Knee and ankle injuries are common in youth basketball and other sports. Poor motion and control in sport-specific movements can increase the risk of these injuries. Proper warm-up before you hit the court can help you prevent these injuries.
The Warm Up the RITE Way exercises for Hoop Camp and Development Camp were developed with the age and skills (beginner and advanced) of the athletes in mind. The exercises engage important muscle groups that should be active during play, therefore these exercises should be performed before any plans to hit the court. With time, the exercises can be progressed to be more difficult, but only after mastering the basic movements.
Some injuries happen suddenly, others happen over a period of time. Risk of both of these can be reduced. Studies have suggested that 65-85% of basketball injuries in young athletes are related to overuse. Learn more about overuse injuries and how to prevent them.
Scottish Rite Knee Injury Prevention
Research is showing that athletes are more successful and experience fewer injuries when they play multiple sports. Specialization often leads to training multiple days in a row and competing year round without breaks, these have shown to cause overuse injuries and lead to early burnout. Mix in other sports to encourage diversity of skills and athleticism and keep the focus on fun until 12-14 years of age.
Running and jumping can put stress on a growth plate just below the knee cap. Pain can develop because the muscles and tendons pull on the soft part of the developing bone. Fortunately, this often resolves when it is recognized early. The treatment is focused on resting and limiting the activity that causes the symptoms.
Running and repeated movements in sports can cause the heel to become painful in young athletes, typically around 8-10 years old. Heel pain in one or both feet during or after activity is a symptom of Sever’s disease which is the inflammation of a growth plate in the heel. With proper rest, stretching and sometimes adding a heel cup in the shoe, this problem resolves without long-term complications.
Stability, or balance, requires a complex coordination of several body systems. The balance required in basketball is considered “dynamic” because the athletes are always on the move. Each of the systems that help with balance can be improved with training. Dynamic balance training includes a combination of floor surface changes, movements, visual distractions, and other techniques. Improved balance has been shown to be associated with a lower risk of injury, therefore, young athletes should learn why and how to perform these exercises.
Ankle and knee injuries are common in youth basketball. To help prevent these injuries, work on skills like balance and coordination. Here are four types of exercises that improve stability.
Joints are designed to create stability in certain positions and mobility in others. Extremes at either end can cause injury. Exercises should include both flexibility and strengthening, one without the other can leave an athlete vulnerable to injury.
Basketball and other sports challenge an athletes’ body with random, sudden movements. From changing directions to colliding with another player, an athlete has to respond to abrupt forces. Practicing dynamic balance activities can improve strength and coordination to reduce the risk of injury during these unpredictable moments. An example of a dynamic balance activity is to stand on one leg and perform activities with a ball, check out our how-to videos on Ball Slams and Around the World.
The energy athletes need for practices and competition is supplied by the food they eat. If you put mud in the gas tank of a car, it does not run properly because it lacks the correct fuel. Athletes must supply their bodies with the correct “fuel” or nutrition to compete at their best and help prevent injury. The more energy, or fuel, an athlete uses, the more they need to consume to keep up with their needs.
Use these tips to plan ahead so that your athletes have nutritious choices throughout the day to prepare for a workout or competition.
Include your kids in the planning and shopping for their meals and snacks. Learning healthy habits early can carry on beyond youth sports and into college and adulthood where they are responsible for their own food and nutrition choices.
There are foods that make you strong, foods that make you fast, foods that make you sharp in the mind. Some foods make you sluggish by filling you up and not providing the right kinds of energy to help you perform. Here are a few simple tips to get you started on the right path to fueling your young athlete
Help your young athlete understand a few key sections:
Basketball is a demanding sport often played in a warm environment, whether indoors or outdoors. Together, this causes young athletes to build up heat in their body. Unlike adults, children may not sweat enough to keep themselves cool. This makes hydration even more important. Drinking water before, during and after play is recommended for athletes of all ages. Read more to learn how to plan ahead for proper hydration.
Recognizing and responding to signs and symptoms of heat illness is critically important. These may be present even when body temperature is not elevated. Quick cooling in an ice bath is recommended.
This is dependent on whether the intensity is high or low. With low intensity events, drinking when thirsty should be enough. With high intensity events, like basketball or in very hot temperatures, here are some guidelines.
In most situations, water is the best choice for hydrating young athletes. Sports drinks are only recommended when participating in activities:
When water isn’t enough, reach for a sports drink with a good mix of water, electrolytes and carbohydrates. For many young athletes, 30-60 grams of carbohydrates in an hour is all they need. You can find this information on any standard nutrition label. Otherwise, stick with water, start early and drink often. Watch this video to learn more.
Rules and guidelines are thoughtfully designed to meet several goals. From establishing a shared understanding of the competition to promoting a fair environment, rules prevent injuries. Guidelines promote safety continue to evolve as more research is available.
In collaboration with the NBA, USA Basketball, has developed guidelines that encourage young athletes should participate in multiple sports through high school. This advice is consistent with growing evidence in pediatric sports medicine research to delay specialization in any sport, including basketball. Studies have found this behavior to correlate with lower injury rates and more healthy playing time for NBA players.
Because development varies greatly in children, playing “up” and “down” can increase the risk of injury to themselves or others. Until the age of 13, or the beginning of 9th grade, USA Basketball recommends that teams and play is organized by age. Non-organized basketball play with mixed age groups requires vigilant adult supervision to ensure smaller children are not challenged beyond their abilities. Studies suggest that injuries are more likely in non-organized play.
Flagrant fouls and aggressive play increase the risk of injury. More importantly, permitting these behaviors distracts from an important focus for young athletes, having fun. Keep the environment positive to reduce the risk of injury and early burnout.