Baseball components such as hitting, throwing, fielding, and running share a common movement: rotation. Such rotational movement patterns are driven through the musculature of the core/trunk - of which a majority is oriented horizontally or diagonally. This non-linear orientation of the core’s musculature supports the importance of rotational training for baseball.
The core’s ability to rotate is made possible by the contra-lateral connection between one shoulder to the opposite hip. This connection allows forces to be transferred, in a diagonal pattern between the upper body and the lower body. In turn, this diagonal pattern supports rotational forces typical in baseball.
Despite these ‘rotational’ baseball components, a variety of crunches and sit-ups (sagittal plane) continue to take center stage as the abdominal (core/trunk) exercises of choice for baseball players. These exercises are typically performed slow, in a single plane of motion and on the floor with zero to minimal rotation. Baseball consists of short, quick, explosive, multi-directional movements - from standing positions - requiring a rigid, stable core from which to accelerate, decelerate and stabilize forces. If the core is weak and unstable, then maximal forces cannot be expressed; let alone transferred to other parts of the body.
Think of the body as a chain - a chain comprised of healthy strong links - the upper body, the core, and the hips/legs (lower body). Most players realize the importance of lower body and upper body strength for on-field performance. However, many fail to realize the importance of proper core training that establishes core stiffness. The amount of trunk(core) stiffness determines the amount of ground reaction forces that are created, routed into the ground and then re-routed back up thru the core and onto the other “moving parts” (extremities) involved in a particular movement. As an example, the trunk briefly stiffens just prior to the hips rotating thru a batting swing. It is this stiffness that allows for powerful hip rotation followed by rotation of the trunk leading to a subsequent increase in bat speed.
Regardless of the rotational component , the sequence for Ground Reaction Forces is as follows:
CORE: genesis of forces – where force is generated. Spinal stabilization/ Core Stiffness is necessary in order to ensure the maximal amount of force can be used. An unstable/weak spine diminishes the amount of forces that can be created
LEGS/HIPS: transmits forces from the core to the ground
GROUND: Force is routed to largest stable mass (ground) via the extremities (legs) thus importance of ground based training. The ground reacts, or gives back exactly what we give it. (Ground Reaction Forces)
LEGS/HIPS: transmits forces back up from the ground to the core
CORE: command center – decides where the forces are to be expressed either out the top (upper extremities) or back down (lower extremities)
To support on-field performance, your off-field baseball training program should incorporate rotational, anti-rotational, anti-flexion, anti-extension, and anti-lateral flexion movement patterns to develop a strong and rigid/stable core to ensure maximal transfer of rotational strength between the upper body and legs/hips.
Out Train the Game!