Is a Strong Core Important for Young Athletes?

By Dr. Lev Kalika

Learning how to build core strength is essential for children involved in sports. While many people think of core strength exercises as a way to look good, it’s actually something essential for almost all sports moves. Young athletes who improve their core strength in their abdomen, obliques, and back muscles will achieve more power, and have better results on the field and court. While many coaches focus on sit-ups as primary core strength exercises, there are actually a lot of other wonderful techniques available.

What Exactly is the Core?

Standing up straight and looking in a mirror, it’s easy to quickly identify the core as this term refers to the groups of muscles that emanate from your torso. Starting just above the hip and continuing to below the rib cage, this is where core strength comes from. The so-called six pack area in the front is often referred to the rectus abdominus muscles. The muscles on the side of the stomach are called the obliques. In your back, there are also several muscle groups that play an important role in core strength.

Sports moves start with the feet, and then move upwards in a continuing action that scientists call the kinetic chain. When a young sportsman is throwing a ball, the kinetic chain begins at the feet and then travels upwards through the core, transferring the energy to the arm and the ball. When a young athlete fails to learn how to build core strength, this can cause a loss of power in other parts of the body. If an athlete tries to throw a ball too hard and lacks core strength, this can cause them to overthrow the ball, resulting in injuries. Sometimes pain in one part of the body is the direct result of a weak core.

More Benefits of a Powerful Core

Athletes with a well-developed core will have better stability and posture. When an athlete has a strong back, they will have improved endurance. If we look at players towards the end of a game or match, it’s easy to see just by their posture how tired they are. A powerful core allows a player to stand taller, giving them better opportunities to catch balls. A well-developed core also helps transfer energy more efficiently, allowing their legs to deliver more power for running and kicking balls.

A healthy core is also a great way to improve coordination. The core works to coordinate the upper and lower halves of the body, critical for aiming and focusing ball control.

When an athlete’s core is healthy and strong, this will also help minimize and reduce the chances of becoming injured. Some of the muscles in the core connect directly to the central nervous system, which protect people by warning of impending injuries. When an athletes has a strong back, they will not only will suffer less from back injuries, but will also better protect the leg and thigh muscles, which can easily be damaged in vigorous sports play.

Core Exercises

While sit-ups are a great place to start, it is important to add a variety of exercises to improve core strength. Most of these exercises take just 5-10 minutes, and can be performed easily on a daily basis. Some of these exercises look easy, but require tremendous muscle power to do enthusiastically through the full set of repetitions. If the core is not sufficiently developed, it’s important to space out the exercises so that the person donesn’t ‘overextend themself.

A few excellent core strength exercises:




Reverse crunches


Hip/butt raises

Bicycle kicks

Russian twists


Dr. Lev Kalika



  • Doctor of Chiropractic from National College of Chiropractic, Chicago, Ill BS – Brooklyn College, New York, NY
  • Metchnikov Medical University, Odessa, Ukraine
  • 1997-1998 – Fellowship in Manual Medicine in Motol Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic under prof. Karel Lewit M.D
  • Vojta therapy certified from 2002-2003.

Dr. Kalika is currently certified and is a member of:

  • AIUM (American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine);
  • Active member of ISMST (International Society of Extra Corporeal Shockwave Therapy);
  • Active member of GCMAS (Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis Society);
  • Active member of NASS (North American Spine Society);
  • National Orthopedic Institute (Kiev, Ukraine);
  • Active member of IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine and Science);
  • Active member of Virtual Rehabilitation Society;
  • Over hundred postgraduate courses in the field of back pain, sports medicine, gait and neuromuscular, neurological and orthopedic rehabilitation.

For more information visit

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