How to Do Handstand Pirouettes

by Cari Oleskewicz, Demand Media
    A handstand pirouette can be done with legs together or in some artistic variation.

    A handstand pirouette can be done with legs together or in some artistic variation.

    Handstand pirouettes are done by gymnasts on the floor and also on other gymnastics equipment including the bars, balance beam and pommel horse. The gymnast starts in a handstand position and then moves his or her hands in a circle to complete turns, or pirouettes. Upper-body strength, balance and endurance are required to successfully complete handstand pirouettes. If you are a beginner, make sure you have a spotter to help you during any new skill so you do not injure yourself. Before you try pirouettes, be sure to perfect your handstand first. And get comfortable with your pirouettes on the floor before you try them on other equipment.

    Items you will need

    • Mat
    • Spotter

    Hold a Handstand

    Step 1

    Learn how to hold a perfect handstand. Before you can pirouette, you must be able to hold a handstand with your back straight for at least several seconds.

    Step 2

    Raise your arms over your head and step forward with one foot, placing your hands on the floor and kicking your legs into the air. Keep your body still. If you have to walk on your hands to maintain the handstand, pirouetting will be difficult.

    Step 3

    Practice holding a handstand against a wall. This will help you shift your body weight appropriately and achieve the form and balance necessary.

    Step 4

    Ask a spotter to hold your legs while you practice your handstand. Once you have found your balance, your spotter can let go and you can hold the handstand on your own.

    Doing the Pirouette

    Step 1

    Draw an "X" on the floor in chalk. This will help you figure out your hand placement while practicing your handstand pirouettes. The "X" will lead your hands in a circle while you hold a handstand.

    Step 2

    Try to complete a half circle. While you are in a handstand position, move one hand to a corner of the X you have drawn. The other hand should be placed on the opposing side of the X.

    Step 3

    Visualize a clock if the X is not working. Start your handstand with your hands at the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions. Move your left hand to the 12 o'clock position and your right hand to the 6 o'clock position.

    Step 4

    Continue your pirouette around the X or around the clock until you complete a 360 degree turn. Keep your eyes on the floor or on your hands to maintain balance. Try doing two or three complete turns after you are successful in making one turn.

    Step 5

    Keep your body tight. Pull in your stomach and squeeze your leg and shoulder muscles. This will help you control the pirouette movement.

    Step 6

    Experiment with different leg positions once you get comfortable completing a pirouette. Some gymnasts straddle their legs while they pirouette, others do splits with their legs and some bend one or both knees.

    Step 7

    Rest while you are learning and practicing handstand pirouettes. You can get dizzy and disoriented from being upside down and going in circles if you do not take your time.

    Handstand Pirouettes on Equipment

    Step 1

    Choose an apparatus. Male gymnasts do handstand pirouettes on the pommel horse, parallel bars and horizontal bar. Female gymnasts pirouette on the balance beam and uneven parallel pars.

    Step 2

    Start in a handstand position. On the bars, you might cast to the handstand. On the beam or the pommel horse, you might use a strength move such as a press to a handstand.

    Step 3

    Grab the apparatus while turning your body in a pirouette. On the bars, you will let go of the bar with one hand, turn a half or full circle and grab the bar again. On the beam or horse, you will take your hand off the equipment to pirouette and grab it again.

    About the Author

    Cari Oleskewicz is a writer and blogger who has contributed to online and print publications including "The Washington Post," "Italian Cooking and Living," "Sasee Magazine" and Pork and Gin. She is based in Tampa, Florida and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and journalism from Marist College.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images