What Athletes NEED TO KNOW About Alcohol, Their Training, and Competition

In looking through my Google alerts the other day I came across this, Parent Tip: Know! The Athlete/Alcohol Link at the website SouthingtonSteps.0rg. My thinking was that I had come across some very good and pertinent information supporting athletes' abstinence of the use of alcohol. What I found was not only solid information but also some very impressive statistical data that all alcohol consuming athletes (underage or not) should know--things I had feelings and thoughts about but no real supportive data to back up those thoughts and feelings.

The piece is short, yet very impactful, and one I would highly recommend for any parent and/or junior high and high school athlete. The data highlighted in this piece has deep meaning for the competitive athlete as it settles any confusion over the fact that alcohol use has negative, lasting effects on their training and performance. Here are those facts in their entirety as I did not feel it appropriate to just highlight them:

• "Approximately 14 days of training effect is lost after one night of drinking = Two weeks worth of training, wasted.

• "Alcohol suppresses your training hormones for up to four days = You may show up to practice, but no improvement comes, because the hormones you need to gain training results and conditioning are not there.

• "Athletes need to be fast on their feet and quick to react, but alcohol impairs reaction time for up to 12 hours after consumption = Head to practice the next day (following a night of drinking) and it will show in your performance.

• "Before a high school athlete even steps foot onto the field, court, ice, etc., overall performance potential is lowered by about 11.4% after recent heavy drinking = Your potential of achieving personal "best" just decreased."

(original "source - The American Athletic Institute," AAI)

And that statement the article quotes from the director of AAI, John Underwood, "Remember when you are partying, that somewhere, someone is training...and when you meet them, they will beat you," is a very powerful one for me. Even though I was not a partier (drinker) as an athlete, when I trained--and put in those extra hours after everyone else had left the gym, it is the essence in Mr. Underwood's statement I ALWAYS kept in mind. I literally thought that!!! And let me tell you something, it inspired me, a lot!!! I wanted to know, without any doubt whatsoever, that if I were to lose in competition, I had put it all on the table. My "thought" went something like this:

"For me to lose, you are going to have to beat me, and to do that you will have to train harder than me, focus better than me, and do more of the right things than me, and that is something I absolutely refuse to let happen."

Never a spoken thought, just an inspirational one. It was something I used a lot as an athlete through my last year of high school and on into college.

Oh, and one more thing, one of those "do more of the right things," at least for me, included staying away from alcohol. I believe that this helped me in more ways than one.

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