You know how handstands sometimes work, then other times they work a bit less and when someone watches you can’t handstand at all praying to get that one lucky attempt to show to your crush?! Some days you show up for training, do your warm up and then just kind of hope for the best?! You tell yourself: oh if I get lucky today I am going to hold a handstand for 10 sec.
While I do believe in the possibility of fortunate coincidences coming together and producing a more favorable outcome than anticipated I believe it is very important to make a clear division between luck and focus.
In sports where you compete against other athletes for example I would consider it lucky if the other contestant trips and you therefore run the fastest time or if the star player of the opposing football team catches the flu and misses the match.
In handstands or any acrobatic movement on the other hand there are no external forces and no opposing players. It is you against you. Success and failure is determined by you alone. Success and failure is controlled by your capability to analyze why things work on some days compared to others and your capability to guide your mind to focus on the one thing that matters in the precise moment.
In rehearsals for shows and training I used to always say: “If something works one time it can work every time”. I am holding on to this statement until today. You are producing the handstand with your own mind, body and muscles. You just have to figure out exactly how.
Here details really matter now. Analyze to the finest feature what you did differently in the attempt that works compared to the ones that don’t. Let’s take the example of a simple tuck jump to handstand. Where are you looking in your starting position? How and where is your weight distributed on the floor? Are your feet flexed or pointed? Are you inhaling and then holding your breath when jumping up? At which moment are you switching from the legs pushing off the floor to the knees pulling towards the chest?
Those are just a few of the things that you can and should be focusing on. The more detailed you can get and the more precisely you can reproduce this exact pattern the more likely it will become that you will nail the tuck jump in every single attempt.
While correct technical cues are obviously vital, what is happening inside of your head is key as well. Your focus and mental approach to movements might be even more important than just to follow the correct order of muscle impulses. Pay attention to where your mind is during your workouts. What exactly are you thinking during this tuck mount? When is your focus shifting from pushing with the legs to standing on the hands? How do you judge how much you have to push with the legs and how do you know how far you have to jump with the hips? Analyze these thoughts and pay close attention. Make a list in your mind and then reproduce in every attempt. Not only will you be sure to do the same thing every time but also you will diminish the chances of getting distracted or even nervous because your mind is busy otherwise.
Now, we have discussed how we can train and focus to make every attempt work and to stick every single handstand. What we did not discuss is the beautiful by-product that comes from nailing every move. At some point your mind starts to accept that things can not go wrong. This takes a lot of time and is mentaly very hard as you really have to do every single attempt 100%. Then eventually all the self doubt goes away and you can not even imagine that a move could possibly go wrong. When you reach this point of your practice you will truly believe that there is no such thing as luck and that everything truly lies in your hands.
Now this formula is not a 100% copy and paste and the benefits from it heavily depend on your own personal situation. Taking my handstand act for example. I get ridiculously nervous on stage. I mess up a lot. As soon as I can imagine the possibility of the move going wrong it will go wrong. I have to force myself in training to do everything 100%. If I am tired, not just physically but especially mentally and I think I won’t be able to focus fully during training I know that at this point for me it is better not to train at all as I will only make things worse for myself. Luck makes me nervous and when I am nervous I fall on stage.
On straps for example things can be different. Besides all the more traditional strength moves we do lots of dynamic, acrobatic movements on straps. Here when trying new drills you sometimes have to rely on luck to get something for the very first time. There are so many different possible combinations of impulses to give and movements to focus on that sometimes you can not predict precisely what will happen. As soon as you get lucky once the analyzing has to start. What exactly did I do to make this work? How can I reproduce this movement pattern every single time and not just when I have the adrenaline of trying something for the first time rushing through me?
If something works one time it can work every time. Luck is fun and luck can push you to do something new and unexpected but luck does not exist 2 or 3 times. It only exists on that first attempt. After that it is your job to analyze and reproduce. The sooner you understand this the faster you will advance in your own practice.