Basketball is a fun sport that most kids have probably tried at one time or another. From “Little Dribblers” on up, it is a great game. Kids need to understand the rules of basketball and how much fun it can be when all participants follow those rules. Because it is a contact sport, basketball injuries occur very often. There’s lots of flailing of arms and throwing elbows while trying to go for rebounds or fending off a competitor. Kids who want to participate in basketball or any sport usually are aware of the risks involved. That is why they are taught the fundamentals of the game, and learn to be safe playing on the court with other players. Those who play in team sports bond with teammates, and that bond carries on through their school years and many times, beyond.
Strength training is important for preparing for any sport. For basketball, strengthening the muscles around the knees can be very helpful. Common injuries in athletes who play basketball are sprained knees, sprained ankles, jammed or broken fingers, broken noses, and poked eyes. Other possibilities are colliding with other players, walls, or posts, and head concussions. Players must wear the correct types of basketball shoes, protective mouth guards, and eye and nose gear as needed. Doctors may prescribe certain bracing be worn by athletes who have experienced injuries of their knees. (Now that we’ve pointed out a few hazards, let’s talk about some fun things.)
One of the most exciting March activities for college students and basketball fans alike is March Madness! A total of 65 men’s teams vie for the Men’s Division I NCAA championship. Women’s Division I NCAA Basketball playoffs feature 64 teams competing to reach the Championships. At the time of this writing, conference tournaments are being played to see who gets picked to compete in the regional play-offs and later advance to the Road to the Final Four. This is the culmination of a season of hard-played basketball, with many games won by a margin of one-point. It’s hard to pick the real winner when both teams are equally skilled, but the team with the top score gets to move on.
Another exciting tournament held each year is the National Invitational Tournament, which invites teams that did not make the NCAA playoffs to first compete on campus sites, with the semi-final and final game played at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. This is also an honor to the teams that almost made it to the Big Dance, but maybe missed by only a point or two in play-off games. Because the NCAA tournament is required to host winners from all Division I conferences, chances are that some of the ones that missed an invitation to that tournament may have had better records. Also, pro basketball teams have been competing now for a while, so we will watch as they begin their playoffs, as well. There’s plenty to enjoy if you are a round-ball fan, before we move on to baseball!
Each year, many talented college players will be chosen to move on to professional basketball next season. So, if your “little dribbler” aspires to play like his/her hero when he or she is older, teach him or her, to play safe, play fair, and keep in good physical condition. Parents can start them off by providing them with healthy diets and teaching good sportsmanship. Whether they choose to be an athlete, or a scholar, or both, leadership qualities are taught at home, at a young age.