A baseball player’s performance largely depends on having a flexible yet solid strong core. This is something you can only get through a great baseball core workout paired with strength training and stretching.
Not only will this help you with motions like throwing, pitching, twisting, and other essential skills but will also reduce your risk of getting injured on the field.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the why’s and the how’s of getting a proper core workout to improve your swing and holistic baseball skills. So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading for more information!
The Role Of The Core In Baseball
Before diving into the details of how to train using a baseball core workout, you first need to understand the role of the core in your baseball skills.
Contrary to popular belief, your core does not only refer to your abs but includes all muscles that go around the body from your chest to your upper thighs. All of these muscles brace the trunk in order to prevent your lower back or lumbar spine from moving.
This creates a solid foundation for the explosive movement of your limbs for much more power without the risk of injury.
The core muscles also play a crucial role in swinging the bat and pitching or throwing the ball. With a stronger core, more power is transferred to the bat or ball as you drive off your legs to throw or swing.
A strong core also equals to a better balance, your best friend when it comes to perfecting your batting stance.
1. It helps improve your rotational power and flexibility
In hitting and pitching, it is important that you can do a good, controlled twisting motion of your body. By having strong abdominal muscles, you can explosively turn your hips for an extra push of power when you swing the bat and pitch the ball.
2. It helps enhance power transfer
With a stronger core, you are able to transfer power from one body part to another more efficiently. This is important for increasing your batting average or the ratio of hits over the number of times you batted. It also helps increase your sprint speed and acceleration.
3. It helps against injuries
In 2009, an ESPN article also pinpointed at oblique abdominal muscle strain as one of the most problematic and most common injuries that pitchers sustain. In fact, according to the results of a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, abdominal strains and other core injuries account for 5% of total baseball injuries.
Also, the researchers found that unlike arm and shoulder injuries that are more common, core injuries have a high tendency of keeping the players grounded for longer time periods stretching up to 35 days. Recurrence of injury was also reported to be a pretty frequent problem.
Fortunately, a comprehensive core workout that involves flexibility training and stretching was found to avoid these problems. It helps prevent injury while also assisting in the healing or recovery from past injuries.
4. It flattens the stomach
Most people strive to develop a flat stomach and strong core muscles play a key role in achieving this. This will make you look and feel better about yourself and your body for that extra boost of confidence that you are likely to carry into your game.
5. It prevents back pain
Based on my experience, even a slight discomfort or pain on your back can have a negative impact on your concentration, confidence, and performance during a game.
However, with strong abdominal and back muscles, most types of back pain can be prevented. This includes back pains due to back muscle strain or soft tissue injuries that many people are all too familiar with. Building these muscles before you even sustain an injury can even prevent back pain altogether.
6. It helps improve your posture
According to Web MD, focusing on exercises that work on strengthening your core is the best way to get good posture. An added benefit of this is that pressure is taken off your spine, which further reduces any risk of injury.
Since good posture encourages you to stand and walk with an air of confidence, it also has a psychological benefit that is essential in all sports encounters.
How To Engage Your Core Muscles
In order to use your core muscles effectively, you must first master the “breathe and brace” method.
The first step in doing this is inhaling or breathing diaphragmatically or deep into the abdomen. This engages all the otherwise underused and overlooked inner core stabilizer muscles and eventually strengthens them.
To breathe through the diaphragm, take a big breath through the nose. Air should fill your abdomen, sides, and back. This acts as a foundation for all actions that you will be doing both in the gym or weight room and in the baseball field.
Next, let’s get to bracing. Bracing refers to the act of engaging or squeezing your abs tight. For example, this is what you do if you are anticipating a punch to your stomach in which your core muscles tense up.
It is important to brace your core in basically all exercises you do. However, it is notable that some exercises require you to brace your core more intensely than others.
To illustrate this, a plank does not require the same amount of core tension and bracing as a 500-pound squat. This is why I believe that deadlifts and squats are excellent exercises for developing real core strength.
Baseball Core Workout
Enhancing your rotational power and the stability of your core muscles should be your focus of an effective baseball core workout. These attributes are what makes professional baseball players really stand out and excel in the field.
Nowadays, most amateur and young baseball players do not understand the concept of a proper core workout. Instead, they get too focused on long distance runs, cardio exercises, and mainstream high-repetition ab exercises in the hope of developing core strength.
However, all of these actually do not do much in improving their performance since the movements do not replicate the ones you would have to perform during a baseball game.
So, I recommend building strength and flexibility instead. These will have a bigger positive effect on your overall game performance and help you avoid getting core muscle strain.
Baseball Core Exercises To Try
The best formula for an awesome baseball core workout consists of a proper stretching and warm-up then at least one medicine ball rotational exercise followed by strengthening exercises and finished off with one or two direct core training exercises.
Now, here are some of the best exercises for developing core strength, power, and stability:
1. Med Ball Rotational Exercises
These will improve your speed and power by mimicking the way you throw a ball or swing your bat. They involve driving through your rear leg for maximum power, rotating the hips toward your target, and ending with a slight upper back rotation. The core should remain engaged and stable without rotating for optimum power transfer and to protect your back.
After warming up, start off using a light medicine ball and make sure your movements are explosive as you do the following exercises depending on your skills and experience:
2. Russian Twists for Beginners
These strengthen the back, lower abs, and oblique muscles for strong core and better toned waist.
To do this, sit on a mat or the floor with your knees bent and your feet slightly raised. Hold a medicine ball a few inches in front of your chest. Then, twist the ball from side to side, keeping your body centered and your elbows tucked in. Do this for 3-4 sets of 10-20 reps per side.
3. Medicine Ball Rotational Throws for Intermediate Players
To do this, hold a medicine ball as you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and perpendicular to a wall. Using explosive movements, throw the ball sideways to hit the wall and allow it to bounce back to you. Do this for three sets of 4-6 reps per side. You can do this one side at a time or by alternating sides.
4. Tornado Ball Slam for Advanced Players
Stand with your back against a sturdy wall and your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. With a slight bend on the knees, engage your core, and get a good grip on the tornado ball rope by putting it around one hand and grabbing onto it with both hands.
Start swinging and slamming the ball to the wall from side to side, being careful not to throw or rotate your spine. Your goal is to target the fast twitch core muscles so make sure your movements are explosive.
As you go faster and harder, bend your knees further in order to adjust your center of gravity and avoid the centripetal force of the ball to throw you forward.
Do 4-6 sets of 5-10 seconds each. As you get better, you can progress to multidirectional or diagonal swings.
After these exercises, you can do different plank variations, rotational landmine presses, modified sit-ups, or other movements that strengthen the core.
That’s probably everything you need to know about a great baseball core workout! If you liked this article, please feel free to share it and leave a comment down below. Also, make sure to check out these helpful product reviews!