The Coach's Playbook Against Drugs
Do You Know the Score --

On your special role?

The purpose of this playbook is to help you as a coach educate your athletes about the dangers of drugs. Each year, 7 million boys and girls in this Nation are involved in sports at middle schools, junior high schools, or high schools. These students are the catalysts for a healthy chain reaction of involvement and school spirit that includes team captains, players, other students, school personnel, and the community. And it all begins with you -- the coach -- as the pivotal player.

Athletic coaches have a special relationship with athletes and other students but often underestimate their influence on these young people.You are a role model in the eyes of a young athlete, and you occupy this leadership role at a very significant and impressionable time in the athlete's life. When you talk to your players and students about the dangers of drugs, the message is more effective because "Coach" is behind those words.

What you tell your athletes about the use of alcohol and other drugs is very important. Don't take the subject lightly -- the lives and future of the young people you coach are truly at stake. Equally important, the standards that you set by example will become the guide for students' behavior.If you want athletes to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, you must send that message clearly and forcefully, in words and in actions. If team members do not hear your opinion on this important subject, they may assume that you don't care. Many coaches may believe that their players are not the ones who are using alcohol and drugs, but they may be mistaken.

Coaching your students to remain drug free is a championship play. Join our team.

Larry Bird
Coach -- Indiana Pacers
Former Boston Celtic
1998 Basketball Hall of
Fame Inductee
12-Time All Star
3-Time NBA MVP
2-Time NBA Finals MVP

On why players use drugs?

Coaches need to be aware of why athletes -- perhaps even their own players -- may be using alcohol and other drugs.

Athletes can be overwhelmed by pressure:

  • Pressure to win.

  • Pressure to perform well.

  • Pressure to maintain a "cool" image.

Some athletes turn to drugs, including alcohol, to relieve stress and feel good.When athletes use alcohol or other drugs, they may achieve this goal by feeling an initial "high." Other times, players turn to drugs to sustain a good feeling. Coming off the field after a winning game, for example, athletes may try to prolong that winning feeling by turning to a mind-altering drug. On the other hand, if their team has lost the game, they may want to replace depressed feelings with a "high" from a mood-altering drug.

On how drugs really affect athletes?

As you know, using drugs will not relieve stress or allow a game high to last forever. By clearing up your players' misconceptions about the effects of drugs and explaining how drugs really affect our bodies, you may be able to keep your team drug free. In particular, explain that:

  • Drugs may make players feel good initially, but that the good feelings are typically followed by unpleasant ones. Drugs don't solve problems; they create problems and make coping with them even harder.Drugs don't make stress go away; they create stress.

  • Drugs will not enhance performance on the playing field. With the possible exception of one type of drug -- anabolic steroids -- it is simply not true that using drugs will enhance players' performance.

  • Drugs actually interfere with an athlete's physical and mental ability. And, even though steroids may improve short-term performance, the physical side effects and emotional damage they cause far outweigh any gains.