Improve Your Balance with Stability Ball Exercises

Add a stability ball to various exercises to improve your balance and stability and enhance your performance on the field.

Balance is essential for athletes, helping them make more precise and powerful movements during competition. It keeps them centered and more aware of their body in motion. Too few athletes spend the time needed to perfect their balance. Adding balance training to your workout routine is simple, and one great way to accomplish it is to incorporate stability ball exercises.

Here are 10 stability ball exercise variations athletes can use to improve their balance. For bonus exercises, check out NBA superstar Damian Lillard's Stability Ball Circuit in the video player above.

1. Dumbbell Chest Press on Stability Ball

The Dumbbell Chest Press is a great exercise for building the chest, triceps and anterior shoulder muscles. As every football player knows, you and your opponent are always moving, yet not always balanced. To build your muscles to react in these situations, perform the Chest Press with your back on a stability ball instead of a flat bench. This requires more engagement of your core and stabilizer muscles to resist the unevenness of the stability ball.

How to Perform:

  • Use dumbbells with which you can perform 15 reps on a flat bench.
  • Sit on a stability ball holding a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs.
  • Using your legs, propel each dumbbell, one at a time, to chest level by driving your knees up.
  • Once the dumbbells are off your thighs, walk forward until the ball rolls up to your shoulder blades.
  • With your feet flat on the floor, perform a regular Chest Press in a slow and controlled motion with your hands in an overhand grip.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x12

2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press on Stability Ball

The Dumbbell Shoulder Press is another great exercise for strengthening the shoulder and triceps muscles, essential for sports such as basketball when you're shooting or going up for a rebound against an opponent, in most cases somewhat off balance and unstable. To simulate those game situations and movements while increasing your core strength, perform the Shoulder Press while sitting on a stability ball instead of a bench.

How to Perform:

  • Use dumbbells with which you can perform 15 reps on a flat bench.
  • Sit on the stability ball holding a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs.
  • Using your legs, propel each dumbbell, one at a time, to chest level by driving your knees up.
  • Once the dumbbells are off your thighs, perform a regular Shoulder Press in a slow and controlled motion with your feet flat on the floor and the dumbbells in an overhand grip.
  • Avoid rolling backward and overextending your back.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x12

RELATED: Improve Mobility and Strength With Damian Lillard's Stability Ball Circuit

3. Dumbbell Curls on Stability Ball

Dumbbell Curls are good for strengthening the biceps and anterior deltoids. They simulate the pitching movement in softball, the hitting motion in volleyball, and the wrestling stance. In all these motions, balance is a key to producing the force you need, which is why performing Dumbbell Curls on a stability ball is beneficial for athletes looking to increase their biceps strength and improve their stabilization.

How to Perform:

  • Use dumbbells with which you can perform 15 reps on a flat bench.
  • Sit on the stability ball holding a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip hanging down by your side.
  • With your feet flat on the floor and your back straight, perform a Biceps Curl with both hands simultaneously in a slow and controlled motion.
  • Avoid using momentum and your back to lift the dumbbells; focus on using just your biceps.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x12

4. Dumbbell Pull-Overs on Stability Ball

The Dumbbell Pull-Over is great for strengthening the lats, which are essential when performing overhand throwing motions in baseball, basketball, football and even soccer. During the throwing motion, athletes usually have one foot forward and one foot back, which requires great balance, especially when you have to produce a lot of force. Performing the Dumbbell Pull-Over on a stability ball strengthens your lats in an unstable position, similar to game situations, thus allowing you to throw farther and harder.

How to Perform:

  • Use dumbbells with which you can perform 15 reps on a flat bench.
  • Sit on the stability ball holding the end of a dumbbell with both hands in a diamond shape resting on one thigh.
  • Using your legs, propel the dumbbell to chest level by driving your knees up.
  • Walk forward until the ball is under your shoulder blades.
  • Press the dumbbell straight up above your chest with your elbows almost completely locked.
  • Lower the dumbbell backward over your head in a slow and controlled motion until full extension.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x12

5. Dumbbell "Y" and "T" Raises on Stability Ball

Dumbbell "Y" and "T" Raises strengthen all aspects of the shoulders as well as the rhomboids. Performing them on a stability ball adds a balancing factor that strengthens the stabilizer muscles, which are easily fatigued and overused during the pitching motion.

How to Perform:

  • Use dumbbells with which you can perform 12 reps on a flat bench.
  • Lie prone on a stability ball with your toes on the floor behind you.
  • Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip.
  • To perform the "Y," raise your arms straight out in front of you.
  • Keeping your back and arms straight, slightly retract your shoulders and raise the dumbbells forward to eye level in a slow and controlled motion.
  • Lower the dumbbells and perform the "T" Raise by moving your arms straight out to your sides perpendicular to your body.
  • Retract your shoulders and lift your arms straight up in a slow and controlled motion.
  • Lower the dumbbells and transition into your next "Y" raise. That is one repetition.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x10

6. Bulgarian Split Squats on Stability Ball

The Bulgarian Split Squat adds balance to an ordinary Split Squat by elevating the leg. Instead of resting your leg on a flat bench, rest it on a stability ball to create even more unstable footing, requiring more balance and muscle stabilization.

How to Perform:

  • Place a stability ball on the floor behind you.
  • Lift one leg off the ground and place your distal foot on top of the stability ball.
  • Balancing on your other foot flat on the ground with your knee and toe straight.
  • Squat down in a slow and controlled motion until your knee almost touches the ground.
  • Make sure your legs are far enough apart so that your knee does not go past your toes when you squat and so that you retain good posture.
  • To increase difficulty, hold dumbbells or an EZ Bar while performing the exercise.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x10 each leg

7. Stability Ball Wall Sits

Wall Sits are an isometric exercise, meaning your muscle length does not change during contraction as you remain in a static position. They build endurance in the quadriceps, hip and glute muscles. Adding a stability ball creates an uneven surface, making it harder to simply lean against the wall like in an ordinary Wall Sit.

How to Perform:

  • Place a stability ball against a flat wall.
  • With your mid- to lower back against the ball, lightly lean on it.
  • Set your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the ground in front of you, knees and toes straight.
  • Squat down to 90 degrees and hold.
  • Make sure your feet are far enough in front of you that your knees do not go past your toes.
  • Sets/Duration: 3x60-seconds.

8. Stability Ball Reverse Hyperextensions

Back Extensions and Reverse Hyperextensions are athlete favorites for strengthening the lower back and glutes, but they are usually performed on a stable pad. When you perform them on a stability ball, your core and lower back have to work much harder to keep your body in line and to avoid falling off to the side.

How to Perform:

  • Place a stability ball on top of a flat bench.
  • Lie prone with your lower chest on top of the stability ball.
  • Grasp the bench with both hands.
  • Without rolling the ball forward, extend your back and legs in the air behind you in a slow and controlled motion, keeping your legs straight.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x15

9. Stability Ball Back Extensions

This stability ball exercise forces your core and lower-back muscles to work harder to keep good posture and proper form.

How to Perform:

  • Place a stability ball on the floor a few feet from a wall.
  • Lie prone with your stomach on the ball and your back facing the wall.
  • With your legs fully extended, place your feet flat against the wall and your toes on the floor.
  • Place your hands behind your head.
  • Keeping your back straight, perform a standard Back Extension in a slow and controlled motion, focusing on contracting your glutes.
  • To increase difficulty, add resistance with a weight plate or perform without assistance from the wall.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x15

10. Stability Ball Leg Curls

The hamstrings are vital in almost every sport, especially when you are sprinting. Strengthening them is important. Using a stability ball specifically helps with athletic movements. Balance and stability in the lower back, glutes and hamstrings are needed to perform this exercise.

How to Perform:

  • Lie flat on the floor on your back.
  • Lift your legs and place the back of your heels on a stability ball.
  • Place your hands out to the side with your palms flat on the floor.
  • Dorsiflex your feet so your toes come toward you.
  • Dig your heels into the ball and lift your hips off the ground.
  • Bend your knees and curl the ball to your butt while you simultaneously bridge up.
  • Perform the movement in reverse back to the starting position. That is one repetition.
  • To increase difficulty, perform with a single leg.
  • Sets/Reps 3x30

RELATED: 5 Physioball Core Exercises That Build Strength and Stability


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PHYSIOBALL | CHEST | EXERCISE | BENCH | PRESS | DUMBBELLS | FLAT BENCH | STABILITY BALL