Surfing, wakeboarding, kiting, wingfoiling, stand-up paddling – the possibilities in board sports are nearly endless. Especially for board sports beginners, getting started can be a shaky affair and involuntary water stunts are bound to happen at first. Good news: nowadays you can train on dry land for boarding and balancing the waves – on a balance board. These wobble boards are much more than just a sporty trend. In addition to improving physical fitness, they train balance and coordination skills and contribute to targeted fall prevention – for more fun in board sports adventures.
What is a balance board?
"In the broadest sense, it’s a board-like device that stimulates the sense of balance and improves motor skills and coordination," explains sports scientist Moritz Martin, managing director of Sensosports GmbH and world vice-champion in windsurfing. These boards are available in different models, depending on the training status and requirements.
With so-called roller boards – the name says it all – you balance with the board on top of a cylindrical wheel. This poses quite a challenge and is principally intended for experienced, trained athletes, due to the risk of injury. Closed balance board systems, where the standing surface cannot move spatially, are beginner-friendly as there is no risk of falling. "As long as beginners pay attention to these important differences, everyone can get started straightaway, regardless of their personal fitness level," explains Moritz Martin. Even our inner couch potato self, which tries to keep us from exercising, will give in to a wobble board, because it can be easily integrated into everyday routines without investing much time and there’s enough space for it even in smaller rooms at home or at the office.
Closed balance board system
Coordination training with wing
Training the core muscles
The secret lies in body balance
Training on a balance board is ideal preparation for getting starting in board sports for several reasons: It precisely trains the balance, coordination and sensorimotor skills that board athletes need on the water.
In concrete terms, this means that the nervous system learns to quickly activate the relevant muscle groups in order to control and balance the body’s position. Moritz Martin emphasizes the value of dry training for board sports beginners: "A classic mistake beginners make on the board is that they tense up, which makes them fall into the water more often. On the balance board, I can train the necessary movement stability and bring more looseness into the body. When coordination is trained to a good level, fatigue also sets in later. This gives me more time on the board in the water to learn movement patterns, I can maintain good posture for longer and achieve faster learning effects than if I get tired quickly. "General speaking, the slower the sport, the greater the demand is on equilibrium and motor skills.
Three examples from boardsports
In wakeboarding, the start is especially challenging for beginners, but after that the board stabilizes itself through propulsion. In stand-up paddling, on the other hand, due to the low board speed you have to balance the board all the time, even in light waves. Balance training also pays off for beginners in the trendy sport of wingfoiling, as Moritz Martin confirms: "In wingfoiling, the quality of movement on the board is very important, because the sport is less forgiving of mistakes – if you have good coordination, you benefit all the more.”
The dry training tips
The best effects can be achieved through sport-specific movement training. It’s important to include different positions and also visual direction in order to benefit from each training unit in a versatile way. "The most important thing here is the greatest possible range of motion," says Moritz Martin. "All joint angle ranges should be moved through, for example by doing deep knee bends. Stabilization exercises for the core muscles and support exercises also help to achieve a holistic effect."
By the way: You can find out more about the sporty balance boards at boot Düsseldorf 2022 in the Surf Sports Hall 8a.