Balance ability is a fundamental aspect for a number of sports that require kicking, running, changes of direction, and jumping. These sports can include football, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, martial arts and many more. In a recent issue of Sports Medicine, researchers examined the relationship between balance ability and athletic performance. A comparison review was conducted to assess the balance ability of athletes at different levels of competition, to determine a connection between balance ability and performance. Researchers found that gymnasts appeared to have the best balance ability measured. This higher level of balance ability was also noted in soccer players, swimmers, and basketball players.
Researchers also found that adding balance work to an existing training program can result in improvements in vertical jump, agility, and shuttle run skills. Balance ability was also correlated with competition rank for sports.
Evidence from these studies supports the argument that athletic training and balance training can increase performance and motor skills. There is also a noted relationship between balance ability and sports injury risk. Many coaches are now utilizing balance and agility training into existing programs to prevent injuries. A number studies have found that inferior balance ability is correlated to an increased risk of ankle injuries. Researchers found that men tend to have more balance related ankle injuries than women in sports, which could be related to balance ability. Research also indicated that balance training can be useful in reducing the recurrence of ankle ligament injuries and anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
Overall, it appears that balance training works best when it is included as part of a comprehensive training program. Many coaches could benefit from an implementation of balance and stability training to improve performance and reduce the risk of sports related injuries. More testing is essential to assess balance and stability training in a variety of settings and sports.