Dr Mel Siff Talks Core Training Mythology Resources

Published: 11th March 2010
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Some very active coach sent me this letter and requested to remain anonymous
for the mean time because he does not wish the discussion to be tainted by
focus on who he is and who he trains, rather than what the problem is.

ringing among those of us who have witnessed how unproductive and
time-wasting "core stability" training usually is, along with the
unimaginative and non-specific nature of the stability challenges involved in
the ball and board drills. As something of a closet biomechanist, I couldn't
agree more with your views on "core" versus "peripheral" stability, because
one simply cannot train the "core" without training the periphery.

Basically, it is extremely frustrating to see healthy athletes doing
super-safe, non-challenging exercises that often involve less demand on
balancing skills than geriatric jogging, let alone running over hurdles,
negotiating swerving skills in many sports, taking part in wrestling or doing
gymnastics. Our coaches have even had the misfortune to hear various
'authorities' telling us about the so-called proper progressions from body
weight exercises, to Olympic lifts, to core stability ball work (yes, in that
order! I thought I'd misheard this 'expert', and made him repeat himself).

Lately I have been attempting to convince some of our coaches and
physiologist colleagues that "ball" training is not all it seems, nor does it
endow one with skills that may extrapolate directly to any top level sport.
I have attempted to find studies that have looked at and supported ball
training within athletic populations, to no avail. Some of the coaches I
have been in contact with are now looking for documentary evidence that
highlights the inadequacies of ball training, which, to anyone who have
worked seriously in sport for long enough, are very obvious - but we would
now like some more documented evidence.

Believe it or not, this is needed politically to reduce the emphasis on this
very- overmarketed training mode. This presents a bit of a paradox...find
research evidence to dispute a training mode for which there is no scientific
evidence in the first place. Can you or anyone else help? Even some web
based articles by yourself and others would help.>

For a start, please search our archives for articles that some of us have
written in the past on this topic, then let me know what else you need. The
world of motor control offers a great deal of research on the biomechanics
and neurophysiology of balance, agility and movement. Much of this work
shows that the non-stepping balance drills on balls and wobble boards, and
the specificity and complexity of different static and dynamic balancing
tasks, do not automatically endow one with the specific and highly volatile
motor skills required in most sports. Far too much of the ball and wobble
board training philosophy is based upon physio drills used for pathology and
for the early management of musculoskeletal injuries. Remember, too, that
this philosophy also sells products for some of the more visible marketeers
in this field.


Dr Mel Siff
Author of Supertraining

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