The Power of the Pillar: Pilates Training for Movement in Athletes

By MacKenzie Jackson

Pilates & Sports Performance 

Pilates is a gentle, low impact form of resistance training with an emphasis on flexibility, mobility and core strength. It tailors to every individual and their abilities. Due to the extremely high demands on core neural recruitment during movement, pilates is an imperative tool in the athlete toolbox. 

Why is Pilates Important?

The extensive benefits include increased flexibility, body control, joint stability, increased core strength, proper pelvic alignment, improved balance and improved mental health. 

Trunk and hip stability can be very beneficial for any spot. A strong core can help balance an athlete that is thrown off kilter during contact such as football or soccer. During a game, it can help create body control and improve proprioception, an awareness of where your body is in time and space. Learning to control one's body is very difficult for young athletes. Once an athlete is able to control their body, they are able to control themselves in unexpected situations such as during contact in sport. This can be very beneficial in injury prevention.

Baseball and Pilates

Every baseball pitcher should be doing advanced core training on a regular basis. Flexibility and mobility is very important for baseball pitchers shoulders and hips. Shoulder range of motion decreases with time as pitching is not a natural motion. It's very important to keep the glenohumeral joint mobile but strong. Eve's lunge and hip circles are great exercises on the reformer to increase flexibility in the hips. Rhomboids on the reformer is an excellent exercise to strengthen the upper back for external rotation of the shoulder to keep the joint strong.

Jake Arrieta, the pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, swears by Pilates and its benefits. He says, "What I noticed from Pilates last year was that I have much better control of my body. I repeat my delivery consistently. My balance is much improved. And the mental and physical toughness Pilates requires to complete movements the correct way have directly helped me on the mound” (Knowlton, 2016).

Golf and Pilates

Pilates is a great tool to improve one's golf swing. The emphasis on core strength can improve hip rotation and shoulder range of motion to generate a more consistent, powerful swing. There are lots of exercises in the transverse plane that help strengthen the core and dissociate the lower half from the upper half. Learning lower body dissociation is very important and hard to learn. It is the key to generate energy in one's swing.

Hockey and Pilates

Hockey is a difficult sport that puts a lot of stress on the body. Many hockey players have back and hip problems as they put themselves in unique positions to change direction. They need to be very agile. The core emphasis from Pilates would help decrease their back pain. I would also recommend a lot of hip mobility exercises and exercises to strengthen the glutes and help decrease the back pain.

Football and Pilates

Pilates is a great tool for football players to improve trunk stability and prevent injuries. Pilates helps improve balance and muscle control

which is very important in a contact sport. It challenges the body in a way most athletes are not used to. Johnson Bademosi, from the Cleveland Browns, said, “I’ve been training for football for 10 years, and the first time I tried Pilates, I felt like a child—I was really struggling” (Men's Journal, 2018).

Injury Prevention

Pilates is a great injury prevention tool. Strengthening the core can help prevent back injuries. Having a strong pillar takes the stress off the rest of the body. The springs are gentle resistance to increase muscle strength which increases joint stability. It also offers a variety of exercises to work muscles that are sometimes forgotten. This can help with muscle overuse and fatigue.


Pilates is a great tool to improve sports performance and prevent injuries. A strong pillar prevents the rest of the structure from crumbling and allows the remainder of the system to prosper. Pilates is not only beneficial for all types of athletes but other individuals as well. It is a great tool to supplement in conjunction with sports specific performance training. Elite Speed is proud to offer various training modalities of all sorts to meet all athletes needs.