Contemporary perspectives of core stability training for dynamic athletic performance: a survey of athletes, coaches, sports science and sports medicine practitioners

Journal Article


Journal Title

Sports Medicine

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Springer International Publishing


University of Cape Town

Background Core stability training has grown in popularity over 25 years, initially for back pain prevention or therapy. Subsequently, it developed as a mode of exercise training for health, fitness and sport. The scientific basis for traditional core stability exercise has recently been questioned and challenged, especially in relation to dynamic athletic performance. Reviews have called for clarity on what constitutes anatomy and function of the core, especially in healthy and uninjured people. Clinical research suggests that traditional core stability training is inappropriate for development of fitness for heath and sports performance. However, commonly used methods of measuring core stability in research do not reflect functional nature of core stability in uninjured, healthy and athletic populations. Recent reviews have proposed a more dynamic, whole body approach to training core stabilization, and research has begun to measure and report efficacy of these modes training. The purpose of this study was to assess extent to which these developments have informed people currently working and participating in sport. Methods An online survey questionnaire was developed around common themes on core stability training as defined in the current scientific literature and circulated to a sample population of people working and participating in sport. Survey results were assessed against key elements of the current scientific debate. Results Perceptions on anatomy and function of the core were gathered from a representative cohort of athletes, coaches, sports science and sports medicine practitioners (n = 241), along with their views on effectiveness of various current and traditional exercise training modes. Most popular method of testing and measuring core function was subjective assessment through observation (43%), while a quarter (22%) believed there was no effective method of measurement. Perceptions of people in sport reflect the scientific debate, and practitioners have adopted a more functional approach to core stability training. There was strong support for loaded, compound exercises performed upright, compared to moderate support for traditional core stability exercises. Half of the participants (50%) in the survey, however, still support a traditional isolation core stability training. Conclusion Perceptions in applied practice on core stability training for dynamic athletic performance are aligned to a large extent to the scientific literature.