Youth sports took a hit during the pandemic, something the USA Basketball Foundation hopes to help rectify this year.
While getting dressed and ready to play takes place mostly at home, there are a few areas related to apparel and accessories that you should reinforce with your players to maximize their comfort, safety, and enjoyment.
FIT. Because basketball is a game that relies on agility and efficient movement, players should wear shirts, shorts and sneakers that fit their body size and type. This includes shirts / tanks that are no longer than the hips, shorts that are pulled up to the waist and tied (if there is a drawcord), socks that are not floppy, and sneakers that are tied tightly and laced to the top eyelets. Regardless of a player’s (or his/her family’s) means, coaches should communicate the basics around properly fitting apparel for all players to adhere to as best they can.
FUNCTION. Depending on the age group and level you coach you may have more or less desire for player self-expression. Compression products including padded undergarments and tights are becoming more and more a part of the standard uniform at all levels. Gauge what your players require and encourage them to wear what makes them most confident and comfortable on the court, but consider limiting non-essential items if you believe they’re more of a distraction than addition.
SAFETY. Basketball consists of more contact than many perceive, and as the coach your players’ health and safety are of critical importance. Research shows that 30% of high school basketball players sustain injuries to the face and head*. In line with the growing trend of professionals and members of the USA Senior National Team members protecting themselves by wearing mouthguards, USA Basketball recommends introducing mouthguards to players at the youth level to get them comfortable playing with them at a young age.
*High School RIO, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2013/2014. R. Dawn Comstock, PhD.