Oh yay, the core, when people reference the core, it might be under the assumption of the earth’s center. While that might be partially true, the core would be the center of a human being! Yes, the core workouts that people do not only make this a stronger muscle, it also develops that person’s power, control, and other additional benefits. Throughout this article, we shall cover what the core is, what makes it stronger, and how it relates to kicking. So if you are standing for whatever reason, sit back, relax and enjoyyyyyy.
What Is The Core?
The core of your body consists of many muscles that when together, make the body more efficient, in control and stronger overall. While I am not a doctor, I shall do my best to explain the important core muscles.
There are the muscles everyone sees; the Rectus Abdominis. Then, there are the muscles under those that make your stomach pop more; Transverse Abdominis. On the sides, the obliques make your balance better when in kicking position. When a kicker leans, they need to balance out far enough away from the ball in order to generate any sort of power.
Through proper body positioning and balance, the sweet spot gets hit consistently. Through having great ball contact with consistency, that results in more made field goals.
More made field goals mean a happier kicking coach (if you have one) and a better shot at a school record, or even the NFL scouting you. This ties back into a great core. This graph below shows all the muscles I would not be able to pronounce so please enjoy it.
Workouts simply mean dedicating time to the day to get better at something by exerting physical effort. The people who have the greatest on the field kicking performances result from 2 things; either they are genetically gifted (3.1% of the NFL kickers or simply 1/32) or they just work really really really really really hard at their craft.
If anyone does a quick google search on the undrafted kickers, they put in an absurd amount of time in the weight room. One such example of an undrafted kicker/punter that put in his due diligence in the weight room; Steve Weatherford. He probably lives there, to be honest.
His leg workouts alone are longer and more intense in a day than some players are in a whole week. He needs to be a character everyone follows on social media. Some of his posts may or may not make you want to run headfirst into a wall.
Let us be honest, most of the times, we are sitting at home on the couch binging Netflix after a tough day. Or in the morning, our ritual is to watch an hour of tv before starting the day. Take that energy when you do not know how to express yourself and get active! Far too often we get down on ourselves by not being where we want to be in life when it can boil down to the simple things in life.
The Four Burners of Life
We can relate life to 4 “burners” Health, Family, Friends, Work. Typically, one, two, or even three of the burners are low or completely off. It becomes a constant battle to keep all the burners blasting fully all the time. There are moments when it becomes too much in one area, and we have to refocus.
It starts to be a struggle when we want to do so well in all areas of life. Eventually, our focus shifts more than it should into the area we think needs the most attention. Gradually, that burner grows and grows in heat until the others start running out of flame.
Keep your balance in check, please!!! There is nothing wrong with letting one go low for a while in order to refocus and come back stronger than ever. That being said, we will post an article about the 4 burners soon. We just want to get the readers to start thinking bigger than growing only one area of life.
Tangents make the world go ’round if you did not notice. We have to keep the readers on their toes so c’mon!
Anywayyyy, when dealing with core workouts, there are many gurus that claim this that or the other needs to be the focus of the exercise routine. While many different exercises help for many different things, Pilates has shown that it gives kickers and punters the most bang for their buck. In a brief description, “In his book Return to Life through Contrology, Joseph Pilates presents his method as the art of controlled movements, which should look and feel like a workout (not a therapy) when properly manifested.
If practiced with consistency, Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body.” (Wikipedia shame on me right) They said it best as to what Pilates really does. Through controlling the movements through various core workouts, a kicker and punter get strong, flexible, and have control of their body.
Core Workouts Continued
Control equals power as most kicking mentors will mention. The benefits of Pilates are incredible. From Betterhealth.com, Below are some of the benefits of Pilates, some of which we have gone over, we just want to hammer the point home.
- improved flexibility and stretching
- increased muscle strength and tone, particularly of your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks (the ‘core muscles’ of your body)
- balanced muscular strength on both sides of your body
- enhanced muscular control of your back and limbs
- improved stabilization of your spine
- improved posture
- rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances
- improved physical coordination and balance
- relaxation of your shoulders, neck and upper back
- safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries
- prevention of musculature injuries
- increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
- improved concentration
- increased body awareness
- stress management and relaxation.
Should Core Workouts Only Be For The Stomach?
Great question billy, no, core workouts go much farther than simple crunches. When a kicker does a workout, the objective should be to focus on the functional movements. This way, the kicker does not go in to the gym do some squats and go home. The focus should be on movements that relate to the kicking motion. Even it does not resemble the kicking motion, one that simulates multiple muscle groups keeps the workouts effective and worth it.
Core Workouts Using a Pull Up Bar
The pull-up bar remains a great way to develop real core strength since there are no supportive elements to help out.
A great core workout for kickers; the hanging leg raise. Get your pen and paper, this workout gets complex. Go to the nearest pull-up bar, or anything to hang on that is sturdy. Now with the feet together and straight, raise them all the way to the bar. This would be the advanced version. The intermediate is to raise the legs to hip height. The beginner version starts by keeping the feet together still, but simply raise the knees to hip height or chest if you want to get wild and crazy.
Core Workouts With a Pull-up Bar Continued
The pull-up bar challenges the body to use the whole core and all of its strength. So making the core as strong as possible becomes an important matter for getting better at any other lift. When the core gets stronger, other workouts get easier as well.
Another Pull-up bar workout starts by holding the legs at hip height. With a strong core, keep the legs straight out in front. Also, when the legs are straight out, either move the legs vertically or horizontally like a scissor. This way, the muscle groups get hit intensely. Consistently hitting the muscles in variations is how growth happens.
Core Workouts With a Yoga Ballllllllllllll
The next fun core workout or exercise starts by getting a yoga ball, get in a pushup position, point the toes, and place them on the top of the ball. Now the simple way to do this exercise; start with the legs together, raise the knees to the chest, and then go back to the starting position. This exercise targets the stabilizer muscles so when the kicker gets into the ready position for kickoffs or field goals, the muscles are prepared for the movement.
The variation to the yoga ball exercise above is to only bring one leg to the chest while the other hovers over the ball. Then after both sides have been hit, bring both legs to the chest. Again, by adding variation to the exercise, the body does not have adequate time to adapt to the movements. As a result, the body becomes stronger as it adapts to the harder and harder exercises.
Core Workouts With a Yoga Ballllllllllllll Continued
Another exercise to challenge the core using a yoga ball starts by laying on the back. Holding the ball in the arms raised above the head, move the legs towards the ball. Grab the ball with the legs, and with the ball now in the legs, lower it 6 inches above the ground and repeat. This becomes a weighted V-UP. The important thing for this exercise, earlier we spoke about using the core in Pilates. The yoga ball v-up is no different. Keep hips in and keep the core tight and make sure the form stays good. It is better to do the exercise perfect 10 times than 100 times the wrong way.
Using The Core For a Kick
I hope it is understood that the core is a vital part of any kick. Having a grasp of how to use the core to work for you will become an incredible tool. There have been professional kickers who use their core so well, it gets to be obvious that they do lots of core workouts. What do we mean by this? The kickers with a low back swing means their hips are in the right spot. This allows for maximum power and accuracy as they hit the ball.
The important part of kicking comes down to the little things. Body positioning is an integral part of making kicks at an 80% rate. When the nerves are so high a kicker cannot think, they have to rely on their fundamentals. That means their training on how their body is at contact, and keeping it simple become fundamental things for a lot of kickers to know in order to make their kick almost automatically.
When simplicity meets power, that becomes a conversation of professional status.
How To Use The Core During The Kick
- Exercise helps the body understand how to work in stressful environments, the harder you push yourself in the weight room, the tougher the body gets
- Engaging the core pre-kick
- Use the core to feel your weaknesses
- The core should be acting like a whip as the kicker plants their foot, the core should be tight and stable
Some of these points are hard to grasp in a bullet point so we will definitely cover them.
Using the Core During The Kick Continued
Firstly, the weight room builds the body, the field uses that growth to exploit it and prove that the hard work is paying off. By engaging the core, the body understands that it should be embracing for some type of action. When the kick happens, the kicker already has control of his or her body so the ball should have a more consistent result. Also, when the core gets weak, the body starts to breakdown and the kick as a result, looks the same.
The core acting as a whip gets to be complicated. The best way we can explain it; imagine the body as a series of levers and pulleys. The core keeps everything together so the body can work for you and not against you. So imagine when we kick a ball, our butt sticks out, our core becomes disengaged, and the ball loses 5-10 yards. Since our body does not work in unison, the core actually hurts us more than it helps us.
How do we solve this problem of utilizing the core during the kick?
When the kicker gets in the ready stance, get the core to engage, as they approach the ball, make sure it remains tight, and afterward it can become loose. This way, the hips activate allowing for maximal whip action. Again, the best kickers make their bodywork for them and not against them. The core has always been such a crucial part of kicking, only now are people starting to uncover its potential.
Final Tips for the Core Workouts
- Keep stretching the core
- Use it to have good posture
- Strengthen it, and it should reduce injury
- Find ways to continue to challenge it as time progresses
The beauty of the core, people always need more. Now that you have learned some great ways to implement it into your day, share this with a friend who might know another kicker. Eventually, everyone will know that the legs are an important part of the kick, but the core might be the most important. Rock on friends, ’till next time. If you enjoyed reading this article, please share this so we can continue to grow! Also, if you have any suggestions for what we should write about next, let us know!
Thanks for reading and stay amazing!