🟡 Reduce as a Coach 🚦


As a COACH, there are a number of teaching points that a coach can emphasize that will reduce the unwarranted blows to the head, which may lead to concussions. To help prevent a player on the court from the risks of a concussion, the following coaching tips are to be strongly considered by coaches at any level.

Many of these points are seen as common sense in basketball but for players new to the sport or who may come from another more physical sport, you as a coach should not take it for granted that the players will know this.  The best treatment for a concussion is prevention. We can all play in a role in ensuring the athletes on the floor and in your care have a safe and positive experience with the game!  Help make basketball a sport for life for everyone!


⚕️ The Sport Medicine & Science Council of Manitoba offers a Concussion Workshop that can be requested and set up for your team and parents.  Read more...


When players are asked to “play hard”, “be tough” or “get your head over the ball” it often create pictures in the players' mind that are different then what the coach intends. Excessive forward leaning encourages an unbalanced position leaving the head vulnerable: The arms are down so, therefore the head is protruding.  The player is slow to move backward. It is important that coaches teach a balanced stance. In Diagram 1 we can see the player on the left is leaning forward. The centre of gravity is outside the body frame. The player on the right has their centre of gravity within the body frame. The player’s elbows are over the knees. Stance work can be done in the warm-up as well as in skill drills. 

🏀 ON BALL DEFENCE                                

When guarding a player with the ball the same danger can occur if the defender leans in with their arms down. In the first example, the defender is moving forward to put body pressure on the ball. If the offensive player leads with the elbow the head is the first thing that will get hit. In the second example, we again see the arms up to protect the head. Offensive players should be taught to pivot without leading with the elbow. Space pivoting by using the shoulder is more effective and safer for all involved.    


Teach proper defense in defending a player driving to the basket without 'undercutting' a player shooting a layup or shot and allowing for him/her to properly land on the floor.                                                 


Similar to undercutting, teach a proper technique of blocking out by getting your player between the defense and rim, while still allowing an opponent a safe opportunity to land on the floor.

🏀 REBOUNDING                                  

Teach proper offensive or defensive rebounding techniques which do not allow for excessive swinging of elbows.  


Teach proper defensive 'closeouts' to contest another player shooting the ball, while allowing the shooter to land on the floor safely. 

🏀 SCREENING                                         

When teaching how to set a proper screen, players should be taught to keep their elbows within their own “body cylinder” while grabbing their wrist with the other hand and covering the groin area and pressing the elbows to the hips.  They may also make two fists and hold them in front of the groin area and press the elbows to the hips. Letting the elbows point out, can result in a defender running at full speed into an elbow which may lead to serious injuries including a concussion.

🏀 ARM POSITION DEFENCE                              

To reduce the chances of an offensive player colliding with the elbows of a defender, teach your players to fully extend their arms while playing on-ball defence.                                                                 

This is a better defensive position for other reasons (ball deflections, bigger defensive presence) and will reduce a common injury of a player being hit in the head with an elbow. Playing with arms up on defence to protect vs elbows. When playing with the arms up the player should keep the head behind the arms. This way they provide protection. She is still within their cylinder and not violating the rules.    

🏀 POST DEFENSE                                                                            

When playing from behind the danger point is when the defender leans in close with the head exposed. In the first example, we see the defender has their arms down.

In the second example, the defender has one point of contact, which is allowed by rule, but the other arm is up. She is anticipating the move of the offensive player. She is on balance.   

🏀 TAKING A CHARGE            

One of the most dangerous areas for basketball players is when she meets another player who runs or dribbles into her. The act of properly taking a charge in basketball is vital to ensure that all players involved in the action do it safely.  If not properly taught by the coach, the odds of a player hitting the back of their head on the floor greatly increases.  The key points to teach include how to get into the proper position at the right time, how to absorb the initial contact and how to fall and slide to the floor with your ‘butt’ taking the brunt of the fall, (vs. your head).                                                                                                 

The incorrect method is shown above. In Diagram 7 we can see that the player is unprepared for the contact. She is standing tall with their arms down. When the contact occurs in Diagram 8 the player’s movement starts by throwing their head back. She is extending the spine. In Diagram 9 you can see that this action leads to the head being the first point of contact with the floor. Many players will reach back with a hand in this situation. It may break the fall, but this is one of the main causes of injury to the hand or wrist in basketball. 

To begin with, the player must prepare herself for the contact. She is getting ready to TAKE ON the other player. She is flexed at the waist, the arms are up to cushion the blow and protect the body and face (Diagram 10). The player’s first action is to sit back further on their hips and to drop their chin to their chest. She is flexing not extending (Diagram 11). The first point of contact will be their butt (Diagram 12). These are the biggest muscles in the body. She is preparing to do a backward roll. She then distributes the force by rolling onto their back and putting their arms out to the side (Diagram 13). The neck stays flexed preventing the head from hitting the floor. The feet come up to protect the body if the opponent loses their balance and falls forward.                       

A great way to teach taking a charge is to use the ball. In a safe area, away from other players or obstructions, the player rolls the ball on the floor (Diagram 14). Slow at first. She sprints to get in front of the ball, intercepting the driveline of the ball. She prepares to take the charge by flexing at the hip with the arms up (Diagram 15). She sits on the ball and tucks their chin to their chest (Diagram 16). She then rolls back onto the floor (Diagram 18). She will go slow at first but advance the speed as she feels more comfortable.  Remove the ball and now have a guided offensive player push her. We need to practice these skills and not expect that players automatically know what to do when playing tough or diving, rolling or falling on the floor.


To avoid unnecessary contact of players in practices, you should eliminate drills where two players are diving on the floor for a loose ball at the same time. 


Ensure the practice/playing area is safe. Ensure that there is adequate padding (2+ inch thick, 6+ feet tall, 10+ feet wide) on the walls under each basket (including cross courts if using them in practices), that all volleyball/badminton holes are securely covered, any other obstacles near the playing surface are removed or padded (bleachers, benches, chairs, score table, stage, climbing apparatus, etc), unused basketballs are not left on the court during practices, and the floor is swept and dry of any dust or liquids.