Single-Leg Balance Performance in Sub-Elite Young Soccer Players and Swimmers as a Function of Age and Sports Experience

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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The present study investigated if accumulated, advanced, regular soccer practice (balance-demanding exercise) compared to regular swim practice (non-balance–demanding exercise) induces a more pronounced functional specialization in postural control. Therefore, single-leg balance performance in sub-elite young soccer players (under 13 [U13]: n = 16; U15: n = 18; U19: n = 15), and sub-elite young swimmers (U13: n = 7; U15: n = 4; U19: n = 5) was tested in different balance task conditions (i.e., static and dynamic balance on firm and foam surface). All athletes practiced 3–10 times per week. Single-leg balance of the dominant and non-dominant leg was measured using a force plate. The standard deviation of the center of pressure displacements in anterior-posterior and medio-lateral directions were used as dependent variables. Irrespective of age groups and type of sport, the results failed to indicate significant leg differences in single-leg balance performance. The soccer players showed significant better single-leg balance performance in anterior-posterior direction in the dynamic balance test on the firm and foam surface compared to the swimmers. Functional specialization was accompanied by the type of sport but not by accumulated practice.

Leinen and Panzer are with the Institute of Sport Science, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. Muehlbauer is with the Department of Sport and Human Movement Science, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

Panzer (s.panzer@mx.uni-saarland.de) is corresponding author.
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