How Improving Balance and Agility
can help Your Game
Sport specific Balance and Agility drills can help
improve performance according to research
What is Balance?
Balance is the ability to maintain a vertical line from the center of gravity. In soccer, this may mean the ability to trap a ball and coordinate your body to get ready to perform the next move in the least amount of time. The inner ear, the eyes and your proprioception (ability to know where your body is in space) help you maintain balance.
What is Agility?
Agility is the ability to change the body's position with change of speed and direction when responding to a stimulus. This may mean being able to change direction and speed when reacting to a soccer ball coming your way in order to control it efficiently. This is performed by a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength and endurance that your body achieves through the years of training. This sometime can be referred as neuromuscular training.
In other words, if you include balance training, most likely your agility will be improved, and therefore performance can eventually improve with the right kind of training.
There are many ways of doing neuromuscular training that are both safe and effective. Some research has shown that balance training (using inflatable discs ) by itself did not show any improvements in performance, but adding resistance and other components of agility may be more beneficial.
Specific balance and agility training that has demonstrated an improvement in performance is plyometric training. This type of exercise helps increase eccentric force and has been proven to be safe to use in children with the appropriate consent.
Training that some may be familiar with, SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness) training has proven to be an efficient method of improving performance in different sports when used over a certain amount of time. This training uses the simple methods of neuromuscular adaptations.
How long should the program be?
Recommendations vary according to training programs, but plyometric training is recommended to be done 2-3 times a week, depending on the ability of athletes to sustain the workload. Most programs run from 6 -10 weeks in order to see any results.
Even using a 25-minute neuromuscular warm-up session has shown to improve an athlete's performance when used 1-3 times a week.
- Always warm-up and stretch before and after practice.
- Proper mechanics are the key to increase neuromuscular control.
- Always follow a proper progression of exercises, intensity and endurance.
- If the exercise causes sudden sharp pain, make sure to stop.
- Avoid overtraining by giving the body enough time to rest.