Swing Harder and Run Faster With a Stable Core

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Sports are multi-directional, meaning movement takes place in different planes from different positions. It is vital to train for speed and agility in all directions to simulate movements you make in games. But it's equally important to develop your strength in all directions.

That's where rotational stability of your core—the ability to prevent your body from rotating—comes into play. It's a critical component for executing sports skills like swinging a bat, throwing a ball, absorbing a tackle or changing direction. It's also crucial for preventing injury, particularly to the low back.

A good example is the golf swing. Although most of its power comes from the hips, the core must stabilize the spine and ribcage to prevent unwanted movement. During rotation, if certain areas cannot stabilize due to muscle weakness, unwanted movement will occur, power will be lost and your shot may go off target. Similarly, if your core is unable to stabilize while sprinting or cutting, your speed will diminish as power is lost.

To build a strong and stable core for multi-directional movements, the Cleveland Browns perform the following exercises:

Plank Pulls

  • Assume plank position and grasp band in one hand
  • Lift one arm up and extend it straight ahead and parallel to ground
  • Flex elbow to pull band toward shoulder; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each arm
Benefits: Forces the core to stabilize the body to prevent unwanted movement with the arms overhead, similar to throwing or serving

Pallof Press

  • Assume athletic stance with feet wider than hip width and body positioned perpendicular to cable
  • Grasp handle with both hands directly in front of chest
  • Extend arms in front of chest, keeping core tight
  • Flex arms and return to start position with control; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 3x8 each side
Benefits: Increases rotational stability with the arms extended away from the body for improved control of a golf swing, slap shot or tennis groundstroke

Physioball Toe Taps

  • Assume push-up position with toes on physioball
  • Lift foot off ball and tap floor, keeping core tight
  • Return foot to ball and perform with opposite leg
  • Repeat in alternating fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each leg
Benefits: Develops rotational stability using a single leg for support to improve balance and control when running, changing direction and landing from a jump

Mark Roozen, M.Ed., CSCS,*D, NSCACPT, FNSCA, serves on the strength staff of the Cleveland Browns. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock