Personal trainer, Tavia Ambler
Core strength is vital in AFL. Between 60% and 70% of power can be generated through the trunk; the energy for moving arms and legs comes from the core.
Benefits of a strong core:
• Improves performance, as it translates to improved speed, balance, agility and overall strength.
• Athletes can hold their ground while going for a mark, tackling, kicking a goal or just completing an accurate kick as well as during general running, sprinting and short, sharp movements.
• Can reduce injury risk, decrease the strain on limbs, and provide correct technique and stronger overall stability (eg. reduce twisting, rolled ankles, hyperextension of knees, jarring and back injuries).
• Prone bridge
Forearms and toes on the ground, ensuring entire body is flat and resembles a plank. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
• Lateral bridge
Similar to prone bridge but on your side. Ensure entire body is in line. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute each side.
• Pelvic thrust
Lying on your back with your legs up in the air. Lift through hips so that your bottom raises slightly off the ground, causing the legs to lift up higher. Repeat 20 times.
Angle your back at 45 degrees and lift your feet off the ground. Pointing forward, move both hands from side to side while keeping your core strong. Repeat 30 times.
• Crunch and twist
Start in basic sit-up position, crunch up and twist to the left, back to the centre and then back down. Alternate between both sides. Repeat 20 times.
• Toe crunches
Lie on back with legs straight up in the air. Reach up so that your hands are touching your toes and back down. Repeat 20 times.
• Ab cycle
Lift shoulders and feet off the ground. In a cycle movement bring one knee in, while the opposite shoulder twists towards it, so that the rhythm becomes opposite knee to elbow. Repeat 30 times.
• Ankle touches
Lie flat on your back with feet together. Lift shoulders off the ground and twist so that your hands are coming around the side of the body trying to touch your ankles.
Do these exercises at the end of your AFL training session, because doing it at the start can fatigue your core and increase injury risk. Always remember to keep your stomach strong by pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine and keeping your hips in neutral position. This helps to keep you muscles contracted, thus supporting your body and working the abdominal muscles at all times. This is a fantastic way of strengthening your entire core.