|Basketball injuries can be prevented up to a certain point when following the right principles|
A three-years study by the EuroSafe -Safety in Sports Task Force confirms that it is possible to anchor injury prevention more strongly into the education and training of coaches as well as players and thus to increase the health benefits of playing basketball by decreasing injury risks.
Coaches play a decisive role in translating the prevention evidence into practice and are the most important mediators for integrating safety aspects within current training and practices. The study report on the pilot has been launched in collaboration with FIBA Europe.
With an annual toll of over 720,000 injuries in EU-countries, basketball is a demanding sport. The total medical costs of basketball related injuries are estimated at up to 500 million euro a year, one third of these costs being related to knee injuries. Quite some knowledge is available as to the appropriate training principles and protective measures, e.g. use of (external) ankle support, in order to reduce injury risks among basketball players. However, the challenge is to enable clubs to invest means and capacity to implement such measures and to motivate coaches and athletes to bring these principles consistently into practice. Coaches play a key role in integrating safety aspects within current training and coaching practices.
With this in mind, the Safety in Sports Network under the leadership of the Ruhr-University Bochum (GER), developed a set of measures and tools that has been proven to be effective and readily available for being taken up by the trainers, coaches and athletes. This has been done in collaboration with FIBA Europe and the Swedish and Slovak national basketball federations. Experts from the two national federations critically reviewed a set of recommended practices and assessed their applicability and acceptability at local level. Each of the two federations produced a 'tailor-made' set of tools, coaching clinics and training seminars.
The results of these pilots are most promising:
- Coaches in the two countries became more competent in directing their training practices towards training contents that are more effective in reducing injuries, in particular by including muscle strengthening and coordination exercises;
- Coaches found better opportunities to motivate their team members in appreciating and accepting the training practices offered;
- The players that participated in the pilots welcomed the inclusion of safety aspects in sports practice while this also contributed to enhancing their performance. Both federations are confident that the pilots have helped to anchor injury prevention more strongly into their education and training curricula, to decrease injury risks and to make basketball an even more attractive type of sport.
The Safety in Sports Network advises national basketball federations to follow a more pro-active strategy as to the risk of injury and communicate with their members openly about the injury risks involved and necessary measures to be taken by clubs and individuals. All sustained injuries should be reported to trainers and coaches and should be systematically recorded at club and national level, in order to identify individual and situational risk factors, to monitor injury trends and to evaluate effects of measures taken.
All national associations should include an injury prevention module in their trainer education curriculums and designate an official staff member as the national 'safety promotion ambassador' within their federation.
FIBA Europe should play a key role in facilitating the transfer of the good practices developed by the Swedish and the Slovak Basketball Federations towards other countries in Europe. Such a pro-active approach will contribute to the positive image of the game and of organisations involved, and will help to attract new members.
The Safety in Sports Network will continue to promote safety in all types of sports and physical activities by initiating collaborative pilots and information campaigns. The pilot results are also of relevance for other ball sports and team sports and will be therefore shared with other relevant stakeholders.
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