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January 15, 2022

Softball Players: Rethinking Abs

When we are looking to build core strength for softball players, we have to get away from the typical mindset of "crunches." I challenge the coaches of the teams I work with to consider the motions we complete in the softball world, and then, think about how best to "resist" the motions we need to do well. In doing so, we can eliminate common movements [people do for ab work that are not effective for the sport. These movements such as crunches and v-up's actually can create more instability, induce low back and shoulder pain, and create bad movement patterns that affect how an athlete throws, pitches, and swings.

The concept of shooting a cannon from a canoe comes into play here, if we do not have a stiff, stable core it's like shooting a cannon from a canoe.

Movements we should be avoiding here are:

  • Sit ups
  • Crunches
  • Max hold planks
  • V-Ups
  • Flutter kicks
  • Bicycles, etc.

And instead, we can look to movements that require and create stiffness through the core. Stiffness in the core equates to power, just like our cannon analogy above. We want to shoot a cannon from a strong base (which is what these exercises will create), not from a canoe.

  • Paloff press (see video below)
  • Deadbug with resistance (see video below)
  • Side planks on knees
  • Farmer's carry, sandbag carry
  • Single-arm, single-leg movements (see bear row video below)
  • Rotational rows with dumbbell or band, etc. suc

Common Cues Where People Make Errors in these Movements are:

Paloff Movements

1) Create tension in shoulders and neck which takes work away from the core. Relax shoulders and push knuckles as far away from your body as you can.

2) Do not bend wrists, keep extension in arms from shoulders to fingertips.

3) Don't let the lower back arch. Keep ribs stacked over hips in a straight line.

Bear Row

1) Support arm is doing the work, do not lock it out.2) Let shoulder relax down and keep whole entire hand imprinted into the box/bench.

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