Feb 9, 2018Improving Balance
In order for athletes to prevent injuries, they need balance and stability. Here are five stability and balance exercises that are worth incorporating into a training program, as detailed on Active.com and Stack.com.
1. One-Legged Squat
Athletes should start by standing with their feet hip-width apart. Then they will point their left foot out in front with it barely touching the floor. Have them push their hips back and down into a one-legged squat position. The right knee should be bent but should not push in front of the toes. Also, the chest should be upright, eyes forward, and arms out in front. This is a simple but challenging exercise and the athletes will definitely feel it.
2. Leg Swings
Start by having athletes stand on one leg and then raising their other leg three to six inches from the ground. They should then swing their raised leg backward and forward while holding their arms out at their sides. Their torso should remain erect and they should try to complete the exercise without having to touch their foot down for balance. Switch legs and repeat. This exercise may seem easy, but is a great way to build stability in the legs and hips.
3. Single-Leg Dead Lift
If the athletes start by balancing on their left foot, have them hold a dumbbell in their right hand. For beginners, the weight should be light, such as five to 10 pounds. As they balance, they should engage the abs and bend forward at the hips while reaching towards the ground with the weight in their hand. Their right leg should be raised behind for counterbalance and they should tighten their buttocks as they return to the starting position. Make sure they keep their knee relaxed and back flat throughout exercise. Switch legs and continue for the desired amount of reps.
4. One-Legged Clock With Arms
This exercise also starts by balancing on one leg, but this time with torso straight, head up, and hands on the hips. Athletes should visualize a clock and point their arm straight overhead to 12, then to the side (three), and then circle low and around to nine without losing their balance. You can make this more challenging by calling out different times.
Switch to the opposite leg and arm and repeat.
5. Leg-Elevated Bulgarian Split Squat
This is a variation of the lunge, which is a great exercise for improving balance. By elevating their leg, athletes increase the difficulty and are forced to use more stabilizer muscles, increasing balance and quadriceps strength. Start by placing a bench or plyometric box behind the athlete about knee-high. Then use dumbbells, barbells, a weighted vest, or a curl bar to add weight. Have them lift up one leg and place it on the box or bench behind them. They will then perform a standard split squat, tightening their core and keeping their back, knee, and toes straight. Do three sets of 10 reps on each leg.