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AFCA

Balance and Core in the Off Season
With Spring Training just ahead, this is the perfect time to work on balance and core strength with your athletes. According to a study by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA),
…during postseason and off-season mesocycles, Swiss ball exercises involving isometric muscle actions, small loads, and long tension times are recommended for increases in core endurance.
These types of exercises will provide the recovery needed from a season of heavy hitting and lifting while increasing the strength of the core musculature that is the foundation for upper and lower body control, coordination, and power production. Lighter loads, increased reps, and slower tempos will have your team leaving the training room feeling challenged, yet accomplished in a whole new way. Here are a few stability ball exercises you can use to train the three main areas of the core: Shoulders, Torso, and Hips.

Stability Ball Plank (Shoulder Stability & Torso Isometric Contraction)
Begin kneeling on the floor in front of the ball. Place elbows and forearms on top of the ball.
Drop the hips forward, knees on the floor to start with shoulders back and down.
To begin the plank, release the knees from the floor to form a straight line from the head to heels.
Supporting the body with the forearms, hold the plank for 20-60 seconds.

Stability Ball Prone Reverse Crunch (Shoulder Stability, Torso Strength)
Begin in a push up position with hands on the floor and the top of the feet/ankles on the stability ball.
Keeping the hips parallel to the ground, slowly begin to draw the knees in toward the chest and elbows.
Slowly return to starting position. Repeat for 10-20 reps.

Single Leg Bridge (Torso Stability, Hip Strength)
Sit on the floor in front of the stability ball, knees bent and feet on the floor.
Lie back on the ball so that the head, neck, and shoulders are supported.
Extend left leg straight and off the floor. Push through the right heel to raise the hips parallel to the ground.
Slowly lower the hips down to just above the surface of the floor. Repeat for 10-20 reps before moving to the left leg.
This exercise can be regressed by performing it on the floor without the ball.
Core and balance training will not only strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscle groups of the body but can also help to prevent injury. The NSCA also suggests, … Balance board and stability disc exercises, performed in conjunction with plyometric exercises, are recommended to improve proprioceptive and reactive capabilities, which may reduce the likelihood of lower extremity injuries.
For example, have athletes perform a light weight, slow tempo squat on a Versadisc or Balance Board followed by a set of plyo box jumps. The balance training in this way will not only strengthen the muscles in a squat, but also the ligaments involved in stabilizing the knee, hip, and ankle. During the box jumps, focus on the powerful take off but a soft, controlled landing with bent knees. A controlled landing can make all the difference in injury prevention.
Check out these and other accessories Power Systems offers to keep your team in the game in the post-season.

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