Family Safety Tip: Kids Basketball
From the asphalt courts of Harlem to the high school gyms of Indiana, basketball is a way of life for millions of American teens. Guys want to be the next LeBron or Shaq. Girls want to be the next hotshot recruit at UConn or Tennessee. But there’s more to it than just fame and fortune. Everyone is playing because they love the game of basketball.
It may be fun to play and great exercise, but basketball is also a contact sport, and injuries occur frequently. Also, since basketball players play year-round, indoors and out, many suffer from repetitive stress injuries like tendonitis. To help make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay safe on the basketball court, follow these safety tips.
Why Basketball Safety Is Important
Nearly half a million basketball injuries are treated by doctors and hospitals each year. Fortunately, very few of those are life-threatening. Some (like broken bones, concussions, and ligament tears) can be quite serious, though. And while playing through the pain may seem noble to kids, it can lead to serious muscle and joint problems over time.
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. When playing outdoors, abrasions (particularly to the palms and fingers) are always a risk.
Indoor ball presents its own hazards in the form of walls and bleachers, and players are bound to collide going after loose balls and rebounds wherever they play
Two people, a ball, and a basketball hoop are just about everything needed for a basketball game. But this doesn’t mean that kids don’t need to pay attention to what gear to wear, especially on their feet. When taking the court, they should always be wearing the following:
- Basketball sneakers. The right shoe can go a long way toward reducing ankle, foot, and leg injuries. For added ankle support, some players choose to play in high-top sneakers, but low-rise shoes will suffice. All basketball shoes should have a sturdy, non-skid sole and should be the right size and securely laced at all times while playing. Kids should never play basketball in open-toed shoes, clogs, or heels (it sounds ridiculous, but it’s been known to happen).
- Athletic support. Wearing a protective cup is usually up to personal choice unless the particular league requires it, but boys will appreciate having a good athletic supporter when running down the court or jostling under the net. Girls should consider a good sports bra, and many players of both sexes choose to wear supportive athletic shorts beneath their basketball shorts.
- Mouthguard. Some youth leagues may require players to wear a mouthguard. In any case, kids should strongly consider wearing one anyway to guard against broken teeth, mouth, or tongue injuries.
- Other gear. Players who wear glasses, and many who wear contacts, will want to use protective eyewear made of shatterproof plastic. Kids with prior injuries can benefit from fitted knee, ankle, or wrist braces to support their joints while playing.
Where to Play
Since basketball can involve anywhere from two to 10 players, it can be played in small spaces as easily as giant arenas. Driveways, playgrounds, and gyms are all potential courts and present basketball players with an ever-changing variety of surfaces.
Regardless of where the game is played, players should always inspect the court beforehand and make sure it is free of debris, particularly broken glass and loose gravel. The court surface should also be free of any cracks, holes, or irregularities that could lead to sprained or twisted ankles.
For night games played outside, the court should be well lit and in a safe area. Indoor courts should have plenty of distance between the edges of the court and any walls, bleachers, or other obstacles. Basket stands and any walls near them should be well padded and properly secured. Extra equipment, like balls, gym bags, and other gear, should be stored where they won’t interfere with players going after loose balls.