“My 13-year-old daughter recently started playing basketball at her school, and it’s a sport I don’t know much about. The coach said she is a talented player, so I want to be supportive, but make sure she isn’t pushed too hard. How can I ensure she is safe and prevent injuries on and off of the court?” — A concerned parent
Basketball can be fun to play and great exercise, but the game is also a contact sport, and injuries frequently occur. Sprained ankles are the most common basketball injuries, but jammed or broken fingers, bruises, bloody or broken noses, and poked eyes are all too common as well. Many of these injuries can be prevented if players follow the rules of the game, train and condition correctly, and play in safe environments.
Be sure your daughter wears all required safety equipment whenever she practices or plays. One of the most important pieces of gear is the right shoes, which can go a long way toward reducing ankle, foot, and leg injuries. High-top sneakers provide added ankle support, but all basketball shoes should have a sturdy, non-skid sole, and should be the right size and securely laced at all times while playing.
Mouth guards are also important to protect teeth and mouth, especially if your child has braces, and also absorbs some of the shock if she is hit in the head or jaw. If your daughter wears glasses, sports eyewear made of shatterproof plastic will protect her eyes from being poked with fingers or slammed with an elbow. Kids with prior injuries can benefit from fitted knee, ankle, or wrist braces to support their joints while playing.
When children are playing basketball, always make sure first-aid equipment is on hand, as well as someone who knows how to use it. Also, tell your daughter to be aware of her surroundings, as knowing where teammates and opponents are at all times will help kids avoid potentially painful collisions. For everyone’s safety, players should always remove any jewelry or sharp barrettes before playing.
Never encourage your daughter to “play through the pain.” Reassure her that she should always tell a coach, parent, or teacher when experiencing any pain. She should never ignore any tweaks, spasms, or discomfort while playing, because neglecting overuse injuries will only make them harder to recover from in the long run.
Is the coach encouraging your daughter and her teammates to warm up before games and practice? Warm-ups are extremely important to stretch the muscles and increase the flow of blood around the body, making muscles more warm and flexible. It also helps to prepare players mentally as well as physically.
One more important thing in preventing injuries is to make sure your child is properly hydrated and getting the proper nutrition to refuel and rebuild muscles. She should also be getting sufficient rest and the recommended nine to 11 hours of sleep each night.
Don’t forget — playing basketball should be fun! If too much of the focus is on competing and winning, your daughter may actually push too hard and get hurt.
©2018 Community News Group