Stronger core = Better performance

Stronger core = Better performance

By Leon Scott, MD

Athletes everywhere are looking for an edge.  For me, as a doctor, I love being able to tell athletes about tools that get them the performance they want while reducing injuries.

WomensLAX_webOne set of tools in particular is shown to reduce major knee injuries in athletes while also improving vertical jump height by an average of 3 inches.  These same tools are associated with improving a pitcher’s performance (lower WHIP) while reducing elbow and shoulder injuries.  When I use these tools with field-sport athletes I see more powerful and accurate shots on goal and passes.

So what are these tools? They are core and balance training.  You need them because a stable core keeps the many joints in your spine stable so you don’t lose power as you run, jump, pass and shoot.  No, this isn’t about just making your abs more “ripped”. I’m talking about the core muscles that are deeper than your six-pack muscles and the small muscles deep in your hip that keep you stable.

Every coach will have their favorites, but these three exercises need to be part of your routine.  Do each for one set before you warm up and for two sets after your work out as your part of your cool down.


Belly breathing:

When we breath a weak core can cause our backs to arch.  Belly-breathing can help you feel your deep core muscle working.

Step 1 – Lie on your back with your knees flexed.

Step 2 – Put a hand on your chest and another on your belly.

Step 3 – Breath in through your nose so that your belly expands, your chest doesn’t rise and your back stays in contact with the ground.

Step 4 – Breath out through your mouth while trying to bring your belly-button down toward your spine.

Step 5 – Take five breaths.

This isn’t how you usually breath, but it helps you feel a muscle deep in your belly, the transversus abdominis, that expands and tightens your core.  If this muscle gets stronger, all the muscles that stabilize your spine work better. Stable spine = less energy lost in sports & fewer back injuries.



After belly breathing, bridges help get the deep hip and back muscles to fire correctly.  If these muscles are weak, then every time you take a step in running you lose momentum as your hips sag.  This means you’re slower and less powerful.  This also puts your back and knees at major risk.

Step 1 – Lie on your back with your knees flexed.

Step 2 – Activate your core with one deep breath out through your mouth.

Step 3 – Lift your bottom up off the table followed by your low back and mid back.

Step 4 – Hold this position without sagging for 5 seconds.

Step 5 – Return back to the ground slowly starting with the mid back, low back, then bottom.

Step 6 – Do five repetitions.



A lot of people train their cores with moves like crunches and resisted rotation.  However, most have trouble remaining stable and balanced during simple movements.  In a game, having better balance will translate to more accurate passes and shots. Try this exercise with a partner.

Step 1 – Stand on one foot.

Step 2 – Have a friend take elastic bands or tubing and hold it on the same side as the leg you are standing on.

Step 3 – Hold the band out in-front of you with straight arms.

Step 4 – As they tug the band, maintain your balance and resist rotating your body.

Step 5 – Do ten repetitions on each leg.



Do you want a personalized core and balance program? Schedule a visit with Sporti’s athletic trainers for one of our assessments.  Learn more about the different assessment types here.


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