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Basketball | Healthy Sport Index | Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program

6th

out of 10

Basketball

Girls

Basketball is a sport that requires lots of stop-and-go activity, lateral movement, jumping, flexibility, strength, agility and posture. Recommended complementary/alternate sports for basketball players include softball, tennis and track and field.

Rankings in orange circles compare this sport with nine other sports offered for this gender before customization – meaning each of the three health categories is given an equal one-third weighting. The ranking is comprised of data collected or developed from various sources (75% of score) and expert opinion (25% of score). The healthiest sports in each of the three categories – physical activity, safety and psychosocial benefits – and in each data measurement are ranked No. 1. Note: Some sports did not have significant differences between each other in the data. Learn more about our methodology.

6th

out of 10

Physical Activity

Expert Opinion Rank: 7th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Basketball’s physical activity at practices meets the average for the 10 girls sports studied by North Carolina State University. Basketball has 39.5 percent vigorous activity; the 10 girls sports average 39.6 percent. Forty-four percent of basketball practice time focuses on skills compared to 7 percent on fitness.

1 North Carolina State University research observing high school athletes in North Carolina, 2017-18.

9th

out of 10

Safety

19.6

Injury Rate2

(9th out of 10)

9.3%

Injury Time/Loss3

(6th out of 10)

0.02

Catastrophic Rate4

(7th out of 10)

8.2%

Injuries Requiring Surgery5

(10th out of 10)

4.2

Concussion Rate6

(T-8th out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: 7th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Basketball has the second-worst injury rate among girls sports, according to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. Half of all basketball injuries are to the ankle or head/face, more than any other body parts. The concussion rate for girls basketball players is almost two times greater than that of boys.

2 Injury rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
3 Percentage of all injuries resulting in greater than three weeks of time loss from the sport, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
4 Non-fatal catastrophic injury/illness rate per 100,000 exposures, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 1982-2016.
5 Percentage of all injuries requiring surgery, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
6 Concussion rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

1st

out of 10

Psychosocial

Aspen Psychosocial Survey7

3.671

Personal Social Skills

(4th out of 10)

2.949

Cognitive Skills

(2nd out of 10)

3.634

Goal-Setting

(7th out of 10)

3.767

Initiative

(5th out of 10)

3.639

Health

(7th out of 10)

1.624

Negative Experiences

(7th out of 10)

Substance Abuse

Cigarette Use8
7.9%

(3rd out of 10)

Binge Drinking9
15.3%

(2nd out of 10)

Marijuana Use10
17.1%

(6th out of 10)

Academic Achievement

Cut Class11
25.5%

(2nd out of 10)

A/A- Student12
45.8%

(7th out of 10)

Graduate From College13
71.4%

(8th out of 10)

Psychological health14

4.19

Self-Esteem

(T-1st out of 10)

2.12

Fatalism

(5th out of 10)

3.91

Self-Efficacy

(1st out of 10)

2.66

Loneliness

(2nd out of 10)

1.99

Self-Derogation

(4th out of 10)

4.3

Social Support

(T-2nd out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: T-2nd Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Basketball rates third among the 10 girls sports in the Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial survey, not far behind No. 1 softball. Developing cognitive skills are a strength for basketball. The sport has the highest level of self-esteem, according to Women’s Sports Foundation data.

7 Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial benefits survey of high school athletes nationally, 2018. Scoring ranges from 1-4, with 4 being the best except for the Negative Experiences category.

8 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

9 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport binge drinking alcohol in the past two weeks. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

10 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport using marijuana in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

11 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who cut class for a full day in the past month. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

12 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who have an average grade of an A or A-. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

13 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who expect to graduate from a four-year college. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

14 Average scores of high school seniors in the sport in psychological health report card. Data for these six categories came from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters. Scoring ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the best for self-esteem, self-efficacy and social support.

Compare Tool

Select Other Girls Sports to Compare and Scroll Down

Basketball (Girls)
Cheerleading (Girls)
Cross Country (Girls)
Lacrosse (Girls)
Soccer (Girls)
Softball (Girls)
Swimming (Girls)
Tennis (Girls)
Track and Field (Girls)
Volleyball (Girls)

Complementary Sports

Healthy Sport Index recognizes the benefits of youth engaging in more than one sport during the year, through organized or casual play. Some youth also may want or need to find alternate sports, due to interest or roster-size limitations. There are two types of benefits to sport sampling: athletic/skill development in their primary sport, and overall health. First, let’s take a look at sports that can help develop athletic/skill development.

Athletic/Skill Development

For youth whose primary sport is basketball, NBA legend and Mamba League founder Kobe Bryant recommends the following complementary sports, with Brian McCormick of Playmakers Basketball Development League providing other sports and activities.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Skills

Field Hockey, Handball, Rugby, Water Polo

Rationale: Soccer is most closely suited to basketball due to the need for footwork, the ability to read defenses, and the need to play in spaces. Sports that emphasize footwork and balance offer a good complement for basketball skills. Not to be overlooked: Meditation, reading and the ability to focus clearer and longer than opponents. Physical traits will only carry a player so far.

Not chasing an athletic scholarship or elite performance? Let’s now explore complementary sports that are less tailored to develop skills in this particular sport but can help build a well-rounded athlete for life.

Overall Health

The Healthy Sport Index Advisory Group – in consultation with the American College of Sports Medicine – made recommendations based on overall health and fitness. These are sports and activities that youth focused on a primary sport may want to consider. Considerations include whether the primary sport is a team or individual sport, the amount of time the primary sport spends at practice on fitness, and options for sports that carry low-injury risks.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Health

Aerobic Classes, Cycling, Golf, Hiking, Jogging, Judo/Karate, Jump Rope, Kayak, Pilates, Rock Climbing, Rowing, Skating, Skiing, Yoga

Rationale: Basketball is a team sport that would benefit from a companion individual sport. It has a low focus on fitness at practices and would be helped by sports with a greater emphasis on physical activity. Basketball possesses one of the highest injury rates among girls sports.

Best Practices

Tips on how to make basketball active and safer

  1. Develop fundamentals. Not only does working on fundamentals improve performance, but it lowers the risk of injury. For example, an article published in the HSS Journal reported that young athletes with less motion through their Achilles tendons experienced significantly higher injury rates.
  2. Examples of exercise that could be incorporated into basketball training include: weight training, plyometric training, and drills to improve speed, agility, reaction time, and hand-eye coordination.
  3. Ensure rest from organized basketball. For grades 9-12, that means a minimum of one rest day per week, 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and no organized basketball for two or three months. This will help reduce the risk of overuse injuries and burnout.
  4. To avoid overscheduling, ninth to 12th graders should play no more than three games a week. The maximum number of practices should be three to four a week that run no longer than 90 to 120 minutes.
  5. Play for a coach who emphasizes the physical, social and emotional benefits of playing sports – not simply winning, as often seen in AAU basketball. Research the coach’s credentials and ask if he or she is certified in basic first aid and trained in concussion management.

Learn More About Best Practices
Youth Basketball Guidelines (NBA/USA Basketball)

Jr. NBA (NBA)

Tips to Fully Optimize Basketball Performance (Hospital for Special Surgery)

USA Basketball Licensing and E-Learning Program

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)