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Basketball: Make Safety a Point

Basketball is an exciting sport, but it can also be tough on your body.

College and professional basketball players must train to avoid injury — and so should your youngster.

Experts say players can avoid injury by strengthening muscles through a supervised weight-training program before the season. That helps prevent ligament injuries to knees and ankles, the most common court injuries.

Players must also warm up and cool down properly. Here are suggestions from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases:

  • First, jog lightly for four or five minutes.

  • Second, do five minutes of movements that simulate game play: Jump toward the basket, or sprint 10 yards, then stop quickly.

  • Cool down by jogging lightly again for four or five minutes and then gently stretching muscles that have tightened during exercise.

The safety tip-off

  • Prevent ankle sprains by wearing a well-made shoe that fits properly and has a firm heal counter or support.

  • Prevent knee injuries by strengthening leg muscles with a supervised conditioning program. Start at least six or seven weeks before the season.

  • Never play with half-laced sneakers. It may look cool, but you're risking a sprained ankle or worse.

  • Drink plenty of fluids while playing, especially when it's hot.

  • A properly fitting mouth guard can help prevent tooth and mouth injuries caused by stray elbows.