The sport of basketball has evolved over time from a game famously first played with a peach basket, into the fast paced, physical game we know today. With the speed, physicality and start and stop nature of basketball, injuries have simply become an unfortunate part of the game. In recent years, we've even seen some of the sports biggest stars suffer season ending injuries. Even with new rules to help protect players, the sharp cuts and explosive motions that make basketball so entertaining, can also lead to almost unavoidable non-contact injuries. As with any sport, injuries are always a possibility but with a few simple steps and precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk for any basketball related injuries.
Court and Equipment
Players don't always have an option when it comes to the court or playing surfaces available to them. It's the coach’s responsibility to ensure the court is clean and the baseline is clear of any equipment. There's no excuse for a player rolling an ankle due to a slick floor or equipment that could have been moved out of the way. It's also important to make sure that outdoor courts are cared for and cleared of any sand or potentially dangerous materials as well.
Basketball shoes that offer good traction and support should be worn at all times. Tennis shoes simply do not provide the stability needed for the game of basketball. Ankle braces should also be worn at all times as a preventative measure, not only after an ankle injury has occurred.
These tips might sound like common sense but we know from experience that young athletes with a passion for the game of basketball will play in almost any conditions. Also, braces and other protective gear can be an annoyance or considered unfashionable but it's important to remember that they do work in preventing injuries.
Practice and Game Preparation
A proper warm up routine is also essential to preventing injuries. It’s no secret that muscles that have not been properly warmed up and stretched are far more susceptible to injury. Players should be allowed a sufficient amount of time to stretch and slowly work up to game speed in the pre-game routine.
Parents and coaches must also manage the minutes and tempo of a young athletes practice. These days, basketball season lasts 365 days a year with AAU tournaments, leagues and summer camps. Hard work and dedication is always appreciated but the constant stress on the body can lead to overuse injuries. It's important to encourage a mixture of physical activities and allow for the appropriate rest.
When practice is in session, players should once again always participate in drills at game speed. Not only is this necessary to improve a young athletes game but also reduce the shock and help adjust to game situations. Not being properly prepared for the change in speed from practice to game can lead to issues with technique and only increase the chances of injury.
Basketball is an extremely competitive sport but it can also be one of the most enjoyable for athletes of all ages. As with any sport, the risk of injury should not be something that deters athletes from the game but rather encourages the proper techniques and training. Not only will this create a safer experience but also help improve the player’s game.