How to Do the Single Leg Balance Test – Second in a Series
The single leg balance is the second mobility screen of sixteen that I have clients perform to test their mobility.
Mobility is important to the golf swing, if you have mobility or stability limitations, they will create swing characteristics that can cause all kinds of swing issues and bad ball flights.
Similar to the first mobility golf screen, the single-leg balance test is a seemly simple test to explain and understand.
Balancing on one leg isn’t hard. However, the test requires you to raise one leg, so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Again, a little more difficult but not that big of a deal.
The part that makes the test hard is when you have to balance with your eyes closed. Balance depends on having a frame of reference. Once you lose sight of the horizon, your sense of balance decreases.
Most people are surprised when they can’t balance for more than 5 seconds once they close their eyes!
I discuss why it is important to test your mobility in Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get with the Fitness Program.
In this article, I will explain why the single-leg balance test is an important mobility screen and how you can do the screen yourself.
Second in a Series
This is the second in a series of articles on mobility screens for golfers. The first mobility screening article is Toe Touches – How to do the First Mobility Screen for Golfers. At the bottom of that article are links to all of the mobility screens once they are published.
Further down in the article there is also a free Mobility Screening Sheet that you can download so you can track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process.
Single Leg Balance
I discuss the importance of balance in 5 Easy Golf Balance Drills You Need To Do Now. If you take a look at the professional golfers, they are very balanced throughout their golf swing.
Rory McIlory and Dustin Johnson are prime examples of balanced swings. They stick the golf club to their back and hold it there well after the ball has left the tee.
Single Leg Balance Objective
Besides testing your balance, the objective of the single leg balance test is to check the proprioceptive imbalances of your ankle mobility and well as the stability of your core.
We’re testing if you have the ability to maintain an erect and upright position without sensory input from your eyes or inner ears. Once those balance systems are gone, it is up to your proprioceptive system to keep you balanced.
How to Do the Single Leg Balance Mobility Test
If you’re familiar with the TPI procedure of this test, you will notice that I do it a little different.
TPI requires that you keep your arms at the sides of the body. I have no problem having the arms outstretched like a balancing pole. I found that most of my clients couldn’t balance very long, and it was hard to see if they had core stability or ankle issues. Balance gets worst with age, and I have mostly older clients. They would quickly wave their arms across their body, and it is hard to see the body react.
I also think raising the arms activates the core and is a better test of core stability.
Maybe stretching out the arms helps retain some balance, I’m not sure, but it isn’t going to add a whole lot of time to the test.
This is a simple test and below is a bulleted list of the steps. In the video below you can see the test first hand.
- Keep shoes on and find a level area to do the test.
- Raise one leg at the hip so your thigh is parallel to the ground and your lower leg is hanging straight down.
- You can raise your arms for balance.
- Close your eyes for a couple of quick seconds to feel how it will be different once they are shut tight.
- Keeping good posture, so head up, close your eyes and balance.
- Your body must remain straight, so your hips and shoulders need to remain level. You can’t move your hips to one side and shoulders to the other for counter-balance.
- If you lose your balance it’s ok, start again, we want a good test. You will know when you have balanced as long as you can.
- Count how many seconds go by from when you close your eyes until one of the following happens.
- Lower your leg
- Start waving like a bird taking off
- Lean so far that you start to fall
- Reposition your foot – it must remain in place.
- Open your eyes.
Once you have done any of those movements the screen is over. Remember time stops once you lose your balance, not when your foot touches the ground. So once you lose balance stop yourself from falling.
If you stay balanced longer than 25-seconds. stop, that is considered normal.
Staying balanced for 25-seconds is the goal.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
Write down the number of seconds you were able to keep your balance on the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet.
Once you have tested one leg, switch legs and test the other. You’re testing the leg that you are balancing on, not the one in the air.
Below is a video of the single leg balance test.
It’s That Simple
On the first test, you can see my ankle moving around as it tries to balance. This is ok; it’s only when you move your foot position does the test end.
You see I also exaggerated the fall. Everyone does this thinking that if they can just hold on a little bit, they will pass the test. In actuality, the tested ended as soon as my leg started to cross my body.
In the second test, you see I stumbled at first. That is ok, make sure your set and have your balance before you start the test. In the end, my camera ran out of memory…need to empty that. It was a much better test than the first one, and it lasted about 12-seconds, still much shorter than the 25-seconds it takes to pass the test.
It is easier to do the single leg balance test on a firm level surface, not a soccer pitch. But I was out for some sprints, so I took the video there instead of the parking lot or in my gym.
Exercises to Help with Balance
I published an article, 5 Easy Golf Balance Drills You Need To Do Now that has some exercises to help you with your balance. That post also has a free guide to download.
The single leg balance screen is easy, right?
Well, there are quite a few more, and they do get more complicated.
This is the second screen of sixteen.
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