This is a review of the sports injury risk research conducted by Toni Caparros, Marti Casals, Alvaro Solana and Javier Pena.
Injuries are a fact of life within professional sports. Every season teams lose money due to injured players. Games are lost, fans are disappointed, and players are unable to play the game they love. This study was conducted to order to determine risk factors for injuries in professional basketball players in order to develop some preventative strategies to minimize injuries in the future.
A professional male basketball team was followed for three seasons. The data collected included 2613 observations, 246 games, and 33 different players. Specifically, the observers were looking for contact and non-contact injuries that lead to time loss. Time loss meant that the player, at a minimum, missed the next practice or game. Injuries included in the study occurred during practice or an actual game. Physiological, speed, distances, mechanical load, locomotor, and performance variables were all tracked.
The average age of the players involved was 24.9 years. Over the three seasons 11 of those players were injured. This included 29 time-loss injuries for a total of 244 missed games. The two variables that were highly related to time-loss injuries were fewer decelerations and less distance covered – in other words, players who had a lower workload were more likely to be injured. This specifically related to players who decelerated less than three times or covered less than 1.3 miles. The number of minutes a player is on the court would be the most obvious reason for a lower workload but it might also be related to readiness, performance, fatigue or even dependent on the particular of their opponents.
Teams need to look at how to best minimize time-loss injuries and sports injury risks. The players’ workload needs to be closely managed, ensuring that all players work hard enough to decrease their chances of being injured. Part of this can be done through practices. Decelerations are related to the players’ ability to change direction. This would indicate that strength workouts are important. Teams may need to give some players more playing time at the beginning of the season in order to help prevent injuries later in the season when injuries can critically hurt a team’s chances of making it into the playoffs and winning. Players can experience peaks in their workloads (especially during highly competitive games). When this occurs teams need to make sure the players have a sufficient recovery period. The amount of time needed varies by player so teams need to have individual plans in place to meet the needs of each player.
In conclusion, teams can use tracking systems during practices and games in order to monitor the workload each player is experiencing, especially in the areas of deceleration and distance covered. Players that are identified as having a lower than acceptable workload will need to have their routines altered. This will help lower the risk of injury to the players, a positive gain for everyone involved.
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