Build Core Strength, Learn Control

Learn how to maintain momentum and control in dynamic transitions with a move borrowed from Pilates: The Rolling Ball. Sage Rountree explains.

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Rolling Like a Ball is a move borrowed from Pilates that helps us transition from reclining to sitting. Beyond this practical application, the move teaches lessons about momentum and control that apply to other dynamic transitions, like the kick up to Handstand, as well as to control of the body in space, whether that’s on the field, the road, or the trail. Include this exercise in your practice to develop the ability to right yourself in shifting situations.

Start on your back, knees hugged in. Tuck your chin toward your chest and curl your spine into a C curve. Try a few gentle rocks forward and back. If this is tough on your back from the outside, add padding under your spine. If, instead, it feels like too much pressure on a particular part of the spine, don’t work any further into this exercise. When you do roll back, go only as far as your shoulders to protect your neck.

Use a breath pattern that works for you—this could mean inhale back, exhale up, or the reverse. When you are comfortable rolling forward and back, try these steps.

1. Balance on your sitting bones. Rocking up, find a still point where you are still in a tight ball, but can pause for a breath or two balanced on the spot between your sitting bones and tailbone. You’ll have to negotiate between using enough momentum to lift you up and enough control to slow you down.


2. Rolling like a Happy Baby. Bend your knees and spread them to shoulder distance, then try rolling back and up to balance again. With this new distribution of weight, you’ll need to work again to find the right balance between momentum and control.

3. Rolling straddle. If your back and hamstrings allow, try straightening your legs into a V straddle, then rolling again. Keep your knees a little bent, so you aren’t too deep into a hamstring stretch, and find the balance point here.

In any of these variations, you’ll be strengthening your core, challenging your balance, and developing the ability to adapt to a change in the placement of your body in space by coming back to a still center point.