Core training is thought to be important to improve functional sport activities, particularly those involving force transfer through the abdominals and back, into the extremities. For example, much of the strength and power required to throw a baseball comes from the force transmitted through the core from the legs. This is an example of the ‘kinetic chain,” where different parts of the body are interconnected and all contribute in some way to performing a functional activity.
Few studies have investigated the effects of core training on functional performance. Athletic training researchers investigated the effects of a shoulder training program with and without core stability exercises. 19 baseball players were randomly assigned to an open and closed-chain exercise program, or the same program with additional core training. 15 healthy age-matched non athletes were used as a quasi-control group. Each subject was tested for throwing accuracy, core stability, and proprioception before and after the 6-week program.
Both groups performed a shoulder training program that included free weights, closed-chain balance board, step-up, and exercise ball exercises, as well as plyometric ball tosses. The core training group also performed stabilization exercises such as the dead bug, sit-up, bridge, wall slides, and sitting on an exercise ball.
After the training program, both groups improved in function, stability and proprioception. The addition of core stability exercises did not result in significantly different outcomes. It’s possible that the core stability program may not have been functionally challenging to the core. Relatively static exercises were used in the core training program, rather than sports specific training.
Thera-Band® products such as exercise balls, soft weights, and balance boards can be used successfully in a baseball training program to improve throwing accuracy.
Lust KR, et al. The effects of 6-week training programs on throwing accuracy, proprioception, and core endurance in baseball.J Sport Rehabil. 2009 Aug;18(3):407-26.