Friday, August 31, 2007

The Perils of Pre-Season

In articles from the most recent issue of the Journal of Athletic Training , researchers examining 15 years of college basketball injury data found that pre-season practice injury rates were about 2 and 1/2 times higher than in-season practice rates.

As the authors comment, this may be due to the fact that pre-season practices are physically more intense, focusing more on conditioning while in-season practices focus more on strategy and game preparation.

However, another potential reason is that players may (unfortunately) not be in shape at the start of pre-season, thinking that this is the time to "get their legs and wind back". In the unprepared player, untreated muscle imbalances, decreased strength, lower cardiovascular conditioning and endurance, and other deficiencies likely increase their risk for a pre-season practice injury.

So what are you waiting for? Don't just get ready for the season by going to the gym to shoot or play in a pick up game. Get a thorough pre-season evaluation now from a physician, physical therapist, athletic trainer, or certified strength and conditioning coach, finish rehabbing any existing injuries, work on neuromuscular training programs to prevent future injuries, work on strengthening your core as well as your arms and legs, and ramp up your cardiovascular conditioning program.

This will increase your chance of becoming a starter, while decreasing your chance for a pre-season injury.

Friday, August 24, 2007

You Are What You Eat

A recent article by Nancy Clark got me to thinking about some of my favorite basketball nutrition articles and resources.

Here's a short list that I've also added to my link section (lower right hand corner of this blog) .

While these links provide good general information, none of it takes the place of having a sports dietitian work with you to optimize your nutrition.

Fueling the Fastbreak- Article by Jen Ketterly, MS, RD

Basketball Nutrition Handout - from the Australian Institute of Sport
Better Nutrition Equals Better Hoops - from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute

A healthy eating and active living Web site for kids ages 9-12 and their families, from the International Food Information Council.

Website for Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists section of the American Dietetic Association. If you want to work with a Registered Dietitian in your area that specializes in sports nutrition go to .

Bon Apetit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jump! - Plyometrics in Youth Basketball - Part 2

Last month, I promised to continue my discussion about the use of plyometrics in youth basketball.

In this entry, I offer some suggestions about appropriate times to train, amount of training, length of training, and some useful and credible resources.

Like most pre-season programs that cause neuromuscular changes, you should start plyometric training at least 6 weeks before the start of practice.

A good youth plyometrics program is based upon these 5 principles:

1) Sufficient warmup – Any good workout should start with a dynamic warm-up to get the muscles ready for training.
2) Appropriate overload – Work first with simple body weight exercises that are enough to challenge you. Don't use heavy weights or deep jumps.
3) Gradual progression – Don’t try to do too much too soon. If you do, you’re just asking for a good case of Osgood-Schlatter Disease or Sever’s Disease. Start with less intense exercises and then gradually progress to more advanced ones.
4) Cool-down Period and
5) Adequate Rest- Most experts recommend 2 or 3 days of rest between plyometric training to enable your muscles to recover and grow from the previous workout. This usually works out to twice each week on non-consecutive days.

Make sure that when you do plyometric exercises, you:
Use soft training surfaces.(Jumping on concrete or asphalt can lead to knee, ankle, and hip damage).
Use non-skid training surfaces.
Use jumping boxes that will not move.
Wear proper shoes.
Keep the jumping area free of clutter.

Learn and practice proper landing form on all jumps because landing with stiff, straight legs puts pressure on the ligaments and bones and not the muscles. This can cause injury and reduces the effectiveness of your training.
Plyometric drills should be performed when your legs are fresh and before lifting weights.
When it comes to plyometric drills, more is not necessarily better.

For more information about plyometrics, read Progressive Plyometrics for Kids by Faigenbaum, Falkel and Chu and Jumping into Plyometrics by Donald Chu, PhD.

Jump to it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Time Out

For this week, at least, the doctor is out.

I'm away on vacation but will return next week to post information that will help you improve the health, reduce the injuries, and enhance the performance of youth basketball athletes.

How about you? Do you have any timeouts left this summer?
If you do, I encourage you to use them and take some time to relax before the new school year (and season) begins.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Trojan Teeth

Nice smile.
Hope he keeps it.

In a just-published article in the Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers reported on the incidence of dental injuries in athletes playing for the University of Southern California Trojans from 1996-2005.

Those of you who read the blogs last month about mouthguard use can guess which sport had the highest dental injury rate for both men’s and women’s athletics.

Yep, it was basketball.

During the years this study took place, USC fielded 19 teams in 15 different sports. Compared with football, soccer, baseball and all other sports, men’s and women’s basketball had the highest dental injury rate.

While this study is limited by the small number of athletes followed, it does report two important findings.

We already know the first finding - that there is a higher incidence of dental injuries in basketball for both boys and girls. This has been found in different studies from different countries.
The other interesting finding is related to the effect that mouthguard use might have on basketball athlete’s dental safety.

In 2000, (in the middle of this study) the USC women’s basketball program instituted a team-wide policy requiring all players to wear a mouthguard during practices and games.

When the authors reviewed their data, they found that this policy corresponded to a 2/3 reduction in the incidence rate of dental injuries for the women players.

While the number of players is too small and the study is not set up to prove the point, this would support the theory that wearing mouthguards while playing basketball does reduce your risk of serious dental injury.

Basketball players historically have complained that mouthguards bother them when they play. Some felt (and still feel) that it limits their game, too. But modern-day mouthguards don’t have to be uncomfortable and they may even make some players feel safer and play quicker and more aggressively.

So did wearing mouthguards affect the USC Women’s team performance?
During the first 4 seasons studied (before mouthguards were required) they had a record of 55-58. Their record over the next 6 years was 93-86. Not much difference in the won/loss columns but probably a significant difference in dentist bills.

So what will OJ Mayo do as he starts his Freshman year at USC? If he’s smart, he’ll wear a mouthguard and take care of his bubblegum card smile.

What will YOU do the next time you or your players take the court?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Take Him/Her to the Hospital !!

In a recently published report from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), basketball was, yet again, the most common sport to cause an injury that sent a child or adolescent (between the ages of 5 and 18 years) to a hospital emergency department.

While the article ( available at ), focuses on brain injuries from sports participation, the authors (see table 1) estimate that, between 2001-2005, there were over 380,000 emergency room visits for youth basketball-related injuries. That's more than football, more than bicycling, more than baseball, soccer, or any other sport listed.

If you look at all ages, basketball is still the sport associated with the most emergency room visits (over 600,000 during that same time period).

For the dubious distinction of causing brain injuries (concussions and worse), youth basketball ranks 3rd, behind bicycles and football, two sports where the use of helmets is mandated.

Don't get me wrong, I consider basketball to be the best sport on the planet and would encourage all young athletes to learn, practice, and enjoy it.

But the next time you think about going out to play, keep in mind that it is a high-speed, contact sport that can send you to the hospital so you should take every opportunity to rehabilitate, train, and use protective equipment to reduce your chance of being the one seen in the local emergency room.