Hockey players should train their core, not their abs! [video demo included]

Field Hockey Core Training

Are you still doing situp’s as a way of improving your core?

When I talk about being fit for hockey, unlike a lot of hockey players I don’t just mean the ability to run for 70 minutes. Hockey fitness is also about being strong, fast, agile, powerful, core strength, having mobility & flexibilityrecovering quickly in order to dominate physically on the field.

In hockey, one of the most fundamental aspects of being a physically dominant player is to have a strong core, which is often considered the base of athleticism. Not only that but a strong core can help to prevent injuries and reduce excess strain on other muscle groups.

coreWhat is your core?

The first thing to understand about the core is that it is made up of more than just the abdominals muscles that we see and what is often referred to as the ‘sixpack

The core consists of all the major muscles groups which basically connect your upper body to your lower body including: the obliques, spinal erectors, hip flexors, glutes, etc.

Why you shouldn’t do sit-ups

Exercises like sit-ups would be considered training your abs (not your core) and are not really suitable for hockey players because it can actually cause more harm than good.

This is because sit-ups can hurt your back (especially as most people do them incorrectly).

Another reason is that hockey players tend to have shortened hip flexors (from the position we play) and sit-ups require further shortening of the hip flexors. Too much shortening or tightness in a muscle and what do you get? Injury.


Not just that, but exercises like sit-ups don’t have a great carry onto the hockey field.

This means it is not as productive as many of the other exercises which you could do instead which would be much more effective and more relative to hockey.

Even holding a plank is NOT as effective as most people think, however adding in some movement and trying to be stable by resisting that movement would be much better.

Core versus abs

Ab training generally targets specific isolated muscles using body builder style training whereas improving your core for sports performance trains movements by both restricting force and transferring power which has a much better carry over onto the field.


You could compare training your abs to a ferrari exterior with a VW engine. The core is like the engine of a car which powers everything you do and what makes everything look and feel smooth and easy.

Importance of the core in sport

There are two main uses for your core when it comes to hockey, they are:

1. Core stability

…which is crucial in sport not only in being strong on the ball but also in preventing injury. If you have a weak core, you are at a much higher risk of getting injured. You want to not only improve your core strength but also your stability, which are two different things.

2. Rotational power

…is important in hockey as that is your ability to re-direct or transfer force and power from your lower body while rotating at the shoulders – think of a slap shot for example. A lot of players lose power through low efficiency or because they don’t use or train their core effectively.

Some movements in hockey which require core power:

  • slap2Hit
  • Tomahawk
  • Slap shot
  • Overhead
  • Dragflick
  • Leading
  • Change of direction
  • Getting in front of your player to receive a ball

The video below shows just one of many effective core exercises you could do to build a strong and stable core for hockey.

For a 16 week structured program with over 200 exercises for hockey, designed to improve hockey fitness, strength, power, speed & agility, check out this program:

Complete Fitness For Hockey

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About The Author

Lauren Penny

Lauren is a former International Hockey Player, Performance Coach & Mentor specialising in helping hockey players to be more confident, improve their fitness and perform more consistently to get noticed and reach higher teams.