Monday, October 29, 2007

Basketball ---> Medicine

Here's a real case of Basketball Medicine!

I just read a release from the LSU Women's Basketball program that Katy Antony has passed up her senior season so that she can focus on being accepted into medical school. Kudos to Ms. Antony for making this hard decision, and kudos to her coach, Hall-of-Famer Van Chancellor, who supported her decision to leave the team.

Playing college basketball and pre-medical studies usually don't mix well. The time commitments of these two pursuits almost always force a student-athlete to leave one behind. While there are a few special people and special circumstances where Division 1 college basketball players make it into medical school, you can't fault this smart (National Honor Society President and High School Valedictorian) and talented (a former 2003 Louisiana Miss Basketball and Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year) young lady for her decision to concentrate on her pre-medical studies.

I hope that her basketball experience and lessons learned on the court will help her in medical school and residency programs.

And hey, if she decides to enroll at UNC's School of Medicine, I call first dibs on her for our intramural team!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The 2% Solution

The most recent edition of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition includes a supplemental review of hydration and physical performance by Bob Murray, PhD. In a nutshell, this article tries to summarize how dehydration affects physical performance.

The main points to remember:
  1. The current scientific consensus is that dehydration equal to 2% or more of your body weight will negatively effect athletic performance.
  2. Most dehydration occurs from water lost through sweat.
  3. There's a substantial variation in the sweating rates between individuals. That is, no two people sweat at the same rate.
  4. Each person's sweat rate changes depending upon their exercise intensity, length of exercise, and environment (how hot it is in the gym or out on the playground).
  5. There is no current evidence that hyperhydration (drinking more than you need) provides any performance advantage over just staying well-hydrated during a game.

So what's the 2% solution? What should you do to stop dehydration from ruining your game?

Go back to my previous post on how to prevent dehydration during a game or practice.

In addition, if you're playing ball outside on a hot day, try to find a shady spot to hang out when you're not playing, preferably one with a good breeze that will help cool you down even more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Concussions in Basketball

JESSICA KOURKOUNIS : For the Chronicle

Just came back from a lecture at the hospital entitled "Management of Neurosurgical Problems in Contact Sports". The presenter was a neurosurgeon affiliated with high school and college teams, as well as the NBA team in his state.

The first part of his lecture was on concussions in team sports and he noted how common it is in sports such as football, hockey, and soccer.

I was surprised that he didn't mention basketball.

As we've seen in recent studies, concussion, though not nearly as common as ankle and knee injuries, has become an important basketball-related injury.

Whether it's taking an elbow to the face, banging noggins while going for a loose ball, or hitting your head on the floor or against a basketball support, high school and college basketball players (more often girls than boys) sustain concussions.

While they may not require a hospital admission, concussions can cause long-term problems like headaches, dizziness, sleep problems, behavior changes, memory difficulties, learning disabilities, and more.

So what's a coach to do? As players get larger and the game gets more physical, we're going to see more head injuries, including concussions.

Go to helmets? Nope.
Wear mouthguards? Nope. (while mouthguards SHOULD be worn to prevent tooth and mouth injuries, there's no conclusive evidence that shows they prevent brain injuries).

The first step is to recognize that concussions DO occur in basketball and CAN cause problems if players are not identified and given help to recover.

In my future posts about this topic, I'll cover pre-season testing, on the court management, and how to know when an athlete is ready to return to play.

For a good overview about concussions in youth sports, take a look at this .

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wear Your Mouthguard

Sad to see Mike Copeland go down early last night at UNC's opening night scrimmage. Reports are that an elbow to the face loosened a couple of his front teeth.

I've always pulled for him since he came to Carolina and worked hard with Strength and Conditioning Coach Jonas Sahratian to overcome some past injuries.

For a 20-minute exhibition scrimmage, it was an intense game, especially in the paint. If this is how they compete in a scrimmage, imagine what it's going to be like during practice! Games might be tame by comparison.

While intense competition in practice is nothing new for this team, I have one suggestion for Mr. Copeland. If you're going to be going up against Deon Thompson, Alex Stephenson, and Tyler Hansbrough in practice everyday, please, please wear your mouthguard.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Best of Luck...

to Sean May, who will be undergoing microfracture surgery of his right knee later this week.

Dr. David W. Altchek will perform the surgery on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Sports Medicine and Shoulder facility at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City. Mr. May is expected to be on crutches for up to eight weeks afterwards and full recovery likely will take six to 12 months.
Quoted in the Bobcats press release, their team physician said “We are hopeful that this procedure will allow him to resume his career and be the player that he wants to be.”
Me, too.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Passing Plyometrics

When people talk about plyometrics, most of us think about working on a basketball player's vertical jump or lateral speed, but did you know that plyometrics can also improve your (team's) passing?

This article in the most recent edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Performance Journal discussed plyometric training of the upper body.
The author recommends throwing a medicine ball upwards while lying on a bench (make sure someone is spotting you!) and performing clapping push-ups (where you clap your hands together at the height of your pushup and catch yourself before your hands hit the floor).

While he doesn't mention it, the thought occurred to me that these exercises might be useful in improving basketball passing velocity (chest pass).

A little research led me to a 2006 article from the Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine which concludes that "plyometrics, by using the drop jump and medicine ball throw, are effective training methods for improving jump, footwork and chest pass ability in competitive basketball players".

While I can't comment on the accuracy of these findings (anybody out there able to translate Japanese?), it shouldn't be too hard to add these two plyometric exercises to the routine of an older teenager.
It just might improve their passing ability.