Does balance training for young athletes improve speed and agility?
Research reviewed: The Effect of Balance Exercises on Speed and Agility in Physical Education Lessons (Acar and Eler, Universal Journal of Educational Research; 2019)
This week’s research paper investigated whether balance training and exercises in kids would lead to improvements in speed and agility.
The researchers took 789 students between the ages of 10-12 and randomly divided them into two groups, the control group and experimental group. The experimental group participated in an 8-week balance training program, three times per week in addition to their normal physical education (PE lessons) whereas the control just completed their normal PE lessons.
Further, prior to the starting of the 8-week interval, each student’s height, body weight, body fat ratio measurements were taken and completed specific balance and agility tests.
The results and key takeaways
After the 8-week program concluded, the two groups were retested and those in the experimental group (PE + balance training) were found to have significant improvements in their speed and agility whereas the control group (only PE) had no changes.
Therefore, the key takeaway from this study is that there’s reason to believe that methodical balance training will improve young kids’ speed and agility, in addition to their outright balance.
The reasons aren’t completely known but considering balance (which is mainly comprised of three major systems - vestibular, ocular, proprioceptive) is the body’s GPS system, it makes theoretical sense that improving the brain and body’s awareness of itself in space creates greater movement efficiency and thus performance.