Can You Become An Elite Athlete Without Real Core Strength?

Way back in the late 1990's i was working as the strength coach for the St. Bernard's football program. One day, like most days back then, the weight room was full of big, strong kids lifting heavy weights after school.
In came the athletic director, Bernie LeClair, who got everyone's attention and asked if they could do a pushup like him.
He proceeded to lay flat on his stomach, extended his arms out fully in front of him, and pressed himself up to to the top position. This continued for rep after rep.
Our players, not wanting to be shown up by a man in his 50's (and one who was a teacher at their school, too), each got down to try it.
Not one player on our team could do a single rep.
Bernie smiled from ear to ear, and walked out without saying a word.
This past weekend I ran into him at an event. This moment was the first thing we both wanted to talk about.
What he demonstrated that day was elite core strength, something few people truly possess. That was the lesson he was so eager to share with our team.
Did I mention that he was one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, athletes in his school's 100 year history? A 4 sport superstar throughout all 4 years at the school.
Core training is a staple of athlete workout programs these days, much more so than back in the 90's.
Yet it is still rare for a kid who starts up with us, even if they do lots of core work already, to be able to successfully execute one "Bernie Pushup" (later renamed the "B Troy Pushup").
Doing core work excessively does have its benefits, but in many workout programs the key variable is completely missed.
Core training should not revolve around endurance, it should revolve around timing.
Elite core strength comes from your ability to get every muscle that stabilizes your spine to turn on immediately when tension is applied.
Even a delay of a few milliseconds can significantly lower your athletic performance.
When playing a contact sport, it can be the difference between running someone over or getting knocked back.
It creates the stiffness you need when sprinting to get off the ground in less time, helping you to run noticeably faster.
When making cuts, that immediate stiffness helps you change direction with the eye-popping quickness that elite defenders and offensive stars must have.
In short, this is the foundational skill that allows athletes to project all their strength & speed development to their sport.
Games are an endless series of rapid changes in conditions that heavily favor those who can act without delay.
If you are devoting some of your training time to core work, you are on the right track.
Skip the 3 minute plank, or the 100 sit ups, or whatever your core endurance drills are, and move on to timing-based core drills.
The benefits are astronomically higher for your athletic performance.

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