The LiveScience headline that reads: With 2.5 Million Injuries, Youth Basketball is a Contact Sport, should be a warning to all coaches and parents alike that there are major risks that come with taking to the court. Most of these injuries are entirely preventable, however, with a little bit of knowledge and preparation. It is entirely possible to guide your entire team through the season safe and injury free.
There are over 1,000,000 high school basketball players, and many more playing in lower grades and youth leagues. This makes basketball one of the most popular youth sports in the United States. When players step onto the court, whether they are scrimmaging or playing a competitive game, they enter a world that involves physical contact. There are body slams, slips, twists and falls. A recent study looked at the number and the type of injuries that high school-age players experienced over six years and found that of the 2.5 million injuries that happened during that period, 1 million were treated court-side or in the locker-room. However, the other 1.5 million, the majority, were treated in emergency rooms.
The most common types of injuries that occur have been catalogued by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Department. They include:
There are also incidents of concussion, head and face wounds, foot and leg breaks, bruising and other head and neck wounds that occur. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can also cause serious, even life threatening, illness. Although these happen less they still occur in numbers significant enough to get the attention of the sports medicine and pediatric communities. (Source).
The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine has a set of recommendations for preventing basketball injuries from occurring in the first place, as well as from becoming exacerbated due to further strain. Those recommendations include:
The University of Rochester Medical Center has some additional recommendations that include:
Additionally, it is important to make sure that shoes and clothing are appropriate and fit well for safety.
In addition to following the recommendations of the experts, you can specifically create a team environment that recognizes and rewards the benefits of being safe. One of the simplest ways to do this is to incorporate conversations about safety and safety rules into your teams’ culture. Make safety a priority. Do equipment and gear checks. Encourage safe play. Challenge the team to get through practices without injury and games without injuries and reward them when they accomplish this.
With every drill and exercise that you put the team through, and every play that you teach them (you can find all you need through Hustle Fitness) talk through how to make it safer and then have them practice the safest way to make it successful.
While this may in the short run slow down progress, over the long haul it will help you develop better players and a more cohesive team that gets through the season without a high level of risk of losing your players due to season-ending injuries.
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