As coaches, we push our athletes to always give their best effort. We're trained to demand 110 percent of them. And most of us are quick to say we place a player's individual success above our own. Yet each season, more athletes wind up hurt. So are we giving them our best effort as coaches?
It's in our job description to keep driving our players to strive for perfection. But sometimes we need to take a step back, because we first need to make sure our players are physically prepared. If our athletes' well-being is truly our number one goal, we need to do everything we can to prevent injuries.
According to Alan Stein, "Basketball athleticism is the foundation for every player's game." A more athletic athlete is a better athlete. A healthier player is less likely to be put out of the game by a preventable injury. This makes it critical for coaches to prescribe a well-rounded strength and conditioning program, one that addresses injury prevention in every workout. (Do you know The Best Exercises for Female Basketball Players?)
Three major steps need to taken inside every successful women's basketball injury prevention program:
- Prevent on-court and weight room injuries.
- Make sure the program is developmentally appropriate and you know the best training route to take. An eighth grade female basketball player should not attempt to train the same way as an NCAA D-I women's basketball player. (Learn how to Create Power and Balance in Women's Basketball.)
- Increase athletic performance. The idea is that by achieving the first two goals, you'll ultimately increase your athletes' performance.
The most common injuries in women's basketball affect players' ankles, knees and hips. Here are three sample exercises that will strengthen and condition these vital areas, helping each girl increase her court time and decrease her risk of injury. (See also How to Prevent Common Basketball Injuries.)
For the ankles
Tiptoe Walk Progression (No shoes)
Sets/Reps: 3x10 steps forward, 10 steps back (each progression)
- Starting in a calf-raise position on your tiptoes, take 10 small steps forward
- Still facing forward, take 10 small steps back to the starting line
- Staying on your tiptoes, turn your feet to a "pigeon-toed" stance (toes pointed inward)
- Take 10 small steps forward and 10 small steps back to the start
- Still facing forward, turn your feet out into a "duck-foot" stance (toes pointed out)
- Take 10 small steps forward and 10 small steps back
- One set equals a total of 60 steps
For the knees
Resistance Band Squats (No shoes)
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes facing forward
- Place a resistance band around both legs right above the knee joint
- Drive your knees out as you squat
- Go down to parallel, then stand back up
- Make sure you are driving your knees out through the entire repetition
For the hips
Hip Bridge (No shoes)
- Lie flat on your back
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground
- Push through your heels to lift your butt off the ground until your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees
- Lower back to the ground and repeat
For more tips on injury prevention and basketball training, check out Coach L and Spartan Basketball at www.spartanpt.com.
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