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Basketball is one of the most popular competitive sports, played by children, teens and adults, both men and women at all different levels. There are a variety of injuries that can occur in basketball players, that are either acute (occur suddenly) or happen as a result of overuse and repetitive motions (like those needed to shoot a basket).

Basketball players are typically prone to injuries that correspond with the areas of body used in specific motions. The ankle can be injured from landing or jumping while off balance. Jammed fingers occur as a result of contact with the ball. Knee injuries are common as a result of decelerating during cutting and stopping. Bruising and cuts can occur from colliding with or striking another player. Stress fractures are also a common basketball injury that occurs as a result of rapid increases in the level of training.


  • An ankle injury to a child has the potential to damage the growth plate. In this case a sports health professional should be consulted.
  • Finger injuries can occur due to contact with the ball
  • Sudden changes in direction that put the ligaments and menisci of the knee at risk for injury.
  • A traumatic blow to the knee can injure the medial collateral ligament (MCL) or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
  • Deep bruising can occur from having one player’s knee strike another player in the thigh
  • A rapid increase in activity level or training (overtraining)

Risk Factors

There are intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for injury. Intrinsic factors are a child’s individual musculoskeletal issues, which can include skeletal immaturity (bones and joints that are still developing) or muscle weakness. Extrinsic factors are the environment in which an athlete performs, which can include the level of competition: how much, how hard and how long play lasts.

Other common risk factors for basketball injuries include:

  • An individual players level of training and strength
  • Playing on a court or surface that is not well maintained
  • Playing with hoops that are either too high or too low

Prevention and Performance

The best way to avoid basketball related injuries is to be trained in proper technique and mechanics. Additionally, proper training and conditioning so that players are prepared for the demands on the game whether playing recreationally or competitively is crucial to avoiding the occurrence of injury.

Other ways to avoid injury include

  • A pre-season physical examination by sports health professionals
  • Adequate hydration, players should not wait until thirsty to drink because this is often too late for proper hydration.
  • To avoid heat related illnesses avoid excessively hot and humid conditions either in or out doors.
  • Since injury rates are higher for athletes who are not physically fit, athletes should work on physical fitness before and during the competitive season.
  • After periods of inactivity the basketball player should gradually return to play and participate in aerobic, strength, flexibility, and agility training.
  • Sports health professionals recommend taking at least one season off from basketball per year.
  • “Listen to your body” means decrease the amount and intensity of training if discomfort or pain develops.
  • Proper training will not only decrease the risk of injury but also the risk of “burn-out”


  • Did you know that there is an estimated 1.6 million injuries associated with basketball each year?
  • Sports health tips provide general information only and are not a substitute for your own good judgment or consultation with a physician.

Common Conditions

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
  • Lateral ankle sprain
  • Medial ankle sprain
  • High ankle sprain
  • Low back pain
  • Spondylolysis
  • Herniated disc

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