October 27, 2003
Physical therapist urges basketball players of all ages to cross-train before hitting the court
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
FLOWOOD, Miss.—As the pro basketball season gets into full swing, many young players in the Mississippi are getting ready to hit the court, too.
And as with any fast-paced sport, basketball brings with it the risk of injury. Doctors and therapists at Methodist Rehabilitation Center urge players to spend time preparing off the court, so they can avoid injuries on the court.
“At Methodist we see a lot of ankle, knee and hand injuries during basketball season. These injuries can be caused by not being in good physical condition before the season starts, or it may happen in the heat of the game,” said Peter Schott, physical therapist at Methodist’s outpatient clinic in Flowood. “For example, you may jump up to take a shot and come down on somebody’s foot, throwing you off balance and hurting your ankle.”
Each year, more than 200,000 kids under the age of 15 are treated in emergency rooms for basketball-related injuries, according to figures from Safe USA, an alliance of public and private partners dedicated to reducing the rate of injuries and deaths in the nation’s homes, schools, work sites, transportation areas and communities. While the injuries are usually minor, such as sprains and strains, basketball is the fourth leading cause of injury in organized and unorganized community team sports, Safe USA reports.
A well-rounded training program that includes strength training, endurance, balance and agility exercises and “explosive” exercises will prepare players for the fast pace of basketball, Schott said.
Explosive exercises work the knees and joints, parts of the body that take a pounding on the court. “That would be things like jumping exercises. You have a tall box, you jump up and off the box, to get your knees and legs ready for all the jumping the sport requires. You can also use exercise bands secured at your waist and the floor to give you resistance as you jump,” Schott said. Jumping rope is also a good exercise to prepare the legs.
Don Poole, vice president of operations for the Metropolitan Jackson YMCA, said about 800 children will play basketball at their various branches this season. The kids, ages 5 to 15, will start practice the first of November and begin playing games in the middle of the month.
“The Y has a national program called YMCA Super Sports, and within that curriculum we have break-outs for the various sports,” Poole said. “We focus on the fundamentals and it is specific to each age group. Motor skills for a 5-year-old and a 10-year-old are worlds apart. We help young people develop skills based on what they are capable of.”
The Y also stresses the need to be in good condition before getting on the court.
“Everybody’s anxious to put the ball through the hoop,” Poole said. “But we know they have to build their endurance, their strength and learn the basics—like how to move laterally and how to have a good defensive position.”
Other tips for avoiding injuries this season:
- Before your child starts a training program, take him or her to the doctor for a physical exam.
- Do balance and agility exercises.
- Do eye-hand coordination exercises.
- Warm up and stretch before playing.
- Teach your child not to play through pain.
- If your child is injured, get medical attention and get the doctor’s okay before returning to the court.
- If your child wears eyeglasses talk to your eye doctor about sports eyewear.