Balance is a term frequently used by health professionals working in a wide variety of clinical specialities. There is no universally accepted definition of human balance, or related terms. This article identifies mechanical definitions of balance and introduces clinical definitions of balance and postural control. Postural control is defined as the act of maintaining, achieving or restoring a state of balance during any posture or activity. Postural control strategies may be either predictive or reactive, and may involve either a fixed-support or a change-in-support response. Clinical tests of balance assess different components of balance ability. Health professionals should select clinical assessments based on a sound knowledge and understanding of the classification of balance and postural control strategies.