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Balance training for performance improvements: how much and how often?


OBJECTIVE

Balance is key to all functional movements, where posture, joint stability, neuromuscular efficiency, and symmetry are all supported by an athlete’s ability to sustain the balance of these systems. In young and old adults, the benefits of balance in sport and everyday life are well understood. With regards to young athletes, however, there are few systematic studies that exist to report the dose-response and training requirements when looking to develop balance. This study aims to support current coaches in delivering balance training that is effective and developmental.



WHAT THEY DID

The authors of this study conducted a thorough literature search, focussing on studies that investigated balance, neuromuscular training, proprioception, and both static and dynamic balance in a youth sample. All studies were carefully selected, consisting of children with a mean age of 6-19 years old. Other factors such as gender, training age, and training setting were also considered. The literature searches identified 198 potentially relevant studies and were coded according to various physical and physiological measures.



WHAT THEY FOUND

This study found that balance training, irrespective of age, gender, and training method was an effective method when looking to improve both static and dynamic balance. With respect to training duration, this study found that 12- weeks of training provided the largest effect size for improvements. In terms of frequency, two sessions a week lasting roughly 4-15 minutes were beneficial, with the largest effects experienced in adolescents. Furthermore, additional findings of this study suggested that balance training sessions that are tailored to the individual age brackets (6-7, 11-12, and 14-15) were much more effective than those that did not consider chronological age and ability. Lastly, all forms of balance training proved effective.



Practical Takeaways

Balance training may prove to be an “easy win” for practitioners as it can be incorporated into resistance sessions, warm-ups, or even rest periods. Furthermore, with a small amount of time (twice a week for 4-15 minutes), coaches should consider how improved balance may contribute to other athletic qualities such as posture, strength production, and improved speed. A thorough breakdown of the monitoring strategies, programming, and set/rep schemes can be seen in the attached article, making this easy to implement almost instantly. I would also like to remind you of the need to make balance training appropriate for the athlete’s age, which is why a fun game has been attached in the video for younger children. I would recommend you take a look through the channel as many developmental and enjoyable games have been included.

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