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Why core strength is a player's biggest weakness and how to fix it

Updated: May 2, 2022

I’m on a mission - I’ve had enough!

I want, no make that, NEED every rugby player to start including core strength exercises into their weekly training sessions.

Hands down the most common weakness I see in young athletes is a lack of core strength. At every Explosive Speed Clinic I conduct, I’m shocked that core strength in the athletes is almost always non-existent. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not their fault if they haven’t been told yet. But after my clinic, if you still have a weak core… well, you’re setting yourself up for a slow performance on field.

A strong core is necessary to scrum, tackle, ruck, wrestle, change direction and sprint. I’m sure you’d agree with me that these skills are essential to being the best player that you can be. So why aren’t young athletes developing their core to enable them to undertake these skills with ease?

This is very concerning to me, because I cannot understand why coaches aren’t including it in general training sessions. Perhaps they are, and maybe it is a case of the young athletes not taking it seriously enough. I am here today to tell you how serious a strong core is if you want to succeed in rugby.

Here’s another reason. A strong core allows you to generate maximum force. With rugby being a contact sport, you need to be able to produce brute force within your body, and against the opposition. You can have big arms like David Pocock, and strong legs like Marty Taupau but these will mean nothing if you have a weak core. Why? It’s simple.

Your core is what transfers force to your limbs.

Yes, you read that right – your core is what will enable those big strong arms and legs to work explosively. If your core is weak, who cares about your arms and legs. I certainly don’t. Because you need a strong core to build speed as well, and that’s what I’m all about – being the fastest and most explosive player you can be.

With core strength being the most common weakness in rugby players, it tells me one thing.

What’s that, you ask?

Core strength exercises aren’t being included at training sessions, or if they are, they aren’t being conducted with proper technique or under optimal conditions. I know I’m getting fairly riled up, but for the life of me, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t include them considering you need a strong core to perform almost every movement on the rugby field. Coaches need to know this.

Let’s discuss what a strong core is going to do to your on-field rugby performance?


Did you know that a strong core will make you a faster rugby player? Your core muscle holds your torso upright and reduces swaying when sprinting (swaying slows you down). It allows your hips, pelvis and lower back to work together smoothly.


What’s the first thing that happens when you get ankle-tapped or pumped in a tackle?

You lose your balance.

A strong core allows you to gain back your centre of gravity quicker so that you can hold or regain balance quickly and take off again. When it comes to change of direction your body is moving in one direction then all of a sudden need to move in another direction. A strong core allows you to gain control of your upper and lower body so that both your upper and lower body change direction efficiently and fluidly.


Force is king when it comes to Rugby. When sprinting you generate force by making contact with the ground. When your foot strikes the ground, the force runs through your legs, through your core and all the way to your upper body. A strong core will allow this force to transfer fluently from your legs to your upper body resulting in max force and when you make contact with a defender hopefully breaking through that tackle. A weak core will dissolve that force resulting in a reduction of force transferred to your upper body resulting in weak contact with a defender. Not only is core strength important for sprinting, but when tacking as well, as you need to be able to generate force in your upper body, then onto your opponent to make an efficient tackle.


When training your core, your lower back also gets stronger making you less likely to suffer injury and back pain. Core strength is so important in a contact sport like Rugby especially when it is such a hard-contact sport - falling to the ground and absorbing force from being tackled. A strong core is going to allow your body to take those big hits and be able to bounce back.

So, if you’re not already, you need to start introducing core strength exercises into your training sessions. I cannot stress it enough!!! Should I yell?


To get started, it takes no longer than 5 minutes and the best thing about core strength exercises is that you can do them anywhere.

As you now know, core strength is one of the keys to improving your speed and that is why my online speed programs come with a core strength program that maps out the exact core exercises, sets and reps that you need to be doing to improve your child's speed.


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