10 Balance Exercises That Will Make Every Athlete Better

STACK Expert Andrew Meyers offers balance exercises and balance drills proven to improve an athlete's strength and stability.

Balance and stability are key drivers of athletic performance. They increase your center of gravity, allowing you to produce greater force and strength and make more precise movements. Without them, you cannot expect to perform at an optimal level or make gains in your sport.

Here are 10 balance and stability exercises to add to your workouts.

RELATED: Balance Exercises That Are Game-Changers

1. Weighted BOSU Ball Squats

Squats are great for strengthening the glutes, quadriceps and core. Adding weight and performing them on a BOSU ball will increase your strength, balance and stabilization in those areas even more. This will transition to the field, making you more efficient.

How to Perform

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Add weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Step onto the BOSU ball and adjust your footing until your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  4. Perform a standard Squat, lowering yourself to 90 degrees, keeping your back, knees and toes straight and your core tight.

Sets/Reps: 3x10

2. BOSU Ball Single-Leg Star Squats

This is one of my favorite balance exercise, because it makes the quadriceps burn. Performing Single-Leg Squats prevents your dominant leg from doing more work than your weaker leg. The exercise also better simulates in-game motions, because usually you are running or jumping off of one foot in sports like basketball, soccer and track.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Step onto the BOSU ball with one foot right in the center of the ball.
  3. Perform a Squat on one leg with your other leg out to the side.
  4. After one repetition, perform another Squat on the same leg with your free leg directly behind you.
  5. After one repetition, perform a Curtsy Squat on that same leg with your free leg behind you at an angle. That is one full repetition.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg

3. BOSU Ball Battle Ropes

This exercise forces you to focus on maintaining balance while resisting movement, which is beneficial for in-game situations, because unless you're a goalie, you rarely stand in one spot without moving. This will also increase your upper-body and core strength.

How to Perform:

  1. Set up battle ropes by rapping them around a pole or post.
  2. Place a BOSU ball in front of the ends of the battle ropes with the flat side up and the round side touching the ground.
  3. Step onto the BOSU ball and adjust your feet until they are shoulder-width apart.
  4. Pick up the battle ropes, one rope in each hand.
  5. Get into a partial squat position, about 45 degrees.
  6. Alternate moving the battle ropes up and down using your arms and core, while maintaining your balance.
  7. Progress to single leg as you get stronger.

Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds

4. BOSU Ball Ski Moguls

These combine movement with balance primarily in the lower body. They are very popular among downhill skiers, because they train the legs to be strong and balanced when resisting hills.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Step onto the BOSU ball and adjust your feet until they are shoulder-width apart.
  3. Squat down to about 90 degrees.
  4. Press one foot toward the floor, then quickly raise it as you lower your other foot.
  5. Repeat rapidly, counting both feet as one repetition

Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds

RELATED: Abby Wambach's BOSU Circuit

5. Single-Leg RDL With Row

This balance exercise is a compound movement that trains both the upper and lower body to maintain balance. It requires coordination and stabilization for your muscles to work together to perform the movement, as seen in any athletic motion.

How to Perform:

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that is a challenging weight.
  2. Hold the weight in your left hand and stand on your right leg at the same time.
  3. Perform a Romanian Deadlift, making sure to keep your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  4. At the bottom of the RDL, pause and perform a Single-Arm Row.
  5. Come back up to the starting position.
  6. Progress by performing the exercise on a BOSU ball as you get stronger.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg

6. Single-Leg RDL With Press

This conveys the same benefits as the previous exercise, but the Press focuses on strengthening the shoulders and triceps. This exercise especially benefits athletes in sports requiring overhead movements, such as basketball, baseball, football and volleyball.

How to Perform:

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that is a challenging weight.
  2. Hold the weight in your left hand and stand on your right leg at the same time.
  3. Perform a Romanian Deadlift, making sure to keep your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  4. At the top of the RDL, pause and perform a Single-Shoulder Press.
  5. Perform another RDL.
  6. Progress by performing the exercise on a BOSU ball as you get stronger.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg

7. BOSU Ball Pistol Squats

This exercise targets your quadriceps. It also activates the core and just about every other muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings and calves. It is great for athletes who perform movements primarily on one leg.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Step onto the BOSU ball with one foot in the center of the ball.
  3. Stand holding your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, parallel to the floor.
  4. Perform a standard Squat to 90 degrees, making sure not to let your knee cave in or out.
  5. Progress by adding weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 for each leg

8. Slide Board Reverse Lunge

This exercise requires great balance and quadriceps strength, because your foot is on a slick surface. The Lunge is an overall great exercise for strengthening the r core, which is essential for maintaining balance.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a slide board behind you, or use a towel on a slick surface.
  2. Add weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Get into a lunge position with your front foot off the slide board and your back foot on the slide board.
  4. Perform a Reverse Lunge, making sure to keep your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  5. Use your forward leg to bring yourself back up, with minimal assistance from your back leg.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg

RELATED: Dwyane Wade Slideboard Dynamic Glute/Hip Stretch

9. Slide Board Lateral Lunge

This offers benefits similar to the previous exercise, but it targets more of the inner thigh or adductor muscles in addition to the quadriceps. The variation in angle activates different stabilizer muscles, creating a more balanced athlete.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a slide board by your side, or use a towel on a slick surface.
  2. Add weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Get into a lateral lunge position with one foot off the slide board and the other foot on the slide board.
  4. Perform a Lateral Lunge, making sure to keep your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  5. Use your leg off the slide board to bring yourself back up, with minimal assistance from your leg on the slide board.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg

10. Leg-Elevated Bulgarian Split Squat

The Lunge is an all-around great exercise. When you elevate your leg, you increase the difficulty by requiring more stabilizer muscles to activate. This will increase your balance and quadriceps strength.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a bench or plyometric box behind you about knee-high.
  2. Add weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Lift one leg up and place it on the bench or box behind you.
  4. Perform a Standard Split Squat, keeping your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STABILITY AND BALANCE | EXERCISE | PRESS | DUMBBELLS | BARBELL | BATTLE ROPES | SLIDE BOARD | WEIGHTED VEST | BOSU BALL