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JBSA News
NEWS | Aug. 1, 2013

Critical Days of Summer highlights basketball safety

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

While it may take years of practice, thousands of free throws and several pairs of sneakers to become a true "Basketball Jones," it doesn't take much to get hurt on the hardwood if not careful.

Since May, 10 Class-C injuries labeled "sports recreation and individual fitness" have been reported in Air Education and Training Command, resulting in lost work days, Staff Sgt. Gary Lund, 502nd Air Base Wing ground safety technician at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, said.

Basketball accounts for many of these injuries Air Force-wide because it can be played indoors and "people get injured not only during the summer, but year-round," Lund said.

"Basketball Jones," a weekly topic for the 2013 Critical Days of Summer campaign, informs Airmen about the basics of basketball safety.

The most common hoops injuries include ankle sprains, finger jams and knee pops from collisions, slippery floors and aggressive play, Lund said.

"Calling basketball a 'noncontact sport' is a misnomer," Rikk Prado, 902nd Force Support Squadron Rambler Fitness Center sports manager, said. "There are numerous times when bodies are flying around at top speed. It is particularly dangerous underneath the basket where 'big men' do everything in their ability to get a loose ball."

Competing against people with similar skill levels can reduce incidental contact.

"Court awareness is the No. 1 key to avoiding injury," Prado said. "The ability to see things around you and anticipate what could happen next gives you an advantage to staying healthy longer.

"Play within the speed you can keep up with," he added. "Some people will say in order to get better, you have to play against better competition, but before you do that, practice to get stronger and faster."

Before the first dribble, players can safeguard their health by performing a few safety measures.

"Stretch for at least 35 to 40 seconds, do some lunges to warm up the legs and keep the environment safe," Lund said.

Maintaining a safe environment entails checking for dusty or slippery spots, loose floorboard nails and ensuring no one feels threatened by any players before a game, Lund said.

Wearing the right gear such as comfortable basketball shoes, ankle wraps and mouth guards are must-haves when taking the sport seriously, Prado said.

Protective gear such as knee braces is essential for players who have preexisting medical conditions, Lund added.

If tempers flare during a heated contest, a good attitude can prevent physical altercations.

"Keep calm, accept the misgivings of others and I guarantee less flying elbows and pushing or shoving will happen," Prado said.

Above all, proper hydration - drinking a bottle of water before and after a game should suffice - and bringing enough water for extended periods of play will keep the body running at maximum speed, Lund said.