Return to Practice/Play

NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource

Once your athlete has been cleared to play by a physician or the injury has been treated appropriately, you must determine if the athlete is ready to play. In order to be sure your athlete can return to practice or play there are several activities you should have your athlete perform. If, at any time during the tests, the athlete shows signs of favoring the injured side (i.e., limping, tentative movements compared to non-injured side, pain), the athlete is not ready to return to full practice or play. If an activity listed below can be accomplished without favoring the limb or causing pain, move on to the next activity on the list. Continue to progress down the list until sport-specific activities can be accomplished at full speed without favoring the injured part. Once all activities can be accomplished at full speed without pain/limping, allow the athlete to return to activity.

Following a lower extremity injury, apply these simple steps: (Remember, the joint should be taped or the athlete should wear a brace):

Check if completed:

__ 1. Jump in place, landing on both legs
__ 2. Jump in place landing on one leg at a time - non-injured leg, then to injured leg (note height and ability to land on toes)
__ 3. Jogging straight - start at a slow pace and progress as tolerated, working towards running a sprint.
__ 4. Jogging curves - start at a slow pace and progress as tolerated, working towards sprinting curves.
__ 5. Circles and/or Figure 8s - begin with larger circles or figure 8s at a slower pace and progress towards tighter formations with faster speeds. Go both directions using circles.
__ 6. Cuts and pivots - begin large with a slow pace, working smaller and faster. Cut both directions.
__ 7. Sport-Specific activities - have the athlete perform activities he/she will encounter playing the sport, such as stop-and-goes, lay-ups, quick side movements, etc. Begin at a slow pace and work towards 90-100% effort.

Back to Sport Injury Resource Main Page
American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance