There are two kinds of sports injuries – acute and chronic. An acute injury is one that happens suddenly such as “twisting” an ankle by landing awkwardly or being hit in the face by an opponent’s elbow during a rebounding contest.

Chronic injuries are caused by repeated strain on muscle groups or joints and can be contributed to by a player’s technique, a structural abnormality or when a player is experiencing significant growth.

Some common injuries in basketball are:

  • Ankle sprain – symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Bruises – bleeding into the skin, caused by a blow. Particularly prevalent in post play;
  • Nose Injuries – a direct blow (e.g. by an elbow in a rebounding contest) may cause a bloody nose or broken nose (or other facial injury)
  • Knee Joint Injuries – symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is typically damaged by a twisting force, whilst PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) is often an impact on the knee (such as falling and landing on the knee). ACL injuries are more common in basketball.
  • Dental Damage – a blow to the jaw can crack, break or dislodge teeth (which may occur when going for a rebound) or teeth can be directly broken if the player hits the floor.

Every coach should have a basic understanding of first aid. Any time a coach is unsure of what to do, it is best to not move the athlete and to seek assistance.

The recommended regime for sprains, strains and joint injuries is RICER and NO HARM:

  • Rest
  • Ice – apply ice for 20 minutes every two hours for the first 48-72 hours
  • Compression – apply a firm elastic bandage to compress the injured area
  • Elevation – keep the injured area above heart level at all times
  • Referral – see an appropriate practitioner as soon as possible.
  • No Heat – heat increases bleeding
  • No Alcohol – alcohol also increases bleeding and swelling
  • No Running – running or exercise will increase blood flow, which will delay healing
  • No Massage – massage increases swelling and bleeding.

When an athlete suffers a nose bleed they should stop activity and sit down with their head leaning forward. While pinching the nostrils together, they should breath through their mouth, and the nose should stop bleeding within 10 minutes – hold the nose throughout this time.

If bleeding continues or if there was a direct blow to the nose, the player should seek medical advice.

Where a tooth is knocked out it should be rinsed in milk if possible (or water if there is no milk) and the athlete should seek dental treatment immediately.

Athletes can further reduce the risk of injury by:

  • Wearing appropriately fitting footwear;
  • Strapping joints as necessary (e.g. ankle);
  • Wear a mouth guard;
  • Seek advice to rehabilitate injuries and follow the regime recommended fully.