Golfers have better balance control and confidence than healthy controls

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Nov;111(11):2805-12. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-1910-7. Epub 2011 Mar 17.


In a well-executed golf swing, golfers must maintain good balance and precise control of posture. Golfing also requires prolonged walking over uneven ground such as a hilly course. Therefore, repeated golf practice may enhance balance control and confidence in the golfers. The objective is to investigate whether older golfers had better balance control and confidence than non-golfing older, healthy adults. This is a cross-sectional study, conducted at a University-based rehabilitation center. Eleven golfers and 12 control subjects (all male; mean age: 66.2 ± 6.8 and 71.3 ± 6.6 years, respectively) were recruited. Two balance control tests were administered: (1) functional reach test which measured subjects' maximum forward distance in standing; (2) sensory organization test (SOT) which examined subjects' abilities to use somatosensory, visual, and vestibular inputs to control body sway during stance. The modified Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) determined subject's balance confidence in daily activities. The golfers were found to achieve significantly longer distance in the functional reach test than controls. They manifested significantly better balance than controls in the visual ratio and vestibular ratio, but not the somatosensory ratio of the SOT. The golfers also reported significantly higher balance confidence score ratios. Furthermore, older adults' modified ABC score ratios showed positive correlations with functional reach, visual and vestibular ratios, but not with somatosensory ratio. Golfing is an activity which may enhance both the physical and psychological aspects of balance control. Significant correlations between these measures reveal the importance of the balance control under reduced or conflicting sensory conditions in older adults' balance confidence in their daily activities. Since cause-and-effect could not be established in the present cross-sectional study, further prospective intervention design is warranted.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Golf / physiology*
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Social Dominance
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology