Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

3 Biggest Core Training Mistakes Most Athletes Make

Mike Robertson recently released his new “Complete Core Training” product, and is offering it at $50 off this week only.

Complete Core Training System

As I mentioned to those of you on my newsletter list, I had a chance to review Complete Core Training and thought it was excellent. It’s a great blend of the “whys” and “hows” so you have a complete system of how to train the core, but also know why the system was developed.

I have a lot of respect for Mike. In fact, over the last 5 years, I’ve read his work more consistently than anyone else in the field. He’s constantly looking for ways to improve his programs, and (importantly) he actually trains people on a daily basis, so you know his ideas have been real-world tested.

I asked Mike to write a guest post on the 3 biggest core training mistakes most athletes make, which he graciously agreed to. Check out the post below, and if you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below!

3 Biggest Core Training Mistakes Most Athletes Make by Mike Robertson

For 16 years now, I’ve trained athletes of all shapes and sizes.

From little Johnny, the kid who will never play high school sports, up to pro athletes in the NFL, NBA and MLS, I’d like to think I’ve seen a lot of good (and bad) training.

It should be obvious, but an athlete can’t train like a bodybuilder.

They can’t just do random core training exercises and hope it will carry over to sport.

As such, here are three of the most common mistakes I see athletes making with their training. Enjoy!

Mistake #1 – Not Using Contextual Core Training Exercises

Now I know what you’re thinking here:

What does “contextual” even mean?

Contextual simply means that the body postures and positions you’re using for your core training have some carryover to sport.

Sure, there’s probably a time and place for general work where you’re in a prone position, lying on your back, etc. But at some point in time, you need to get comfortable being in positions that are similar to your sport.

In sport you’re often in a split- or parallel-stance position. From this posture, can you effectively control your abdominals?

Core Training-Lateral 1:2 Kneeling Cable Chop

Lateral 1/2 Kneeling Cable Chop

If not, you’re missing the boat. You need core and pelvic control to get the hips in the right position.

If you can’t control these areas, that inability to load your hips will lead to excess (or inappropriate) stress in the abdominals, lower back, and hips.

So developing stability and control in specific positions is crucial. But what other mistakes are we making?

Mistake #2 – You’re Not Bridging the Gap

Too often, we assume that if we’re including core work in our program that it will automatically carryover to other aspects of our training.

You might be crushing your core with random, isolated exercises, but we can’t assume that it will magically carry over to speed, power and strength development.

Using contextual exercises is a start, but from there, we need to further bridge the gap by taking those postures and positions into the rest of our training.

For example, I love reactive med ball work in a tall- or half-kneeling position where you rapidly throw and catch a medicine ball. It’s great for creating stability and control, as well as developing a small degree of upper body power.

But from there, we need to take that and flesh it out. We need to make it a true power exercise, versus a lower level stability and control exercise.

This is where you take that rotational med ball throw and make sure that you’re able to control and appropriate position your core in a high speed/high power/high force environment.

Core Training-Split Stance Med Ball Scoop

Split Stance Med Ball Scoop

It’s just a standard progression, but it’s something I find many coaches ignore. Their athletes look great when they’re doing the low load/low velocity work, but when it’s time to bring it all together, their athletes fall apart.

Think of this as a slow evolution. Dial in the stability and control first, especially in postures and positions that focus on appropriate core position and control.

Then, move to bigger exercises, but continue to reinforce proper posture and mechanics.

Make sure they’re controlling their core and pelvis.

Make sure they’re loading the hips (and not the lower back).

And as this is all starts to smooth out, take your foot off the brakes and let them be athletic!

Mistake #3 – Not Including Alternating Work in the Program

I’ll admit my bias up front: I’m a huge fan of PRI. And one thing that PRI talks about incessantly in their work is the concept of alternating function.

We know that the lumbar spine has a limited degree of rotation available to it. In fact, the entire lumbar spine combined only has 10-15 degrees of rotary capacity!

So while our goal should be to maintain that lumbar rotary capacity, the real end game here is better rotation up top.

Athletes need to be able to rotate, and some of the primary areas to unlock this are the hips, shoulders and thorax. Whether you are running, skating or swimming, the ability to effectively rotate your thorax is crucial for keeping you healthy and improving performance.

I’m a huge fan of half-kneeling and split-stance work my athletes, because I know that core and hip stability are crucial. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the end game.

The end game is to give them stability and control through the hips, pelvis and core, while giving them the ability to rotate freely up top.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

As you can see, my hips are square throughout, but I’m driving rotation through my thorax.

One of my favorite cues (which I believe I stole from Mike Cantrell) is to have the client/athlete focus on their sternum, or chest bone. Imagine there’s a laser on there, and you are trying to point the laser to the right and left.

Doing this will ensure that they are getting their rotation through the thorax.

Summary

I don’t claim to have all the answers for what ails athletes, but these are three of the most common mistakes I see.

If you can create more context with your programs, if you can bridge the gap from isolated to integrated movements, and if you can incorporate more alternating activities into your training sessions, I think you’ll be light years ahead of the competition.

Now get in the gym and put in some work!

All the best

MR

Complete Core Training System

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To your success,

Kevin Neeld
HockeyTransformation.com
OptimizingMovement.com
UltimateHockeyTraining.com

P.S. Remember, the $50 sale ends this week. If you’re thinking about picking up a copy, now’s the time! Complete Core Training

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“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team

“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He spent the last 7 years as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ, the last 3 of which he was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach and Manual Therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Team. Kevin is in his 5th year as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s National Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey .