a little historyoh wow, this is funny.
See, I think Balance Boards are really dangerous. Or, were dangerous. I didn't even know they were regarded as a sane / normal activity these days, or popular, until a few months ago when there was a new version lying around in a gear shop. I see there have been a few technical advances made to it, namely a track for the board on the roller, and a lack of splinters involved. But the potential for wildly shooting yourself onto linoleum, cabinet corners, or mistakenly punching yourself in the face still definitely exists. Is there a "caution" sticker on it these days?
This is all REALLY funny to me because my grandpa invented the darn thing in the 50's, and called it a "Bongo Board". He tested the prototype as a gift to my Aunt when she was 14 or so, and proceeded to take it with him on some of his worldly trips to get input and make improvements. The original was about 8" wide, 24-30" long, and raw flat wood, with a 6" wood cylinder painted red that acted as the pivot (or, death motor. Either way). There's a picture of a kid in africa on this thing. In the dirt. Holding a baby. That's some good balance. Of course, that's where the idea came from originally, so I guess that's not too shocking. Anyway, he never patented it I guess, but that's where all this comes from. Who'd have thunk it?
I can't say I ever mastered the Bongo Board. It was very convenient and useful to have something nearby to grab onto while your feet flew at warp speed in another direction. I do think that balance is a pre-requisite; the board won't produce balance that isn't already there. Maybe the new ones marketed by Balance Designs (BongoBoard.com) and Fitter's (BongoBoard.net) have bells and whistles I dont' know about, but it seems the premise is still the same. Yoga, and other low tech balance options already described here, help immensely the prevention of head-cracking when using the board, and for athletics in general. Especially competition Chess.
Incidentally, grandpa died last fall at the age of 96. The Bongo Board was still in his apartment!