiced handstand walks.
- Once you are past your tipping point, shift your gaze forward beyond your hands.
- Pick up one hand (which hand is really naturally determined by your body’s reflexes), and set it down about a foot in front of its original placement.
(NOTE: you want to maintain core tension while you walk forward. Lack of tension will keep your lower body propelling forward and force you to take additional steps with your hands)
- This redistribution of your base support changes your alignment. Your hips are now behind your shoulders again and your legs will naturally come back down.
- Keeping your legs straight and scissored, set down your feet one at a time.
- Shazam! You have bailed safely.
Difficulty: 4 out of 5
To be honest, I never use this bail. It scares me. But hey, we wouldn’t be movers if we didn’t challenge ourselves, right? When the roll is done correctly, it’s actually quite a soft and graceful movement. You need good timing, awareness, and body control to pull this off. I’d recommend having a solid front somersault and the strength to do some handstand pushups before attempting this. And please practice on a soft surface.
- Once you are past your tipping point, tuck your chin.
- Start to pike as you gently lower yourself down with your arms. The idea is to create the most compact and round shape as you enter this roll.
- Once the back of your head makes contact with the floor, tuck your knees into your chest. Your chin is still tucked, creating a rounded spine.
- Let your body naturally roll out in this shape.
- Your body should contact the floor in this sequence:
Hands -> Back of head -> Shoulders -> Upper back -> Spine -> Lower back -> Butt
- Sit up and be happy that you didn’t die.
- Swag! You have bailed like a fucking boss.
I hope you have found this article helpful. It was quite a fun one to write and film as there isn’t much existing material on the subject. I know that practicing the bail will help you gain confidence for freestanding handstands. Your inversions just leveled up!
Happy Bailing 🙂