"Balancestep"

This is a new hit in the market of fitness equipment. Many hundred years old eastern technique popular among all strata of people was used when developing this new technology. Its entity was in the trainee’s balancing on hemisphere blocks, and it was widely used because of its prevention and strengthening effect. This balance technique was very popular in east asian cloisters, homes and especially in marshal arts schools as means to keep the slim line, upright figure and the whole body muscles development.

Esperienze dei sportivi

BALANCE STEP

At the present on the market with the sports goods there are many training tools, which help the building-up of „frequency“ speed, of ankle joint strengthening and balance development. Most of them – even if functional – have, however a limited usage. Either for its „immobility“, given by larger dimensions (bulkiness), or for the increased risk of an accident with unsuitable using. The best of them are fully convenient, however they have a limited local efficiency.

While Balance Step works as a real complex, widely available novelty in this field. This instrument certainly has the largest usage in sports with great requirements on balance, dynamics and frequency of the lower limbs (for example ballet, athletics etc.).

It offers its specific role in tennis preparing as well. A special step locomotion, which is based on small steps of high frequency and short sprints, is the principle for the locomotion on the court. „Locomotive“ success of the tennis-player (if we ignore the stroke technique) is also determined by the response speed, however mainly by the speed and technique of the response – locomotion towards the ball. The last steps, during which the player is preparing the position for his best ball play - so called „timing“, are always the most important ones.

The practice of this specific running technique is not easy – it is even impossible with many children without using artificial instruments. In any case (even with very regular and intense preparing it is a long-run process).

At this place BALANCE STEP comes to the fore. It distinctively shortens the time of the practice of the stated special movements (locomotions). It seems to be essential for the youth age groups (from younger pupils to younger youth), where the motion habits can be influenced relatively very quickly. Almost every second player of this age (i.e. almost 50%) cannot run „well“. Most children run on their whole soles or over heels. Thereby the speed itself is considerably decelerated, but the spine and joints are mostly overtaxed. Such a player is certainly limited in his performance in the older age groups (even if he has a fair stroke technique).

Teaching such a „locomotion sample“ correct running is almost impossible. Neither skipping rope, nor special fitness techniques can train this in a favourable time perspective. An enormous progress is evident after 1.5 – 2 months of intense training with Balance Step – the child begins moving on his front parts of the sole, thanks to stronger muscles of the astragal joint the child accelerates the step frequency,...

Extra it builds-up even the muscles of knee and hip joints, gluteal and low dorsal muscles along the spine. It develops the instinct for balance, which is highly shown with playing the caught balls and swift direction change.

With older age groups (older youth to seniors) the locomotion technique itself cannot be distinctively influenced. But Balance Step can find a wide application even here. Mostly as a prevention of ankle joint injury – so frequent in this sport. By regular using this instrument the backaches abate incredibly quickly (especially of the lumbar part). The time of recovery and the rehabilitation of post-traumatic conditions of ankles and knee shorten sorely.

Last but not least, Balance Step creates positive psychic condition before the match – feeling of „ a tiger before jump“, feeling of „irascibility“ and „dynamics“.

SUMMARY:

I. Positive features:

  • it distinctively shortens the time of practicing the correct running techniques
  • it’s essential in timing practice
  • it firms the muscles of ankle, knee and hip joints, gluteal muscles and muscles of low spine
  • it develops the balance
  • it prevents more often accidents of ankle joint (aptly it shortens the time of rehabilitation)
  • it curatively influences the spine area
  • it builds-up the psychic well-being – it creates the essential condition before the match
  • high instrument mobility
  • easy and quick handling with attaching and detaching
  • price accessibility
  • product durability

II. Negative features: (many a time relative)

  • necessity of regular and intense usage
  • rather simple defatigability with intense using/li>
  • impossibility of usage at wet places/li>
  • danger of hurting the weaker individuals with unsuitable using/li>
  • limited series of exercises (in comparison with ballet, athletics...)

STORE OF BALANCE STEP EXERCISES AND RECOMMENDED GUIDANCE

I. STATIC EXERCISES (suitable for the beginners and body building)

  • Position of „surfer“ (low volleyball guard with one advanced leg) – we keep the balance by really small balancing steps. Later we try to keep the balance without moving, or with as least number of steps as possible. The standing position can gradually be decreased to 1/2, to 1/4...
  • Position of „downhiller“ – the same as with the previous
  • Position of downhiller – holding time with balance steps on the line (basic)
  • Stand with one leg stretched out – (left of right out + lower guard) – holding time (balance steps on the side line)

II. DYNAMIC EXERCISES

  • „Hop-da-ta“ – skip from the right leg on the left one with two (three) frequent substeps (best done over the line)
  • „Africa“ – two square rods or lines approximately of the shoulder width from each other – we begin between the rods by basic position, with jumping both legs out the rods, by another jumping both in, by jumping left out + right in, by jumping right out, left in, by jumping both in, etc.
  • „Rock-n-roll“ – skips – alternative skips on one leg with the other leg stretched out
  • „Lay figure“ – forward straddle, rod (line) between legs – by jumping right to the left from the front and left to the right from the rear (cross), by jumping forward straddle, by jumping left to the right from the front and right to the left from the rear, etc.
  • „Twist“ – stand with right (left) leg stretched out, rod (line) between the legs corn-wise – skips alternatively by right/left to the front and rear with the rotation of legs and hips to the side. Shoulder kept in one direction.
  • „Boxer cut“ – as point 3, but with putting the weight on both legs
  • „Gallop“ – hops on one point
  • Lifting on one point
  • Hops with small stretching out
  • Alternative hops with right to the front – left to the rear
  • Small steps on one point with hip rotation (twist) of legs
  • Curving, right leg (left) on one point / low guard – by small steps with left (right) leg draw circle around the other leg (as quick as possible – we don’t lift the focal point
  • Tripping by gallop (sideward) along the end line in a lower guard.
  • Lifting along the endwise line
  • Volleyball „pair of compasses“ – dynamic small steps with overstep as with volley
  • „Exercises“ – small gallop oversteps sideward 4x (one-two-one-two) – gallop with hops 1x – the same on way back
  • Skips over the skipping rope with balance steps on legs (just for the advanced)
  • ... and other possibilities of rhythmic series out of these and similar elements.)

HANDY REMINDERS

  • All dynamic exercises should be performed in series (3-5) of 10-20 s (depending on the guard depth). Longer interval is not suitable – it doesn’t build-up the real irascibility, dynamics.
  • All static exercises can be performed with single longer lasting load (1-5 minutes), but as well as with the dynamic exercises it is more suitable to use the interval load in 3-5 series. The load time period during such training is effective from 30 seconds and should not exceed 5 minutes (depending on the age, level of practice and guard depth).
  • The original condition for correct using (and thereby achieving the hoped-for result) is the accurate placing of balance step on the sole area. Firstly we center the balance hemisphere exactly to the center of the lengthwise sole axe and then we shift if closer or further to/from the toes (further from the toes – closer to the sole center – we achieve easier exercise performance and rather medical sense of exercises, by placing closer to the toes the difficulty rises and it has distinctively „sporting“ character).
  • We never use the balance hemispheres at damp or wet places.
  • With development defects and anomalies (in the areas of hip or sole) consult the usage with orthopaedist, sports doctor or fitness trainer.
  • During intense usage of balancestep fast tiredness occurs mainly in the beginning. Have respect for the body information, stick to relaxation and do not overload the muscles.

PAVEL JANDA
Chartered tennis coach of the 1st class
Fitness trainer TSM, SVT in I.ČI, TK Praha

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