Athletes use Pilates in sport to :
To reduce the risk of injury
Aid recovery after injury
Improve flexibility and joint mobility
Increase core strength
Increase muscular strength
Improve respiration efficiency and stamina
Help develop specific sport related skills - agility, balance, co-ordination, speed
Top athletes who know first-hand the benefits of Pilates range from golfers likeTiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros and Annika Sorenstam to tennis players old and new like Pat Cash, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport, to the England cricket team ,Andrew Flintoff and Graham Thorpe, being particular fans, Rugby players, football players and rowers including Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell. Skiers Nick Southwell and Snowboarder Johno Verity both use Pilates to improve their balance and performance. All have realized the huge benefits from including Pilates into their training regime.
"Athers suggested I try daily Pilates exercises. He swore by them."
This advice was received by Andrew Flintoff, England fast bowler, from Mike Atherton, former England cricket captain.
The increasing use of Pilates in sport makes perfect sense.
All sports have their own key patterns of movement. Repeated use of these movement patterns, can result in muscular imbalance. Less relevant muscle groups can become weak and inefficient, with the more predominant muscles becoming bulky and tight. Pilates focuses on the muscular skeletal system as a whole aiming to rebalance muscles and improve postural alignment.
A key element of any Pilates training programme is to develop the strength of the deep core abdominal muscles this in turn supports the lower back reducing the risk of injury. Implementing this basic Pilates principles and working from a strong core acts as an essential base for all other training techniques.
To succeed in sport you need both talent and technique. Talent may be something we are naturally blessed with. Technique is acquired through training, coaching and practising specific skills.
However, a key element in sporting success, is called kinaesthetic awareness. This is how we use our body and how we relate to people and space around us. It includes balance, co-ordination, breathing, concentration, relaxation, alignment and flow, these are the principles of Pilates
'The Pilates method of body conditioning is gaining mastery of your mind over the complete control of your body'. Joseph Pilates