The Effectiveness of Core Stability Training for Volleyball
In this essay, we will evaluate the reasoning as to why core stability training in Volleyball is effective and should be considered from recreational to a competitive level. Firstly, core stability means “holding the center of the body firm to create a stable base from which the limbs can freely move.” (Norris, 2009) The core comprises of the muscles at the center of the body and can be visualized as a firm cylinder surrounding the trunk. (Gambetta 2007) Stabilization exercises minimize excessive loading on the spine by grooving stable motor patterns. Pairing these two definitions together we can define core stability training as an activity that resists movement in the trunk while minimally loading the spine. (Wilardson, 2007 Norris, 2009) Volleyball requires correct technique to use the available force and effect to maximum advantage, to achieve this core stability training for Volleyball is fundamental.
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Volleyball is a sport that requires a lot of jumping and transitioning force into the ball correctly for maximum output. An unstable core which causes poor balance will result in not achieving the desired effect and possible injury. Balance comes from a good core; a strong core equals good balance” (Faries & Greenwood, 2007) If a player did not have the adequate core stability and attempted jumping off one leg to spike a ball transferring their force and then land unbalanced after hitting it, this could have serious implications such as rolling an ankle. According to studies, the knee is the most common ‘victim of core instability’ with respect to lower extremity stability and alignment during athletic movements. (Akuthota, Ferreiro, Moore & Fredericson, 2008) Stability in this context should be considered as an ability to control the position and movement of the core. Thus if the person has greater core stability they have greater control over the position and movement of this area of the body.
By providing effective functional programs and training volleyball specific muscles utilized this ensures that athletes are able to reach their full potential. For example, core strength & stability is vital for a player’s stability and allows hitters to transition power more efficiently from their lower body to their upper body and arm swing. A serve in Volleyball is a perfect example of this. Specifically, core stability enables athletes to control their body position, generate optimum power, and transfer force along the kinetic chain. (S Connors, 2017) “Stability is a measure of the ability to return to return to the desired position following disturbances to the system. Athletes with poor balance are at greater risk at lower limb injuries. (ESTC) So not only does a high level of core stability offer optimal results in terms of raw output, but it also once again reinforces that it is vital to avoid injury for the athlete so they may continue their training to progress. This is reinforced by Withers (2010) who suggests that poor core stability is a leading cause of injury in elite athletes as well as studies that indicate a strong relationship between imbalance and lower body injuries in Volleyball players (Khaleghi, Sadeghi, Shojaadin & Abbasi 2007; Marquez et al., 2007; Verhagen, et al., 2004) Implementation of core stability also results in an increased control of the center of mass. When the center of mass moves away from the base of support the potential for reliance on the lower extremities increase. Through core stability training this would allow an improved ability to control this movement to decrease excessive strain on the lower extremity which could lead to possible injury in the future. (Kilber, et al, 2006)
Core stability is fundamental in rotational movements, especially Volleyball which requires constant hip and shoulder rotation. (S Connors, 2017) By strengthening core stabilizers, athletes can maximize strength in their arms and legs which are used in Volleyball. An example of this could be leaping off one foot to spike a ball and then while airborne, turning the torso and rotating the hips and shoulder to spike diagonally into free space. Core stability has a role to play in these limbs as well (Lawrence, 2003) If the athlete jumped and did not have the correct level of fitness or stability, the shot would not be aimed accurately and would either have too much force or too little resulting in loss of points for the team. Core stability training has become a common practice in competitive sport. (Lawrence, 2003) An example of how core stability training would be useful in Volleyball is training movements on one leg stabilizes the core and legs. Single leg movements also improve ankle strength which assists Volleyball players. However, the main focus of this exercise would be training the body to be stable on one leg. For core stability training to be effective we need to build a training plan with the sport or activity in mind. Otherwise known as functional training. Preparing athletes for a wide variety of postures and external forces that they might encounter in a specific sport, in this case, a training program specifically catered to Volleyball we can make a much more effective program. (Fowles, 2010) An example could be by training the body to be stable on one leg, balance is significantly amplified once you return to both legs and the starting position. By using exercises that strengthen your balance and core stability your force application and overall volleyball game will improve.
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From an opposite perspective if core stability was weak and the athlete was not able to stabilize their center of gravity returning power shots would become extremely difficult to aim back, as well as jumping when tired without a strong core as a solid foundation will lead to an imbalance in force which will cause inaccuracy and possible injury. A perfect example is a defensive position where Volleyball players squat low to return spikes or power shots, this makes good use of the ankle and hip joint. All joints require stability and can benefit from stability exercise. (Norris, 2010) With the added stability will come an improved level of balance for the athlete. This reduces the risk of injury and low back pain. This is achieved through abdominal muscles located around the spine contracting and keeping our posture correct and our bodies aligned during movement while reducing the compression and strain on the spine. This is significant for frequent volleyball players, effective programs which aim to stabilize a core optimally to the sport of volleyball will assist the athlete in distributing their weight correctly to absorb and transfer forces with maximum potential.
The same applies to dynamic balance, dynamic balance is the ability to maintain stability while in motion or in the movement of the body or part of the body from one point to the another in maintaining stability. (Miller, 2006) The stabilization of the pelvis and trunk is necessary for all movement. (Willson, Dougherty, Ireland & Davis, 2005) Thus the core is important because it is defined as the lumbopelvic-hip complex where a person’s center of gravity is located and all movement begins. (Gracovetsy & Farfan, 1986) The key is to control the body’s center of gravity. By keeping the center of gravity between the bases of support the athlete can change direction easier. This is paramount in Volleyball for making feints, rotating the body mid-air and still hitting the ball correctly as well as rapidly changing direction on the ground and diving to prevent the enemy scoring. The most renowned athletes in almost every sport have excellent control over their center of gravity and therefore achieve superior dynamic balance. (Roetert, 2001) We can argue lack of core stability will hinder harmonization of the body and decrease muscular synergy of the trunk and hip stabilizers thus leading to a poor level of movement and compensatory patterns which cause strain and injuries. (Akuthota, Ferreiro, Moore & Fredericson, 2008) This is also reinforced by the explanation of the Serape effect which explains how muscles transfer force between alternate hips and shoulders via the core to drive a volleyball players legs and arms. (Gambetta, 2007)
We can conclude the role that core stability plays in Volleyball and how it’s not only effective for the athlete’s posture and health in terms of avoiding injury and excessive strain. But also to optimize the player’s movement which will give the best possible results Core stability training is also effective because it improves the strength of the hip and trunk muscle which then increases dynamic balance. (Iwamoto, 2009). Core stability is, therefore, a key component in athletic activities which can be heightened by coaches understanding the biomechanics of the sport and applying for a functional training program. We can evaluate that core stability exercises are then proved effective when we are able to reproduce the three-planar motions that are used by the core to accomplish its functions.
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