Y Balance Test
Original Editor - Adriana Mesa
The Y Balance Test (YBT) is a tool used to test a person’s risk for injury. It can be used for both the upper quarter and lower quarter. The YBT for the lower quarter (LQYBT) has been thoroughly researched as its protocol is based on research done on the Star Excursion Balance Test. The Star Excursion Balance Test demonstrated reliable results on its ability to predict LE injury in high school basketball players, and the LQYBT has identified athletes at increased risk for injury.
The YBT for the UQ (UQYBT) has been shown to be a reliable test to assess unilateral UE function in a closed chain position. The UQYBT also has the patient reach in 3 different directions with one UE while in a push-up position . Further research is needed to determine the applicability of the UQYBT.
The LQYBT has the patient stand on one leg while reaching out in 3 different directions with the other lower extremity. They are anterior, posteromedial and posterolateral. When using the Y-Balance test kit, the 3 reaches yield a “composite reach distance” or composite score used to predict injury. Research shows that collegiate football players with a composite score below 89% had an increased probability of injury from 37.7% to 68.1% . Therefore a cut point of 89% composite reach on the YBT was established (with a sensitivity of 100% and a +LR of 3.5). For high school basketball players, the cut point was 94% . These studies reveal that each sport/population has it’s own risk cutpoint  .
The LQYBT showed good interrater test-retest reliability with an acceptable level of measurement error among multiple raters screening active duty service members, and a second study shows excellent reliability (ICC = 0.88- 0.99)  
The Y-Balance, along with the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), are used in the “Move2Perform Algorithm” software to predict the risk for injury. The components used are:
- Previous injury
- Y-Balance test composite score based on gender, sport and competition level
- Y-Balance Test asymmetry
- Functional Movement Screen (FMS) total score
- Functional Movement Screen Asymmetry
- Pain with testing
Based on the algorithm, patients are then categorized according to risk level (normal, slight increased risk, moderate increased risk, and substantially increased risk).
- Plisky PJ, Rauh MJ, Kaminski TW, Underwood FB. Star excursion balance test as a predictor of lower extremity injury in high school basketball players. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2006;36(12):911-9.
- Butler RJ, Lehr ME, Fink ML, Kiesel KB, Plisky PJ. Dynamic balance performance and noncontact lower extremity injury in college football players. Sports Health. 2013;5:417-422.
- Westrick RB, Miller JM, Carow SC, Gerber JP. Exploration of the Y-Balance Test for assessment of upper quarter closed kinetic chain performance. IJSPT. 2012; 7(2): 139-147.
- Plisky PJ, Gorman PP, Butler RJ, Kiesel KB, Underwood FB, Elkins B. The reliability of an instrumented device for measuring components of the star excursion balance test. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2009 May;4(2):92-9.
- Shaffer SW, Teyhen DS, Lorenson CL, Warren RL, Koreerat CM, Straseske CA, Childs JD. Y-Balance Test: a reliability study involving multiple raters. Mil Med. 2013;178(11):1264-70.