Balance is essential to parkour. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but we can all use a reminder every now and then. Whether you've been training for six days or six years, you can always work on your balance.

Why is balance so important?

Simply put, balance is important because you are constantly balancing in parkour. I tried to think of some clever way to say that, but it really is that simple. Jumping, landing, vaulting. You need to balance to do any of it.

Also, as some have pointed out before, focusing on fundamentals like touch and balance are essential to learning how to do the big, cool stuff in parkour.

How do I start training balance?

Don't think that just because you're training parkour you need to be standing on a rail to improve your balance. When you are starting to train balance, you can just start on the ground. (Actually, everyone can probably find a way to challenge their balance while still on the ground.) A simple progression could be like this:

1. Balance on one foot on the ground.

2. Balance on one foot on something lumpy like grass or a pillow.

3. Do #1 and #2 with your eyes closed.

There's a lot of other ground-based variations you can try, so experiment a little. The main thing you should remember is that you can do a lot of balance training on the ground.

How do I walk on a rail?

Maybe some people out there were able to just hop on a rail and start walking. I know it took me a lot of practice. Here's how to improve your ability to walk on rails: stand on them first.

Stand on one foot (with your foot pointing down the rail) for about 15 seconds, then switch to the other foot. As you get better, work on lengthening that time. Once you feel comfortable standing on a rail with one foot, walking will be a lot easier.

Walking down a rail isn't really walking at all. Instead, it's more similar to balancing on one foot, then switching to the next (like you did when practicing your one foot balance). You aren't really stepping as much as placing the next foot on the rail.

The difference between the two is where your weight is. When you are walking on a rail, you keep your weight back so you can place your foot on the rail without immediately putting force on the foot. If you place your foot on the rail and realize you didn't place it quite right, you can pick it up and get a do-over if your weight is still on your back foot.

What's next?

After you start feeling comfortable walking on rails, you should start working on other kinds of balance if you haven't already. Although walking on rails is great balance training, the most useful kind of balance to train is with both feet on the rail and facing out from the rail. In parkour you are constantly needing to control yourself in that position, like when your jump or land -- things we are constantly doing.

After you feel comfortable balancing on one and two feet, start getting creative. Work on turns, walking with your hands behind your back -- anything that offers you a new challenge.