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From a young age, basketball players learn the basics of the sport—dribbling, shooting, rules and regulations. But, just as important as knowing the fundamental principles of basketball is understanding how to prevent injuries and play safe! Here are some basketball safety tips that will help your athlete on and off the court.

As a contact sport, injuries are a part of the game. It’s fast-paced, it’s high energy, and players are fueled by adrenaline that keeps them moving. With so much going on in a single basketball game, it’s important that safety becomes second nature, just like dribbling.

To play basketball, athletes need to be prepared—mentally and physically. If your child’s mind is somewhere else, sit them down and talk it through before they step on the court. There’s no one more prone to injury than an athlete whose head is not in the game.

Wearing the right gear is also essential. From a mouth guard to the proper shoes, having the proper equipment can keep your athlete safe and stable for practice and games.

Once you’re dressed and ready to play, check to make sure the court and the surrounding environment is safe. Referees and the facility hosting the event should have this covered, but before stepping foot on the court, it’s never a bad idea for the athlete to do a quick check—remove any hazardous materials from the court, including water or debris. Make sure the backboard is secure, the walls are padded, and the boundary lines are a safe distance from the bleachers, walls, and other fixtures.

With a safe environment, the only thing left to do is play—according to the rules. Know yourself and your limitations. Play fair, don’t overcompensate, don’t push yourself too hard, follow the rules and regulations of the game, stay hydrated, don’t hang on the basketball ring, and make sure a medic or first aid personnel is available for any possible injuries.

If an injury does occur, qualified first aid personnel should be the first person to check the player. Follow up with a doctor visit to make sure there are no breaks, sprains, or other internal injuries.

If any rehabilitation is required, go through the process thoroughly. Don’t rush, listen to your body, and follow directions! I know it’s hard to sit out and miss part of the season, but full healing is essential for any future in basketball.