Friday, January 25, 2008

Dynamic Balance and Proprioception

In my opinion, athletic balance (dynamic balance) and rate-of-force production (power) are the two greatest physical predictors of athletic success.

The best running backs, tennis players, basketball players, shortstops, etc. all have great dynamic balance. Having great dynamic balance means that the athlete is able to maintain her or his center of gravity over a constantly changing base of support.

Thus, quickness and agility drills help the athlete to improve dynamic balance while not wasting motion. As with all training, balance can be improved by creating challenging training environments.

Kinesthetic awareness, or the ability to know where your body parts are in 3-dimensional space, is required for all movement. This is especially true for athletes.

Athletes can be trained to improve proprioception (joint and limb position sense) without using all of the fancy gadgets on the market today. Better proprioception brings about better balance and reduced risk of injuries for the athlete. Balance training also improves the athlete’s core strength. Balance exercises should closely mimic those actions required by the athlete’s sport.

Good balance exercises are one-legged exercises, exercises performed on different surfaces, exercises performed with eyes closed and a host of sports agility drills.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Sports Fitness Hut

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