By: Frank Quido – Owner, BreakOut Athlete
The Corp, the Corp, the Corp. I’m borrowing a phrase used by our U.S. Marines and changing it slightly to the core, the core, the core. The translation is to emphasize that you cannot overstate the importance of the core when it comes to softball and athletics more generally.
Importantly, the core is more than just our abdominal muscles. The core is a large group of muscles that provide stability and support to the body. Because the core plays such a significant role in generating rotational power necessary for hitting, throwing and pitching it becomes evident that the stronger an athlete’s core is the more power they can produce.
The key to throwing hard is getting elastic energy to transfer from each player’s legs, through their hips, into the trunk, and finally out through the arm.
Hitting power isn’t much different. If the upper body is dominant in a swing, only 25-30% of power potential is being used. When you teach your lower body and core to dominant your swing and work in conjunction with your upper body, the ball will fly off your bat like never before.
The body’s core is the powerhouse. Though, crunches and leg raises will help strengthen certain muscles in the core you shouldn’t rely solely on those two movements. Some excellent exercise include “V” ups – lying on a flat service with legs straight out and arms stretched out behind your head, raise your legs and shoulders off the ground having your hands and feet meet at the midway point. When returning to the starting position do not let your feet hit the ground. Repeat for about 6-8 reps and gradually increase that number as your core strengthens. Another great move – Russian Twists – sitting on a flat surface with your back angled at about 45 degrees and knees bent – rotate your shoulders from side to side. To further challenge yourself, add a medicine ball. For more advanced athletes perform with a medicine ball and feet off the ground.
Additionally, when you are working through your hitting routine, focus on using your core in your swing. When you begin to recognize the energy your core generates, especially in your swing, you can work it out simply while hitting off a tee and soft toss. This will also ensure that your entire body, upper and lower, is engaged in the swing to create a more powerful swing. Your core is the connection between your upper body and lower body. As your core strengthens and you become more aware of how it generates energy and power in your swing, you will also find there are “swing” specific exercises you can do for your core.
Ultimately, there are many exercises that can be done to develop the core strength needed to improve your softball throwing and hitting. Remember, though, if you are not currently integrating core work in your training, take it slow and gradually build in more complex moves as you get stronger. We want you to get stronger without any set back from preventable injuries.
Remember, it’s all about the CORE!
Frank is owner of BreakOut Athlete – which has been called CT’s Sports Performance Training Facility. Clients include D1 College players, High School Player of the year nominees and numerous All-State selections in various sports. Frank is SCC and YFT certified. Coaches High School Football, Basketball and AAU Baseball. Frank was formally the CIO of the Response Insurance Companies. Frank is married to Lori and has three children, Ashley, Felicia and Jason.