The holidays are over, and children will resume school and sports as the winter continues. How can you help ensure your kid is playing safe on the court? Basketball is not a contact-free sport, and when an indoor court is available kids may practice all year round, increasing the chance of repetitive use injury.
These tips can improve your young athlete’s game and help them stay healthy and injury free, whether they are shooting a friendly game of hoops after school or competing seriously. A basketball and a hoop aren’t the only equipment needed for a safe game of basketball. Also required are:
- A safe playing surface. While a hoop can be installed almost anywhere, making sure the ground is solid and safe for play should be a consideration. A driveway is often the most logical place, but make sure there are no curbs or drop-offs that can cause a player to stumble or fall, and always check or debris or broken glass before a game begins. Indoor courts should be carefully maintained for safe play, and both venues should be well lit.
- Appropriate, breathable attire. In winter, it’s easy to overheat then get muscle cramps due to sweaty bodies becoming chilled in cold air. Make sure layers and a towel are available if kids are playing outside, or that a change of clothes is available to change into before leaving an indoor court.
- A good, solid pair of shoes with non-skid soles and ankle support. One of the most common basketball injuries is a strain or sprain of the ankle, so protecting vulnerable young joints should be a priority.
- Protective gear. Adding items such as a good athletic bra for girls, a cup for boys, and mouth guards for both can help provide extra protection against injury. Compression shorts may also be needed if the player has a history of issues with their legs, and knee, ankle, or wrist braces can be added after an injury to add protection during the healing phase.
- Medical care. Don’t encourage kids to “play through the pain” if they get hurt on the court – this can lead to more serious injury. The team should have a medical professional on staff, and it is a good idea to have an orthopaedic specialist as an option if your child plays any kind of sports.
- Warm-up and stretching routines. Many injuries can be avoided with an appropriate warm-up and cool-down plan that includes stretching all muscles and tendons before play. At least ten minutes of warm-up time should be expected before playing any type of sport.
Following these safety tips can help your child have a fun, safe experience during basketball season. If your child plays competitively, make sure that they don’t overdo it, and encourage an off-season filled with a different kind of athletic activity to keep them fit and avoid overuse injuries. If your child experiences ongoing pain or soreness, ask Dr. Strasburger for a consultation to help prevent serious injury.