Brain based coaching – balance training


Before I start writing about actual topic of this post, I need to explain first what inspired me to write about it!

I always feel stunned, frightened and somehow little bit upset when I realize how many things most of the coaches don’t really know and don’t understand, but they still work with young athletes. Which is somehow still ok as long as those same coaches are willing to learn and to work on their knowledge constantly. But that is not the case every time.


The idea for this post came up few days ago after seeing one of many available videos online where was shown one of the “cool looking exercises” for handball goalkeepers. In my opinion – there was no clear idea behind the drill, the basic technique was performed in a bad way, and actually one of the most common mistakes in that save movement was presented and suggested as the main part of the exercise… After seeing that video, I could just look away, of course. But I am too passionate about my coaching work, and I know how much time is needed to work on correction of some of those mistakes and wrong learned movements!

So I couldn’t help, but to ask the creator of the video about the idea behind the exercise.

The answer I have got was so humble and completely honest. He said that he “just wanted to create cool looking exercise for handball goalkeepers”… That is exactly the thing I am trying to emphasize in my work: first make sure that your goalkeeper is able to perform properly certain exercise, then do it. To be able to see the mistake in goalkeeper technique, first you have to KNOW how proper element of technique – movement looks like. Do not only “copy/paste” something you see online, because very often that leads to working with young goalkeepers and not seeing wrong details in his/her performance, thus allowing automation of wrong learned technique.


That same humbleness and honesty that I recognized in e-mail from that coach were somehow really cute in the end, so I wasn’t upset anymore and I tried to understand and appreciate his intention. I also very much support the invention part! But can we, all coaches, be more aware of what we are doing? How and why we are doing it? When we are doing it?!?!

Also, if we are not able to back up our “exercise invention” with some solid knowledge, if we are too busy to research, read and learn, can we at least try to show proper technique?..  Please?..   Thank you! 🙂



I am still not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing that nowadays we have so many videos with exercises for (in this specific case) handball goalkeeper training available online.. It should be definitely a good thing, because still there are not so many educational materials about handball goalkeeper coaching, but then when I see some videos like the one I just mentioned – I am sure it’s not a good thing!!!


I have already written earlier about this phenomenon of  “internet coaching”. In my understanding, internet coaching is coaching based on plain copy/paste material (exercise) from the internet, without understanding  why, how, when or with which age group we should do that certain exercise!



Balance training

Then I have to mention bosu ball now in this same post, since I saw it being used in many videos of this same coach, but also I have seen it lately being used very often in handball goalkeeper training as a balance training tool!

Bosu ball is somewhat “new discovery” in handball goalkeeper training, so I understand all the fame about it, but at least make sure you are not actually practicing and rehearsing wrong things while working on it!

And one more thing – can we, please, finally make it clear: you don’t have to wobble to train balance! The handball court does NOT move under us. And it probably never will in normal conditions! So why to train so much becoming better in balancing only on wobbly surface?! And let’s make this clear – I am not against balance training on bosu ball, but I am against the fact that some coaches train balance only on bosu ball or some other wobbly surface (without including head movement)!

I know what kind of thoughts or answers most of you have right now about training the balance on bosu ball for example, but please consider little bit more concepts of the brain based coaching in your work and you will understand completely what I mean. The shortest explanation I can give you on this is: when wobbling on bosu ball (or any other similar wobbling thing), what happens with your body? What happens with your head, specifically? You tend to “lock” your upper body, especially your head, you keep it in one place while trying to keep the balance. So what then, you might wonder? Well – you don’t get much of a balance training if you don’t move your head and your eyes!! Simple as that! The thing is that the apparatus in inner ear, which is designed to help us maintain our balance, also responds a lot to the head movement. So if you keep your head “locked”/ still – you won’t get any fluid movement in your inner ear.


Stabilizing the head decreases vestibular activation. The brain uses different movement strategies to balance on unstable surfaces. Since handball happens on solid ground it doesn’t make sense to practice (as the only balance training option) for something completely different! But here comes part about brain based coaching and intentional training. I’ve always been very passionate about the brain training! And I include that passion and knowledge into my handball goalkeeper coaching as well as into my everyday life.

Balance training requires head movement, because head movement challenges the inner ear. Without head movement, the fluid in the inner doesn’t move to signal the brain that you are in motion, so the brain will interpret that you are standing still and then there is no activation of your balance or challenge to it.


The vestibular system is responsible for sense of balance, and it’s one of the most important reflexes in the human body because it stabilizes our vision while our head is in motion. And we all know how often that happens in handball!

If you truly want to train balance, then instead of using an unstable surface, consider moving your head and eyes, use position specific stances and make sure you win! If it’s too challenging-you are training to fail.



In the end of this post, please understand – it wasn’t my intention to judge anyone! There are also still many things that I don’t know, and I will always be humble and in awe in front of all the Knowledge that I am trying to dive into!

I am just trying to say – it’s scary how much we don’t know! 🙂 But even more scary is if we don’t want to Learn!!!

And that is the most amazing Challenge ahead of all us coaches! Not knowing should push us to learn more, read more, do and try more! That’s exciting! That’s what we should all strive for, and it gives me the hope!



But please, during that learning and discovery process, just try to think also about these few questions:

How much you train/coach for balance but you never move your head and eyes?

How much you train/coach reaction but without working on vision?

How much you train/coach for stamina, but did you consider to learn/teach about breathing and how to improve respiratory control?



Just to make this whole post little bit more clear:  I am not totally against the option of working on balance on wobbly surfaces! But I am definitely against it if it’s THE ONLY option which would be used for the balance training!



Stay happy, inspired and thirsty to learn more! 🙂


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