5 Tips for Basketball Players

Posted on October 30, 2014

It’s that time of year again! Time to dust off those basketball shoes, pump up that ball, and get back on the hardwoods! As basketball season kicks back into gear, we want to provide you with tips to help you improve your skills and decrease your risk for injury. Basketball players are at risk for a multitude of injuries, especially at the knees, feet, and ankles due to the nature of running and cutting on a relatively unforgiving surface. Here are some tips you can try to help prevent these injuries!

  1. Improve hip and ankle mobility
    • First and foremost, you have to be able to move! On defense and when cutting with the basketball, you have to be able to get down low; that requires ankle dorsiflexion (shin over toes) as well as hip flexion and rotation. If you’re tight in those ranges, you’ll compensate and put extra stress on your knee and back which can lead to injury. It can also put extra stress on your foot – notice all the recent foot fractures in college and the NBA?! The court is not very forgiving, so your joints need to have the mobility to absorb the shock rather than your bones!
  2. Improve hip and ankle strength
    • If you have the range of motion, now you need the strength to control it! It’s important to have a strong hip (mainly glute maximus and medius) to control your knee position and alignment. They are in charge of keeping your femur stable at your hip so your knee doesn’t dive and rotate inside of your foot, stressing your knee ligaments and leading to injury.Description: Michael Jordan
    • You also need strong calves (gastrocnemius and soleus) as well as other surrounding musculature to control your foot and ankle, to stand up to the running and jumping demands needed for basketball and to also help prevent ankle sprains. 
  3. Improve dynamic whole body control
    • Injuries tend to happen in basketball when we lose alignment of our hip, knee, and/or foot and ankle resulting in abnormal stress on a joint, ligament, or muscle resulting in damage and injury.
    • The general rule of thumb is to try to keep your hip, knee, and ankle all in alignment. It’s hard enough to do this with just squats and lunges, let alone with jumping and shuffling required for basketball! It takes practice with proper static and dynamic motor control and strength drills.
  4. Improve lower extremity speed and power
    • Just performing 3 sets of 15 with exercises isn’t going to cut it for basketball. It’s a fast sport requiring speed and power, so you need to train those activities.
    • Power drills should be done working up to maximum effort with just 5 repetitions and then 2-5 minutes of rest from that activity in between to allow your energy stores to replenish.
    • Speed drills should be done with a variety of activities from sprints, to jumps, to ladder drills.
  5. Take care of yourself!
    • Basketball is a tough sport that puts a lot of stress on your body! Make sure you are drinking enough water, mixing in some sports drinks on tougher days, eating a well-balanced meal with appropriate greens, fruits, starches, and protein. Also, don’t forget about sleep. Sleep is our body’s way to reset and heal. You should be getting at least 8 hours minimum per night, so don’t procrastinate with that homework!

These tips just skim the surface of what’s important to be a healthy basketball athlete with decreased risk for injury. If you have any further questions or would like a screen to see how you’re doing at meeting the above criteria please give us a call at (541) 752-0545.

Happy Hooping!

– Dane Happeny, DPT

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