Revolution Conditioning Training Tips: Standing on stability ball is just plain dumb
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You can be either a goalie or a circus clown – not both!
I had an email from a fellow trainer who works with hockey players asking me to clarify the fad of standing on a stability ball for training hockey players. He just did not understand why he was still seeing this used for goalie training.
To me, seeing this in a goalie’s off-ice training program screams not only incompetence, but negligence on the part of the trainer.
As a strength and conditioning professional, your goal is always to weigh the risks and rewards of each exercise, then program the exercises that provide maximum reward with minimum risk. Standing on a stability ball neither delivers maximum benefit nor minimum risk. Let’s take a closer look at why standing on a ball is not an appropriate off-ice drill for goalies.
Goalie must use the ankles, knees, hips and torso to stabilize the ball while standing, squatting or pressing on the ball. This will place more demand on the stabilizing muscles and force the goalie’s brain to interpret and respond to a lot of proprioceptive input.
That is the only benefit I can think of. Okay, maybe one more…all your friends will think you are so cool because you are standing on a ball (until of course you fall off, break your tailbone and cry like a baby).
Naturally the risk is you will fall off, never mind the increased risk of injury if you are standing on the ball with weights! Dangerous! Don’t believe me? Check out this video:
I will admit, the guy looks pretty cool until he gets to the third stability ball.
When standing on the ball the feet take the contour of the ball, the goalie is working in this proprioceptive rich environment with their ankles inverted (turned in) which is not a position that will be used in a bilateral standing position in net. Bottom line – the mechanics of the movement are all thrown off. Would you squat on the floor while rolled over on your ankles?
The stability balls that you will find in many fitness clubs have been there for years, they may not be burst resistant or they may just be well past their shelf life. How would it feel to have a stability ball burst while standing on it?
You cannot (nor should you) lift heavy weights when standing on a stability ball.
Is dumbbell or barbell squatting meant to be a balance exercise or a strength exercise? Correct, it’s a strength exercise, so you are not even addressing the purpose of the exercise by standing on the ball.
It is okay to include some instability training – YES! When you are trying to work on stability. Do not confuse stability training for strength or power training. If you want to do some dynamic squatting exercises for balance that is fine, use a balance board or the flat side of a BOSU – something that is not going to burst or shoot out from under you.
I really don’t imagine (I hope) many trainers are still getting their athletes to stand on the stability ball. I used to stand on the ball myself and even had a promo shot of me standing on the ball (so my friends would think I was cool), but I abandoned that years and years ago.
Good solid training is cool. Standing on the stability ball is not! There is your lesson for the day on being cool in the gym – in our next lesson – what sleeveless shirts are acceptable in the gym and I will answer the question, “Why do so many trainers insist on wearing camo?”
photo credit: Hockeybroad via Flickr