Baseball is a three-dimensional sport, but the majority of strength and conditioning coaches seem to gravitate to a sagittal plane dominant regimen while ignoring the frontal and transverse planes drastically.
The more we can train our core in all three planes of motion, the easier it is to handle the stress that throwing a baseball/swinging a bat puts on our bodies.
In baseball, the body must create, absorb, direct and decelerate energy in all three planes of motion. Being able to achieve this task should allow for a longer and more prosperous career.
Most conventional exercises like crunches, supermans and other ground-based exercises are sagittal plane dominant. We need to broaden our approach and start training with a three dimensional approach that replicates baseball activities.
The primary function of the core is to facilitate motion between the pelvis and the upper body. This includes accelerating and decelerating motion in all three planes on each side of the body simultaneously.
There are various ways to turn on abdominals. For my money, the core reacts best to lengthening or stretching to become stimulated.
A muscle must load eccentrically before it can explode or concentrically contract.
Lengthening our muscles stimulates proprioceptors which are located within our muscles and tendons and give our bodies feedback regarding muscle tension, muscle length, and movement/pressure. The more proprioception that is achieved during a movement, the more dynamic and beneficial the movement becomes.
By using an arm driver, the athlete can take advantage of gravity, ground reaction forces, mass, and momentum to create a chain reaction throughout the body. These types of chain reactions help strengthen and prepare the body for the stresses that the game of baseball demands to play it.
Here are some examples of standard plank variations utilizing these principles. By using your arm as a driver, you can create rhythmic eccentric and concentric contractions. Be sure to include this three-dimensional staple for your workouts moving forward.