Basketball Injury Prevention

Basketball Injury PreventionBasketball is a highly demanding and competitive sport. Therefore, it is highly stressful to the body, and often leads to injuries related to overuse or contact with the floor or another player.  On average almost half of the players on a basketball team during the course of a season experience injury, and in some cases multiple ones.  In any given season, the number of injuries can be the major difference in wins and losses.

In approaching the design for a basketball strength and conditioning program, it is essential to know the common injuries, and how to reduce risk.  The greatest number of injuries resulting in more than seven sessions of time loss involved the knee, whereas the most common injuries causing fewer than seven sessions of time loss involved the ankle.  The most common cause of injury is contact with another player, especially in the “key”.  Injuries occur 3.7 times more often in games than during practice.

Basketball Injury Prevention Tips


  • Pace yourself; don’t do too much too soon when pre-conditioning for basketball season.
  • A conditioning program with emphasis on aerobic and muscular fitness training should be implemented prior to the beginning of basketball season.
  • Begin gradually participating in activities specific to basketball, such as motor skill components of fitness: jumping (rope skipping) and agility/coordination/balance drills.  This mode of training will strengthen the connective tissue (muscle, bones, ligaments, and tendons) which will assist the body in accommodating to physical stress.  These exercises will also assist with neuromuscular coordination, the ability to integrate the senses – sight, sound, and proprioceptive (knowing the position of your body in space) – with motor function to produce smooth, accurate, and skilled movement.
  • Add ankle, shin (anterior tibialis), and soleus strengthening exercises to the basic lower extremity muscular fitness exercise program.
  • Participate daily in a complete body stretching program.
  • Remember to warm-up and stretch at least 5 – 10 minutes before participating in a basketball activity.
  • A continued maintenance program throughout the season would also help prevent injuries.
  • Contact a local MWR Trainer for additional information on basketball conditioning.  Many MWR Facilities provide safety/injury prevention information to coaches, players, and officials regarding preparation, conditioning, and training proper playing techniques.
  • NOTE:  Prior injury to the body predisposes one to re-injury of that particular extremity.


  • Jewelry, i.e., rings, necklaces, etc. are not recommended during basketball activity participation.
  • Clothing attire that contain pockets are not recommended due to the risk of fingers getting caught/lodged in clothing.
  • Protective eye goggles would help prevent ocular injury.
  • Basketball playing shoes should be used.  Shoes specific to other sports are not recommended.
  • Basketball goal must be padded; allow space of at least 8-ft. clear area past goal.  Ensure bumper guards are installed correctly on glass boards.


  • The style of play by a basketball team may increase risk of injury; the more contact involved, the higher the incidence for injury.
  • Trained coaching staff can impact positively upon basketball injury prevention.  Coaches should be able to provide safe information to players on the team regarding preparation, conditioning, and training proper playing techniques.
  • Officiated games decrease the risk of injury occurrence.  Enforcement of rules assists in decreasing the incidence of injury.


  • Be aware of the environment around you.  Prior to participating in basketball, look for predisposing risk factors on the playing court such as foreign objects, towels, gym bags, water, etc.
  • Alcohol consumption should be discouraged during any athletic participation.
  • Proper hydration during activity is recommended.

Basketball Injury Prevention

It is true that as athletes there really is no way to avoid injury completely when playing with 100% effort as is expected during practice and fierce competition.  That is why it is important to have a holistic approach to training that is focused on both performance and prevention.