Friday, September 28, 2007

Dynamic Balance For Sports

Dynamic balance is one of the greatest physical predictors of athletic success (athletic power would be the other). Static balance, which can be maintained with minimal movement, should be distinguished from dynamic balance.

Your ability to maintain a center of gravity over a constantly changing base of support is critical to success and is the essence of dynamic balance. Postural strength and control is also necessary to achieve dynamic balance.

You should participate in exercises that progressively challenge her or his dynamic balance and postural control. Exercises that require use of different surfaces (firm to unstable) will work to accomplish this. One-armed and one-legged exercises also work well. Experts don't always agree on the specific balance exercises to be performed, but research proves that changes in both sensory and motor systems influence balance performance.

Balance exercises should be specific to the sport in which the athlete competes to increase the chances of success and minimize the risk of injury. For example, football and soccer players often compete with cleated shoes on grass surfaces or with flat shoes on artificial surfaces.

Gymnasts must perform with moves that incorporate tumbling and leaping. Those same gymnasts must also perform many moves demonstrating high levels of static balance. A balance training program should incorporate dynamic and static exercises where appropriate. The athlete's sport movements should also be trained as much as possible.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Sports Fitness Hut

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