Hate BOSU Balls? Don't Use Manual Perturbations

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If you search for “unstable surface training,” you’ll find a lot of fun stuff, much like this image:

Whatever you do, don't do this.

Ball Squat – Safe and Functional?

Most trainers and coaches worth listening to are not fans of BOSU ball training for healthy athletes, stating that it’s way more useful to train athletes on stable surfaces as it transfers to unstable surfaces while the reverse is not true. Well, I don’t disagree with that – trying to increase load on a movement like a BOSU ball squat is dumb. However, many of these same trainers/coaches will turn right around and recommend manual perturbations on the shoulders of a healthy (or at least asymptomatic) throwing athlete, as seen in this video:

I have nothing against manual perturbations; in fact, we do a fair amount of them ourselves on our throwing athletes. However, there’s a catch-22 in all of this:

Manual Perturbations = Unstable Surface Training

You can’t say on one hand that you’re against unstable surface training yet perform manual perturbations on your athletes’ arms when they’re doing cable extensions, vertical Pallof presses, or other static holds. That is functionally no different than prescribing BOSU ball squats or lunges.

My opinion has changed on unstable surface training; while I am still against heavy loads on unstable surfaces (no point and it’s also inherently unsafe / difficult to increment properly), I think there is value in doing eccentric-specific training on BOSU balls for athletes who have a lot of ballistic demands in the lower half – basically any athlete involved in fast-twitch sports.

So if you see some videos of our guys doing BOSU ball squats for warm-ups, don’t jump to conclusions, please. But don’t worry – you won’t see guys throwing off of them or back squatting on them. Remain sufficiently amused at videos demonstrating that brand of nonsense.


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