Competition-Level Differences on the Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test in Baseball Players.
Butler RJ., Bullock G., Arnold T., Plisky P., Queen R.
CONTEXT: Decreased performance in dynamic balance has previously been associated with a history of ulnar collateral ligament injury in baseball players. Previous research on dynamic balance in soccer players has shown that test performance depends on competition level. However, dynamic balance has yet to be examined in baseball players. OBJECTIVE: To understand normative values and determine differences in dynamic balance, as measured by the Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test, across competition levels in baseball players. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Preseason physical examinations. PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Dynamic balance was measured in 88 high school (HS), 78 collegiate (COL), and 90 professional (PRO) baseball players. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): All participants completed the Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test using the standard protocol. In unilateral stance, they reached with 1 foot in the anterior, posteromedial, and posterolateral directions. We calculated 1-way analyses of variance to compare performance, composite score, and reach asymmetry for each direction as well as the sum of the asymmetry values (P < .05). Composite score was calculated by averaging the maximum normalized reach scores. Reach asymmetry was determined by calculating bilateral differences in reach ability. RESULTS: In comparison with the HS and COL groups, the PRO players exhibited greater posteromedial (P < .01; effect size index [ESI]HS = 1.06, ESICOL = 0.95) and posterolateral reach (P < .01; ESIHS = 0.82, ESICOL = 0.84) as well as a greater composite score (P < .01; ESIHS = 0.60, ESICOL = 0.87). In contrast, HS baseball players exhibited increased anterior reach (P < .01; ESICOL = 0.60, ESIPRO = 0.39) compared with the COL and PRO cohorts. No significant differences in reach asymmetry were observed among groups. CONCLUSIONS: Lower extremity dynamic balance performance differed based on the baseball players' competition level. These baseline data may be helpful in identifying low-performing athletes who might benefit from neuromuscular interventions.