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"Thanks to five years of
training at Athletic Edge,
I have developed a
significantly improved
understanding of how
the body works in the
golf swing and how to
prepare for peak performance.

As both a golf coach and
a competing pro, I can-
not imagine preparing
for sports in any other
way. In addition, my
students and I have
overcome numerous
injuries and what
we thought were
physical limitations."

-- Scott Paris

Head Golf Professional,
Plainfield Country Club



Core training has become a buzz phrase in the sports performance industry over the past few years.  And while the core is critical for sports success, it has been slightly misunderstood from a training perspective.  For core strength, exercises should involve movement of the spine and hips into flexion, extension and/or rotation (such as crunches, back extension and any twisting or rotating movement).  For Core stability, exercises should have no movement of the spine, only maintain spinal positions (examples being bridging progressions, kneeling on stability balls or other balance type exercises).  How do athletes themselves know where to begin?

Russian Twists create rotary strength in the core

At Athletic Edge, we understand the difference between training for core stability and training for core strength.  We know when it’s important to be strong and stable through rotation, from side-to-side and from front-to-back.  We show that the core, or trunk, has the main purpose in athletics of allowing an athlete to transfer force from the ground upward and outward.  It’s crucial for everything from throwing, to blocking, to kicking, to diving, etc.  If the trunk isn’t stable, the force will dissipate back into the athlete’s core and will not be expressed against an opponent or object.  In other words, athletes cannot advance — themselves, the ball in their hand, the puck on their stick, etc. — and they can easily get knocked over and hurt.

Contrary to what most people believe, the core is not only abdominals and low back muscles, but everything from the neck down, excluding extremities.  This also involves the hips and shoulders — if they’re unstable, the athlete is at high risk for injury.  Many of the most critical muscles involved in core stability are not even visible, but are below the surface muscles (e.g. transverse abdominis, quadratus lumborum, to just name a few).

Bridging variations develop great core stability

Because everyone wants a strong core, many fantastic new ways of training these muscles have been devised, in addition to some of the older methods seeing a come-back. But an athlete's goals have to be specific in order to choose which to use and how to train effectively.

Many of the training devices used for core stability have a great value to athletes if used properly. The idea behind the stability ball, for instance, is that by forcing an athlete to perform movements while on an unstable surface, the deep abdominal wall will need to control the trunk to successfully perform the movements. This can be extremely effective, but should be used in its proper context. Not every exercise needs to be done on an unstable surface all the time.

Medicine ball side-throws improve rotational explosiveness

Medicine ball training, a tried and true method, can also be an effective training tool, especially for developing trunk power. But medicine ball drills come in many forms. An athlete can do slower repetitions with heavier weighted balls, super-fast repetitions with lighter weighted balls, and anything in between to create different training effects. Compound free-weight exercises, such as squats, Olympic lifts and snatches are also extremely demanding on the trunk because there is a lot of weighted movement going on that the body has to stabilize and adjust to. Even some "stationary" types of the exercises, such as planks, can be useful, since the trunk's main function in sport is many times to be a stabilizer, not a flexor or extensor.

Unstable training produces readiness on the playing field

The one constant in the multitude of core stability options is that an athlete has to be aware of the goal in order to get the proper training and the ultimate sport success. What's the sport? What's the position? In what phase of training is the athlete? The answers to these questions dictate what exercises get chosen and how much or how little of each should be done. The trainers at Athletic Edge help athletes incorporate the right core workout into an overall strength and conditioning program that takes their game to new levels.

Athletic Edge Saccadic Fixator

Frontal Plane Training
Do not neglect training core stability in the frontal plane (side to side). This is where most athletes are weak. Try doing side bridges - sometimes called pillars. This training exercise is important in sports such as golf, baseball or any other striking sport, since the lead side must brace before hitting an object.

Rate Of Speed Training
Make sure your core strength exercises are performed at the same rate of speed as they are done in your sport. For example, if doing rotational exercises for hitting a ball or shooting in lacrosse or hockey, the movement must be trained explosively against light resistance, since this more closely mimics the actual sports movement.

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