When it comes to youth basketball and young sports in general one thing is always going to be certain no matter what team you are… at some point in your career coaching youth basketball you will come across your fair share of injuries. When you do, not only will you need to know how to address the issue but you will also need to know how to deal with the concern for your player long term. So whether you have yet to have an injury on your basketball team or are a seasoned vet at caring for on-court injuries, read on to find our simple no-nonsense guide to caring for injuries and helping your injured players to thrive with them.
Strategizing for Temporary Physical Restrictions
When injured, one of the most common feelings an injured player has is resentment. After an injury a player may sit looking at his or her physically-able teammates who may not be giving their all on the court or going full force at practice. This can lead to a little anger when the injured player is unable to get out on the court and the player may find it disrespectful that their teammates are taking opportunities for granted.
These emotions will give you a difficult balance to find but it is doable. If the doctor is simply saying that the injured player can return to training when they are able to play, it may lengthen their physical and mental recovery. Meanwhile, having the injured player continue to show up for practice may lead to more and more frustration.
To balance this properly, with the permission of a doctor, you might try to involve the injured player in some drills and practices in ways that limit the player for their safety. As the coach you may also wish to modify any exercises to make certain that the injured teammate can continue to practice and stay fit for their team. Either way, the extra effort is worthwhile as this helps the player to continue to feel as though they are a part of the team.
Another option is for your coaching staff to devise unique exercises for the injured player to complete that will help to strengthen their new-found weaknesses. You can also do this with drills. While it will not be the same drills as the rest of your team, remember, the main key is to keep your player feeling as though they are a member of the team as they heal.
If none of this works, turn to imagery. Ask your injured teammate to imagine certain scenarios. This allows the player to use mental imagination to practice drills and techniques when they simply cannot get on the court for any purpose.
Helping Injured Players Who Are Feeling Isolated
When a player who is used to being a part of the team is suddenly left off the court, they can begin to feel isolated. As a coach, you can help to combat these feelings of isolation, first of all, by remaining positive yourself. This is where you will start to build a support network around the injured player. This will begin with you as a coach and then the player’s parents.
You can support your players by listening and not judging. You will also need to show plenty of compassion to the injured player who is going through a range of emotions that most adults may not be able to pinpoint right off the bat. You should always point out improvements and share any other situations that perhaps you yourself have been through. This can help to build trust and comradery.
Lessening an Injured Player’s Anxiety
Pain in and of itself can cause anxiety. However, the fear of it returning is just as real to a player. Especially a young one.
One great method for lessening anxiety is healing imagery. Have your injured player to imagine being healthy, getting back on the court and returning to what they love. If this is not working, add in a little positive self-talk. Teach your player instead of saying “I can’t get on the court” to say “I will get back on the court very soon.”
When coaching youth basketball, injuries just come with the territory, however, when you know how to handle them… and better yet… how to help your players to handle them – you will be well on your way to becoming a better coach for both you and your team as a whole.