Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Links

Just added a new set of links to the blog (scroll down to the blue bar on the right).
In addition to links to youth basketball and sports medicine organizations, there's now a list of charitable organizations that use basketball to promote health, peace, and well-being.
They all do good work and could use your support.

Friday, June 22, 2007

An Ankle a Day....

OK, maybe Sports Medicine doctors don't see an ankle injury each day, but it's pretty close.

Ankle injuries (mostly sprains) are the most common basketball injury and can range from a "tweak" that you walk off to a career ending event.

Take a look at this clip a few times and then read on for a few things to learn from it.

  • While guards and wings like to "break ankles" with a good crossover driblle during transition or on the perimeter, most ankle injuries occur in the paint, where people are jumping and landing while going for rebounds, blocked shots, etc.

  • The vast majority (about 85%) of ankle sprains occur when you land awkwardly or on top of someone else's foot and roll your foot over the outside border. This inversion injury can stretch or tear ligaments (tissue that joins bone to bone) and cause significant pain. In this instance, the player lands on someone else's foot and suffers an inversion sprain.

  • Immediate management of the injury includes getting off the floor to be evaluated. If you hear a pop, roll your ankle the other way (eversion), or can't walk or bear weight on the ankle, it's probably a more serious injury. If an athletic trainer, physical therapist or physician is present, they can assess the tenderness and stability of the ankle ligaments by performing a series of maneuvers. You can see some of this on the video.

This should be done quickly, because as soon as any swelling starts, it will become more difficult to figure out any specific tender points (because the entire side of the ankle will be tender!)

  • Whether you're in a pickup game or in the middle of the NBA Finals, you should take immediate steps to keep the ankle from swelling (too much). This means starting the R.I.C.E program that includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In the video, you can see this player (Kristen Rasmussen of the Adelaide Lightning) limping off the court while her foot is in a compression boot.

  • Another important point is that once you sprain your ankle, you become 5 times more likely to sustain another injury to that same ankle. I'm guessing that "Raz" had previously sprained her ankle(s) as she can be seen to be wearing black ankle supports under her basketball shoes (more about this in a future post).

The good news is that ankle injuries, when treated appropriately, can be overcome. Ms. Rasmussen was able to return later in the season and she's currently playing for the WNBA's Connecticut Sun.

In a future blog post, I'll go over some of the important, but often overlooked, parts of a good rehabilitation program designed to not only return an injured basketball player to competition but to decrease his or her risk of further injury.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Eyes Have It -Part II

In my last entry (The Eyes Have It), I stressed the important contribution that vision plays in the game of basketball.

But did you know that basketball carries one of the highest risks for sports-related eye injury?

Here are the facts:
* The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that, each year in the United States, more than a quarter of a million children under the age of 15 sustain a sports-related eye injury.
* Basketball and baseball are the two sports associated with the most eye injuries in athletes between the ages of 5-24 years old.
* Basketball accounts for almost 1/3 (29%) of all sports-related eye injuries.
* One in ten college basketball players will sustain an eye injury each season.
* More than half of basketball related eye injuries are cuts or scrapes to the eyelid while another 1/3 are bruises to the area around the eyes. Eleven percent are scrapes to the cornea, the clear tissue that covers your eyeball.
* About 7% of sports-related eye injuries require a trip to the emergency room and some even result in permanent loss of sight.

These statistics are not meant to stop you from playing basketball.
But they should get your attention.

So what can you do to reduce your risk of getting poked in the eye when everyone’s reaching/battling for the ball?

According to the Joint Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Opthalmology:
* All athletes and their parents should be made aware of the risks associated with participation in sports. (Just did that!)
* Any athlete with worse than 20/40 corrected vision in one eye MUST wear eye protectors when playing. (Think about it, if you injure your “good” eye, you might never be able to drive a car, let alone drive down the lane).
* Safety sports eyewear should meet the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard F803 (just look at the label) for basketball players.
* Safety eyewear should be replaced when it no longer fits correctly, is damaged, or is yellowed with age (because it might no longer be strong enough to protect you).

A few other thoughts:

While contact lenses can improve your vision, they don’t provide any extra protection for your eyes. Appropriate eye protectors should still be worn over them.
Regular “streetwear” glasses that do not have non-breakable polycarbonate lenses can actually increase your risk of a severe eye injury since they are more likely to shatter.
When worn correctly, protective eyewear can reduce the risk of serious injury to your eyes by 90%.

So do your best James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar impression and drive the lane with no fear, knowing that you’ve got your eyes covered.

For more information and resources about eye protection and youth sports, go to:

The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries

Protective Eyewear for Young Athletes;113/3/619.pdf

Promoting the Use of Protective Eyewear for Children in Sports

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Eyes Have It

“He’s got eyes in the back of his head”
“She’s got great court vision”

You often hear talented basketball players described this way.
But how important is it to have good vision when you’re playing hoops?

Well, you can play basketball well without being able to smell, taste, or hear.
You can even play basketball well without being able to walk or run,
but just try to play basketball with your eyes closed.
Not happening.

Vision plays an important part in balance (Try standing on one leg with your eyes open and then with your eye closed), coordination and speed (DON’T try running a suicide sprint on the court with your eyes closed) and hand-eye coordination (Throw a ball up and catch it with your eyes open, and then with your eyes closed).

Because of the constantly changing position of the ball and players, a basketball athlete needs to have excellent vision to reach his/her potential.

Different positions place different demands on your sight during a game. While guards usually play facing the hoop, a post player who plays with his/her back to the basket and turns to shoot has only a few milliseconds to find and lock in on the rim or backboard. Players who hang out around the 3-point line need better depth perception than those who are shooting mostly lay-ups.

So what can you do? A good first step is to get a sports vision specialist (usually an optometrist or ophthalmologist) to perform a sports vision assessment. This not only includes the basic eye chart testing for visual acuity, but might also include measures of dynamic (in motion) visual acuity, peripheral vision, depth perception, tracking, and visual memory. While you’re at it, a basic test of color vision wouldn’t hurt.

Once you have more information about your visual strengths and areas that need improving, there are exercises you can perform to improve your passing, catching, and shooting.

In my next entry, I’ll talk about steps you can take to protect your eyes from injury while you’re playing

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

and Drink Some More !!

In my last post I talked about pre-hydration, or making sure you have enough fluids before training or competing.

While it's important to be well hydrated when you step onto the court, it's just as important to make sure you stay hydrated during your practice or game (to optimize your performance) and to re-hydrate yourself afterwards (to make sure your body recovers easily and is ready to go the next time).


During a game or workout, you should drink 8-12 ounces every 15-20 minutes to keep yourself hydrated.
If you're playing half-court for less than an hour, drinking water is the best (and least expensive!) option.
If you're playing more than an hour, you might consider using a sports drink to help provide some energy (in the form of sugar/carbohydrates) and replace some of the sodium you sweat away.


The first 30 minutes after the game is the best time to rehydrate (not to mention the best time to restore your carbohydrates, and provide your body with some protein to help build your stressed muscles back up).

Focusing on rehydration, your post-game liquid consumption really depends upon how much you've failed to replace during the game (see above).

Weigh yourself before the game and then again afterwards (uniform off!).
For every pound of weight you've lost, you've fallen 16 ounces behind in your liquid consumption and you need to drink that much after the game or practice to make it up.

While water will help with the rehydration, many people suggest using a recovery drink that also includes protein and carbohydrates to help your body better recover.


Kris Osterberg MS, RD, gave an interesting poster presentation at the recent 2007 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

A former college basketball player, her research focused on how well hydrated NBA basketball players were before and after Summer League games in Salt Lake City, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada.

It wasn't pretty.

Over half of the players showed up under-hydrated before the games and didn’t make up for this during the game even though they could have as much water or sports drink as they wanted…. Now that’s just sad.

Why is that sad? Well, research has shown that dehydration (as little as 2%) can decrease an athlete’s endurance and performance. This has been shown to be the case in many different sports, including basketball. So here are these NBA Summer League players, trying to get noticed by scouts or make the team, and they’re already putting themselves at a disadvantage because they didn’t drink enough liquids before the game.

While you might want to model your crossover dribble or post-game after some of these players, don’t follow their poor pre-game hydration habits!! Maybe they didn't know any better, but you should.

What can you do? Prehydrate.

Step One
About 2-3 hours before your game or practice, drink 12-16 ounces of fluid (water, or a sports drink but NOT an energy drink-more on this in a future post).

Step Two
About 20 minutes before your game/practice drink another 8-12 ounces of fluid.
Remember, these are general guidelines and you should talk to your doctor or sports nutritionist about what amounts are right for you. But if you follow recommendations along these lines, you’ll improve your (and your team’s) performance when you step onto the court.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing

Today, the American Academy of Pediatric published a clinical report entitled Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes.

This press release covers most of the important points and should be required reading for all parents, coaches and athletes.

If you or your child’s organized basketball experience includes any one of the following terms…..

  • year-round
  • multiple teams (at the same time)
  • parental pressure
  • traveling team
  • weekend tournaments

… you should click on the links above and consider their advice.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Want to know how to improve your speed on the court?

I just read the June 2007 edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Performance Training Journal which focuses on Speed Development.

How important is speed in basketball? While it may not be as important during a half-court game, the ability to get up and down the court quickly during a full-court run can significantly affect fast break points (scored and allowed) and mean the difference between winning and losing the game.

Here are 4 take-home points from this issue.


To get the most out of a training session, perform speed drills before you get tired (try to perform them at the beginning of practice (but after a dynamic warmup!) or prior to weight training workouts) so that you can practice high-quality movements at top speed. Use a stop watch to record sprint times to motivate yourself to improve, as well as let you know when you’re getting stale. When your sprint times start going up, it means you're getting tired/stale and it’s time to stop this session and move on to something else.


Some of the more popular speed training programs focus on straight-line sprints run over 50-100 yards, but if you want to increase speed for basketball, the author suggests training at distances commonly run during play.
Think about it…. when was the last time you saw a basketball player run 100 yards in a straight line during a game? So when you train for speed, limit your sprint conditioning drills to the distance between the end lines on the court.


Training for basketball should also focus on the footwork and agility needed to turn linear (forwards/backwards) speed into lateral (side-to-side) and diagonal speed.


Once you’re comfortable running sprints using high-quality movements at top speed, you can progress your training to include sprints (forward, lateral, diagonal) against resistance. Resisted sprinting can be used not only to increase speed but to also to improve acceleration, an important trait to possess in a sport with so many starts and stops. You can find some suggestions about different ways to add resistance to your sprints by reading the article on page 12 of this issue.

To read the articles in this issue, click here .

To learn more about the National Strength and Conditioning Association, click here.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Why This Blog?

Basketball is a beautiful game.
The flow: the movement: the constantly changing challenges: the chance to work with others while you lose yourself in the game.

It’s something that I’ve enjoyed throughout my life.
And I’m not alone…almost 450 million people play basketball somewhere on the planet.

Whether it’s in front of millions of people at the NBA or FIBA Championships or just shooting hoops on a makeshift court, people are loving the game.

My love began when I started playing in an instructional league at the age of 5.
I got the “Jones” then and there.

Now, almost 40 years later, I recognize that, while it offers physical, social, and other benefits, playing basketball can lead to injuries in the young and old.

Injuries cause pain, can cost thousands of dollars in medical care and rehabilitation, and can change the course of your life. Some may say it’s “the price you pay to play”, but many of these injuries can be prevented if the right training, equipment, and treatments are used.

As a physician at a large academic medical center, I’ve become aware of the wealth of research about injury prevention, health enhancement, and performance training that’s out there but has not been discovered and utilized by the vast majority of parents, coaches and players in our country.

This blog will help change that.

Youth Basketball Medicine will offer credible, reliable information about treatments, equipment, nutrition, training programs and more that will help improve the health, fitness, and performance of young athletes so that they can enjoy, and learn from, the game of basketball.