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Coach's Playbook

MAY 10 2018

Basketball Safety and Common Injury Tips

Playing basketball is a great way to get a whole-body workout while having fun and learning about teamwork and discipline but as a contact sport, it can often result in injuries. Falls, awkward landings, contact with other players, impact by the ball or abrupt changes in direction can lead to ankle sprains, knee and foot fractures, jammed fingers, facial cuts and bruising. Fortunately, with the proper technique and equipment, you can prevent these and still enjoy a challenging and safe game.


    Studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury so one of the most important basketball safety tips is warming up before the game. Warm up with jumping jacks, running or walking in place for 3-5 minutes, then slowly stretch, holding each stretch for half a minute. Make sure to cool down and stretch after playing, too – it will help your muscles recover more quickly.

    Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to hydrate as well. Heat-related illness and dehydration are common risks associated with playing basketball, especially if you play on hot days or on a sunny outdoor court. It’s generally a good idea to also take some time off to recover and minimize the chance of suffering an overuse injury. These are most common in higher level players due to the intensity and duration of play; as a rule of thumb, take at least one season off each year and make sure you prepare adequately before each game.

    To prevent some of the most common basketball injuries like foot fractures and ankle sprains, invest in quality equipment. Basketball sneakers should fit snugly and be non-skid; if you’ve suffered a previous ankle sprain or just want to have increased ankle support, go with high-top sneakers (otherwise, low-top shoes designed for basketball should suffice). Consider getting protecting knee and elbow pads – these can go a long way against bruises and abrasions.

    The mouth guard is an often neglected piece of basketball equipment but it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of basketball injuries. A custom-fitted mouth guard can protect you against broken teeth and injuries to the mouth.

    Last but not least, to ensure the game is safe and fun for everyone, including yourself, focus on technique. Play only your position and know where your teammates and opponents are on the court to reduce the chance of accidental collisions. Avoid direct contact with opponents (we don’t need to tell you not to block, push or charge them) and use proper techniques for passing and scoring.

    On a final note, listen to your body – if you feel tired, don’t be embarrassed to take a breather, and always communicate any physical concerns you have to your coach.


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