Balance training is a key area of practice for the athlete, when we think of balance we usually perceive of standing on 1 leg, although this can be used as a test for balance, in sport we are looking to perform many different actions under dynamic control such as running, jumping and agility moves, for example trying to turn to lose a player in soccer, landing after jumping to receive a netball, reaching for a shot in badminton, or running over uneven ground. Of course in these situations dynamic balance to some extent only forms part of the overall picture as we do need to develop other skills such as strength, power, flexibility and the ability to control force production and reduction or deceleration.
We now see both kids and adults who have difficulty with running, twisting and turning, controlling a landing from a jump, or coordinating movements. Playing a sport on top of these weakened abilities, will reduce performance and possibly go to some way to causing injury.
Balance is a dynamic process where our aim is to control the centre of gravity over our base of support. Balance can be affected at all levels of difficulty and abilities, in sport we look for stability of movement where stability is a measure of the level at which one can retain their own balance while adjusting to factors that disturb balance. The components of balance that need to be trained and integrated include stability, kinaesthetic awareness, proprioception, focus, concentration and the ability to shift balance in a controlled manor.
Developing the skill of balancing and therefore moving better for your sport is best done with feet on the floor at first rather than using an unstable surface such as a wobble or balance board which may help some sports better than others where they are often used for surfers and in rehabilitation for ankle sprains. Exercises and drills such as lunges, improving mobility for hips, dynamic movement skills, cone drills can help increase balance ability in your sport.