What is important for a sport? Stamina, strength, technique? Well, at first what matters is passion, then will, and then anything else. I believe that anything else should start with balance and stability.
The reason behind that is pretty clear if not obvious. Just like a child learns to walk first by balancing, and then the connection between the feet & the mind is made, and finally the legs begin to gain the strength to carry the weight of the body. But from where did it all start? From balance.
For an athlete, it is important to have static & dynamic balance in check. Without this, you might end up using unnecessary movements to accomplish the sport called as “Inefficient flailing”. Use of unnecessary movement equals more exhaustion which in turn equals to decreased efficiency.
Not only for an athlete but for a person who loves fitness should consider this, as it not only helps you in becoming more efficient in your workouts but also enhances your cognitive ability to avoid injuries.
BALANCE AND SPORTS/LIFE
Balance is the foundation of better health. Some researchers suggest that the better you can balance, the less time you will need to spend increase your strength.
“Balance conditioning is a way to train the body to make better use of the strength you already have,” – Louis Stack (a Canadian National Speed Skiing team member and balance training expert)
He suggests placing more emphasis on learning to move efficiently, with little wasted effort: “When you train someone for stabilisation, proprioception, and balance, by default he or she is at less risk for injury. Good balance reduces [the] need for additional effort.
Improving the sixth sense
“Balance is both a movement skill that enhances technique and a conditioning element that can be improved. Another way to understand balance is, as a function of the nervous system, which is directly influenced by the five senses. A sixth sense — proprioception — in the muscles, bones, hands, feet and connective tissues alerts the body when the balance is threatened. The body’s balance centres — the eyes, ears, and feet — works together to sense the imbalance and help correct posture.”
The benefit is in “remembered” reactions to imbalance created in training situations. Balance awareness becomes an instinctive, automatic skill.
Exercises and drills-
Following are several balance exercises and drills, listed from simplest to most difficult.
Stabilisation and control. These drills will help you to develop upper-body stabilisation and control.
- Ball/wall push-ups.
Stand slightly more than arm’s distance away from a wall; place a ball between you and the wall, and put your hands on the ball slightly wider than shoulder distance. keep a neutral upright posture and move your chest toward the ball, then back to neutral.
In a push-up position on the ground, let someone grasp your feet/ankles and push up to your hands and walk for a short distance while the other person guides your lower body. Try 30-second intervals. For a challenge, go uphill.
- Handstand against a wall.
Practice cartwheels. Then, stand about 10 feet away from the wall, facing it. Take a couple easy bounds toward the wall, place your hands on the ground and allow momentum to whip your feet to the wall. Perform a push-up for a greater challenge.
Single-side stabilisation. you can perform these exercises to stabilise single-side balance and strength and agility.
- Stand and balance on one foot at a time. For a challenge, stand on a couple of folded gym towels.
- Stand on a mini-trampoline and balance on one foot. Have someone toss a ball at you from various directions while you recover your balance.
Dynamic balance and balance recovery. These exercises help you to develop a keener sense of dynamic balance while moving and enhance balance recovery ability. They put the body in unpredictable and sometimes strenuous situations where it must react with quickness and strength. Full body interaction is key.
- Step-ups with cups of water in each hand. Use a stair or 4- to 8-inch platform, and step up with the right foot then the left foot, and step down with the right foot then the left foot, without spilling the water. For a challenge, try it with full cups.
- Single-side agility. Play hopscotch or hop your initials on one leg at a time with eyes open and closed.
- Tug-o-war (trainer and client are active in this drill). Using a rope about 6 to 8 feet long, line up two wobble boards (or any other type of equipment) about 6 to 8 feet apart. Stand on the balance board on one foot, face each other and try to get each other off balance.
- Multi-directional sprinting. Set four comes up to make a square. Run to cone A, B, C or D on someone else’s (trainer’s) cue.
- One-legged turning. Turn in one direction on inline skates.
- Mountain biking. Bike through a grove of trees where you must constantly dodge obstacles and react.