Using the Upper Quarter Y Balance Test for Return to Sport Testing

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What research is there to support using the Upper Quarter Y Balance Test for return to sport testing?

Just like other return to sport tests, there is very little in the literature (really nothing). As far as the Upper Quarter Y Balance Test, there are 2 research studies (Gorman et al 2012, Westrick et al 2012). Both studies found the Y Balance Test – Upper Quarter to be reliable. In addition, both studies found there was no difference in YBT-UQ performance between dominant and non-dominant limbs. This indicates that YBT-UQ performance may serve as a good measure in return to sport testing when rehabilitating shoulder and arm injuries. Westrick et al state:

“Similarity on the UQYBT between dominant and non-dominant limbs indicates that performance on this test using a noninjured UE may serve as a reasonable measure for “normal” when testing an injured UE.”

Y-Balance Test - Medial

Y-Balance Test - Infero Lat

Y-Balance Test - Sup Lat

We are also finding right/left symmetry on the YBT-UQ in professional and collegiate baseball players (including pitchers). So, I think if overhead athletes and healthy adults demonstrate symmetry on the YBT-UQ, that patients should demonstrate symmetry before return to sport/activity (or at least before discharge).

Other tests to consider are the Closed Kinetic Chain Upper Extremity Stability Test and the One Armed Hop test. But remember, these measure power (versus dynamic control near limit of stability) in a very limited dynamic range compared to the Y Balance Test. The YBT-UQ uniquely requires stability at the person’s limit of stability in a one-arm push up position unlike planks, side bridges, trunk flexor/extensor endurance tests and the CKCUEST. Westrick et al report:

“There was a significant fair to moderate association between performance on the UQYBT and the CKCUEST, LTET, and push-ups. These results suggest the tests are interrelated but do not necessarily assess equal components of UE CKC ability.”





  • By Stuart Maytham 02 Apr 2015

    Hi Phil thanks for the blog this was really interesting. I am currently undertaking a secondary data analysis for my Physiotherapy dissertation and would like to ask if you are aware of any research currently being undertaken with respect to the YBT-UQ?


  • By Phil Plisky 03 Apr 2015

    Hey Stuart! Thank you for the message. We are currently about to publish the the MP3 (Military Power, Performance, and Prevention) study results which include the Y Balance Test Upper Quarter in the prediction algorithm. I know there have been abstracts relating the Y Balance Test Upper Quarter to pelvic velocity in the golf swing. Others are using it in baseball (and other sports) as a biomarker for upper quarter motor control.

  • By Dan Matte 06 Sep 2017

    Hello Dr Plisky,
    Thank you for the blog and the history of how you developed the YBT. Let me introduce myself, I am a doctoral candidate at RMUoHP and I will propose to study the UQYBT in a prospective cohort study for my dissertation to see if there is a relationship between low composite scores & injury in football, swimming, and or wrestling. I am not sure yet, I have to find a population. Do you know of any studies besides Gorman et al 2012, Westrick et al. 2012 and Taylor et al. 2016 that have similar studies? Also I still need one more committee member, would you have any suggestions? Thanks.

  • By Phil Plisky 07 Sep 2017

    Hey Dan,
    Thanks for the message! Your research sounds great! I will email you directly!

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Phil Plisky

I want to change peoples lives through dialogue about creating an ideal career, injury prevention research, and return to activity testing.

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