The absence of a universally accepted definition of core stability (CS) is well noted in the scientific literature [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. A number of these publications have proposed a definition, focussing either on function, anatomical constituents of the core or both. Several reviews have questioned and challenged core stability training (CST) for prevention and treatment of back pain [9,10,11] and for improvement of function and performance in healthy and athletic populations [1, 5,6,7, 12,13,14]. There is a view [1, 7] that CST in its current form evolved from clinical research  in the 1990s. The application of a clinical exercise approach in healthy and athletic populations has been criticised, primarily on the basis that teaching an isolated muscle pattern in uninjured athletes is unfounded [6, 10, 16]. Despite this, CST as an intervention spread to all exercise disciplines across clinical, fitness and sports performance settings with significant commercial interest and support .
Most review articles on this topic recognised that the application of traditional CST in healthy and athletic groups lack scientific justification [3, 7, 14, 17]. This resulted in a body of research investigating CST in healthy populations [18,19,20,21,22] along with aforementioned review articles [1, 6, 7, 12,13,14]. Reviewers have noted that research cannot progress this topic effectively until there is a standardised agreement on the anatomical structure and function of the core [1, 6, 7]. A further limitation reported by most reviewers is the absence of a valid and reliable test of core function [1, 12]. As a result most research on the topic is methodologically limited [12, 13] and therefore ineffective in confirming or challenging the concept and practice of CST for health and performance. A case has been made in the literature for a more functional definition of anatomy of the core, applicable to healthy and athletic populations [1, 8]. Similarly, it is proposed that the description of core function is revised to encompass normal healthy and athletic human movement .
Several comprehensive reviews over the last decade have examined the research on the effectiveness of various CST methods for athletic performance [1, 6, 7, 12,13,14]. Reviews covered the variations in CST including instability training, trunk rotation exercises, functional training and exercise intensity. Martuscello et al. proposed a five core exercise classification system based on their review of the research . The categories were traditional core exercise (sit-ups), core stability exercises (isometric plank), ball or device exercises (stability ball), free weight exercise (squat and deadlift) and noncore free weight exercise (upper body). In a recent study conducted in an applied performance sport setting, Spencer et al. proposed a comprehensive spinal exercise classification . The classification incorporated static and dynamic exercises that were either functional or non-functional according to spinal displacement across four physical outcomes: mobility, motor control, work capacity and strength. Both studies [2, 6] clarify the range and nature of core stability exercises used in the literature and practice; however, there is concern that many core stability intervention studies are diluted by other exercises and activities preventing a clear assessment of impact of CST [7, 12, 13]. Furthermore, in athletic populations, a reductionist approach or selective activation to improve integrated function is unsubstantiated [1, 2, 7, 12].
The proposed protection against injury and improved athletic performance from CST has been the subject of many research studies and review papers. Silfies et al. concluded that following a review of 11 studies, there was limited evidence to support the use of CST to prevent upper extremity injury and improve athletic performance . The authors questioned whether performance in core stability tests reflected physical or athletic capability and level of conditioning, rather than solely core stabilization. Tests included the isometric front and side bridge, single-leg raise , star excursion test  and closed kinetic chain upper extremity stability test . A systematic review conducted by Prieske et al.  concluded that CST compared with no training or regular sports-specific training does improve trunk muscle strength measured predominantly by isometric plank. However, increases in trunk muscle strength only had a small effect on physical fitness and athletic performance measures in trained individuals. CST compared to alternative physical training methods in trained individuals had little impact on trunk muscle strength, physical fitness and athletic performance measures. Both studies strongly suggest that high levels of general fitness are associated with better performance in CS tests and therefore a lower risk of injury and better athletic performance test scores [3, 12].
Separating the core into smaller local and larger global muscles has little bearing on core stability for dynamic movement in healthy people. In Lederman’s  words, this is an anatomical classification with no functional relevance. The role the core plays in stabilising the body is dynamic and responsive to many postural challenges that occur in normal movement and complex, reactive environment of sport . The concepts of core strength and core stability have been reviewed the literature [1, 5, 23]. Whether these are separate attributes  or whether core strength is required for core stability  remain unresolved questions . In this context, core stability is an integrated, functional motor task [7, 24] and training should reflect this according to movement patterns [14, 24], forces [7, 24] and torque and velocity [8, 24].
A limitation identified by Prieske et al.  was the lack of validity of tests used in most of the research. Trunk muscle strength in most studies was measured by timed isometric test (prone bridge) which, firstly, does not reflect force and velocity of movement of dynamic athletic activity . Secondly, CST programmes in many of the studies incorporated prone plank or similar isometric exercises in the exercise intervention, which rendered timed isometric prone plank an inappropriate test of trunk muscle strength in these cases. Most reviews conclude there is not a valid method of measuring the effect of CST on trunk muscle strength within the context of improving dynamic athletic performance [1, 13, 14, 17, 25, 26]. As a result, many researchers have resorted to using conventional performance tests such as countermovement jump and sprint tests [12, 13, 27].
The first three levels of Martuscello’s  core exercise classification system appear to contravene the established overload training principle  when applied to an athletic population. Traditional low load core exercises, minimal range or isometric core stability exercises and ball/device exercises are all characterised by low force, low velocity and restricted range of movement. Hence, these do not represent training overload in preparation for activities that characterise most sports and athletic events. Researchers have begun to investigate trunk muscle activation in a number of dynamic, loaded free weight exercises to determine their suitability for the development of dynamic trunk strength and stability [29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37]. Surface electromyography methodology shows there is good evidence that loaded exercises performed in a standing position are an effective method of overloading the trunk stabilization system in a dynamic manner. While several reviewers recognise this development [6, 7, 14], it is best summarised by Wirth et al. (2016), ‘… we recommend the use of classical strength-training exercises as these provide the necessary stimuli to induce the desired adaptations.’
The flawed foundations of CST for dynamic athletic performance have been exposed in the scientific literature. Research is underway to better understand the most effective training methods for the development of trunk stability. The aim of this survey is to assess the current perspectives of CST in the applied sports setting to determine how well scientific literature informs these opinions. Our hypothesis is that opinions of those who work and participate in sport will reflect scientific debate on key core stability training topics.