Golfers are always looking for ways to improve their swing. Kevin Ralbovsky says he found one in doing handstands.
“There are a lot of similarities between golf and doing handstands,” he said. “For both, you really need to find your center.”
The professional golfer and PGA-certified golf instructor said he was first drawn to doing handstands after he started yoga classes to improve his flexibility and gain strength in preparation for a PGA golf tournament.
“Yoga has helped me to learn to breathe properly and it helps with the pressure,” he said.
Handstands require balance and concentration, and it took a full year of daily practice for Ralbovsky to perfect the pose.
“It’s quite challenging on the wrists. It takes a lot of effort to maintain the position,” he said.
Ralbovsky sometimes works with handstand canes, commonly used by circus acrobats. The apparatus consists of blocks attached to a base by various lengths of tubing or pipes. Being able to drape your fingers over the blocks while performing a handstand can make it easier to find balance and reduces stress on the wrists because the hands aren’t being pressed into the floor.
Handstands are more about body awareness and balance than strength, Ralbovsky said. “It’s strangely exhilarating. There’s something about being upside down. It creates a sense of euphoria,” he said.
Ralbovsky began golfing at the age of 16 but didn’t take it seriously as a sport until he turned 19 and started working at Waialae Country Club. Originally from upstate New York, he went to Hawaii to attend college.
“I played the course and was exposed to good players,” he said.
He taught golf lessons at the country club before opening up his own school, KMR School of Golf, in 2003 at the Ko‘olau Golf Club. Ralbovsky, who has worked with some of Hawaii’s top junior golfers, teaches both adults and student athletes seeking to play in college. He also teaches a handstand class at the Still & Moving Center in Kakaako on Sundays.
Ralbovsky incorporates handstands into his lessons for junior golfers, along with running and strength training.
Beginners first perform handstands against a wall or with Ralbovsky’s support. To get in position, he teaches them to kick up from the ground and keep their legs apart for easier balance. More advanced practitioners can “press up” into a handstand using only their core muscles to elevate their legs.
“You do a forward fold and stretch a bit, bring the nose to the knees and hold. When you lean forward, the feet levitate,” he said. “You just need to find the balance.”
He added: “It’s a great leap of faith. But once you get over the fear, it’s easier.”