Every athlete has experience with core exercises. We have all sat on a dirty gym floor and hammered out abdominal crunches. But have you ever thought about the usefulness of those crunches? I sure hope so (hint: they are worthless). In fact, studies show they don’t even help burn off fat, but I digress.
The bottom line is that every exercise you perform should have a specific intent. Exercises need to have a direct correlation to a movement that you are going to be asked to perform come game day. Unfortunately, too many core exercises that athletes are asked to perform do not correlate to any movement that the athlete will be asked to make during competition. But there are certain core exercises that have a direct correlation to the movements that baseball athletes are asked to perform.
For example, medicine balls can be used for some incredible explosive core exercises. These exercises include one-knee overhead throws, standing catapults, torques, and running catapults, to name a few. These exercises are great because of their similarities to the movements required of baseball athletes during games. For example, a catapult is very similar to the action an athlete performs during the final movements of a throw (coming over the plant leg). A torque, on the other hand, is very similar to the separation of hips and torso that occurs while throwing and swinging.
Although these exercises can be performed using any air-filled medicine balls, there is a problem with doing so—the balls are thrown with such velocity into a solid surface that they typically don’t last long. The air-filled medicine balls will bust, as they simply cannot withstand the pounding.
Oates Specialties recognized this issue and created a solution: the TAP Pummel Ball. The TAP Pummel Ball is filled with sand, which allows the ball to absorb the energy of an athlete’s throw without the failure at the traditional weak points of an air filled medicine ball. An additional benefit of the Pummel Ball is that because it is sand filled it does not bounce. This is beneficial because the athlete does not have to deal with the ball coming off the wall and back at him. Below is a video that demonstrates some of the explosive core exercises that can be performed with the TAP Pummel Ball.
Another great way to train the core is through unstable exercises. If you introduce an unstable surface or equipment that is constantly shifting, it requires the athlete to recruit other muscles, termed neutralizers and fixators, to help control the movement. These neutralizers and fixators are in large part located throughout the core (depending on the exercise, of course). A piece of equipment that exemplifies this is the TAP Strength and Stability Trainer. The Strength and Stability Trainer—sometimes referred to as an aqua bag—can be partially filled with water, providing instability during an exercises as the water constantly shifts. This requires the athlete using the product to recruit his stabilizing muscles (the neutralizers and fixators) in order to maintain balance.
The TAP Strength and Stability Trainer challenges and strengthens the core without the athlete even realizing it. For example, the ever-shifting water turns traditional lunges into a serious core workout, as the core is required to be engaged as the athlete lunges forward in order to keep him from falling to one side or the other due to the shifting of the water. This translates to a game where an athlete will be required to make numerous small adjustments while performing movements. The below video demonstrates some of the exercises that can be performed with the TAP Strength and Stability Trainer. When watching the video, focus on the core stabilization that is required.
The bottom line is this: you need to train your core for the type of tasks it will be asked to perform during a game. Oates Specialties has the equipment that can help you do just that.