Surfing performance, injuries and the use of the Y balance test

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Strength and Conditioning Association


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research




This article was originally published as: Freeman, J., Bird, S., & Sheppard, J. M. (2013). Surfing performance, injuries and the use of the Y balance test. Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning, 21(2), 32-39.


The demands for sport science to improve athlete performance in surfing are becoming more prevalent. There are many characteristics that are required for surfing, such as aerobic fitness, muscular endurance, coordination and balance. Balance and postural control are required to maintain an upright position on the board whilst riding the wave and performing manoeuvres. Balance is influenced by somatosensory, visual and vestibular systems in response to the changing environment that surfing presents. A combination of 41 studies and reviews pertaining to the Y Balance Test (YBT), physiological aspects of surfing and its associated injuries were analyzed. The main findings in this literature review identified anaerobic fitness, muscular endurance and balance as key characteristics relating to surfing performance, whilst further studies showed the practical application of the YBT in identifying chronic ankle instability and predicting injuries. Literature related to surfing injuries focuses mainly on the type and causation with key findings revealing lacerations to be the most common injuries which were caused by collision generally affecting the lower extremity. Practical recommendations for the use of the YBT for strength and conditioning coaches include (i) Performing the test with three practice trials; (ii) Conduct the YBT when the athlete is in a fresh state; (iii) Anterior reach asymmetries of more than 4cm may increase injury risk; and (iv) Knee flexion angle of greater than 63° may improve anterior reach score.

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