Why Core Strength is Important

Core strength is extremely important in all athletes – for a multitude of reasons. In relation, or in addition to core strength, is what I refer to as rigidity. I am not sure if this is really a word or not, but I took it from the terminology of foot rigidity. Rigidity in regards to the feet, is basically when we strike the ground in sprinting or multi-directional movements – we want the foot to be rigid, or tense so that we don’t have a dissipation of energy. If you strike the ground with a ‘lazy’ or a ‘soft foot’ all the energy that it takes to rebound fast and hard is lost, as it just leaks out. This is the same when it comes to deceleration followed by a re-acceleration. Regardless of what type of direction or movement this re-acceleration is, we need to be tight and rigid to avoid what I call ‘body sway’. This is when an athlete decelerates and they cannot control their body as it sways away from their center of mass. A tight rigid body, along with the right foot angle, will allow for a swift re-acceleration in the new direction of travel.

Working Planks. If you cannot plank, you cannot control your body.

Working Planks. If you cannot plank, you cannot control your body.

Core strength is a pretty common term but can be easily misunderstood. I look at core strength as the interior strength that runs from your ankles all the way up to the top of your head. That means wherever there is a lack of strength, or a weakness, there is that dissipation of energy. And like a chain that has a weak link, that is where the breakdown goes. Your weakest link will always be exposed.

So basically when I refer to core strength, it runs in tandem with rigidity. The challenge for me as a coach, is to somehow teach this concept of rigidity to young kids, or bring them to a level of core strength that they are able to keep their bodies tense. A tight rigid body is a result of core strength, and in turn improves balance, stability, and coordination. I spoke about this in an earlier article. The better movers were the kids that had more relative strength, or were able to control their own bodies better. The ability to grip the ground with the entire foot will tighten the muscles and ligaments in the entire lower body. That is what makes for good balance and coordination. The ability to keep your body straight from head to toe while rigid is also necessary for pure acceleration.

Untitled 34Those are just a couple reasons for the importance of core strength, and I could go on and on. The reason I wanted to write this post was to provide another extremely important reason why rigidity and core strength are super important among young athletes. They take falls. And some of them are nasty. I watch my kid go full speed and into a fall, all the time. On Friday I watched him get tripped up and go into a perfect tumble – which we work on in class. The very next day I watched him run full speed and get tripped up and into a face first collision with the ground during a game (see video). That is why I train him with strength first. The kids take falls. They have to be strong from head to toe to be able to absorb and withstand these blows. Any weakness in their body will be completely exposed when they crash, and that is the whip lash that can create serious injury. Especially if you have an aggressive kid who has no regard for his body. He or she better be able to control their body and get it into a tight, strong position. When kids collide, and they do, what happens to the weak kid that hits the fire hydrant kid?

I am always looking for different ways to teach and train rigidity. Everything from planks, medicine balls, to bouncing on the trampoline. It is the most important part of training for young athletes. If I had it my way, I would not do anything but core training and body rigidity for the first month or two of training. Maybe, one of these days, that will be the case.

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