Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning

By

YOUTH SPORTS

Developing Balance in Young Athletes

By Jose Salas, CSCS, Philadelphia Phillies

In an attempt to better serve the coaches, players and parents involved in youth and high school baseball, the PBSCCS periodically publishes information on issues, topics, exercises, drills and programs that can affect conditioning and performance at these levels. Topics are selected from questions submitted by participants, coaches and parents in youth and high school sports. PBSCCS contacted Jose Salas, minor league strength and conditioning coach for the Phillies, for recommendations.

The question for this posting was from the coach of a Tee-ball baseball team – “I am the father and coach of a 6-year-old who plays Tee- ball. As we go through the basic drills of catching, throwing and swinging, many of the boys lose their balance and fall down. Are there any drills that they can perform at practice and at home to help improve balance?”

Balance is one of the essential foundations of athletic performance. It’s something that many take for granted. It’s also something that can be improved with training to enhance performance and help reduce the risk of injury. Balance is defined as “the ability of an individual to keep his/her center gravity over (within) his/her base of support.”

Balance can be either static, such as, standing like a stork on one leg or maintaining an athletic position while waiting for the next play or dynamic like staying back on a breaking ball, fielding a backhand, rounding the bag without falling over, going through the pitching motion, etc. Both types of balance are important, and both can be improved with targeted exercises.

Balance training can help anyone at any age, but research indicates that the most sensitive periods to train balance are around 10-11 years of age for boys and 9-10 for girls. Data also suggest that balance reaches maturity around the ages of 12-14 in most children so, for best, results, train early and often to ensure that children develop a good all-around balance skill set. Children who lead active lives tend to develop a good sense of balance by playing at the playground, learning to ride a bike, roller skate, swim, ski, ice skate and playing games in which, they have to start, stop and change directions under control like red-light / green-light, Simon says, drop the handkerchief, etc.

Parents and coaches who want to introduce balance drills for their children and athletes should start with static balance activities to enhance static balance and proprioception while standing still and gradually introduce different dynamic balance drills. The progressions should always be from simple to complex, easy to hard and slow to fast, with a gradual increase in reps from different postures and in different planes of motion as balance improves.

SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Static drills: You might start with 3 static drills and progress from stable base with eyes open to stable base with eyes closed to unstable base (airex pad or wobble board) with eyes open.

  2. Dynamic drills: You might start with 3 dynamic drills in the sagittal plane and then do these movements in the frontal and transverse plane.

  3. Include starting sets, reps and frequency of training progressing to….

  4. Perform all with body weight, not external resistance. Adding resistance to dysfunction does not correct the dysfunction, it usually makes it worst.

Static Drills and Dynamic Drills – see the following links

https://www.collegesportsscholarships.com/balance-training-athletes.htm

https://www.verywellfit.com/exercises-for-better-balance-3498203

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvrJjEGUR68

https://www.healthline.com/health/exercises-for-balance#exercises-for-kids

___

Jose Salas, CSCS, is a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Philadelphia Phillies.

About the Author

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.