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Coach Management Strategies and Athletes’ Alcohol Use

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A 2017 study published in Addiction Research & Theory examined the influence of college athletes’ perceptions of coaches on their alcohol consumption.

Results indicated that student athletes that perceived their head coaches as having higher concerned communication and lower conditional leniency related to athlete alcohol use was associated with less student alcohol consumption.

The authors recommended that commensurate education be provided to coaches to prevent and manage athlete alcohol consumption.

Coach Communication

These results suggest that coaches should provide clear messages to their student athletes about the negative consequences alcohol use, particularly high-risk heavy and binge drinking and drinking driving, can have on their future athletic and academic careers, social problems, self-image and more.

Equally important is that coaches integrate negative messages with appealing positive communication about the benefits of engaging in actions that promote athletic and academic success and performance.  These should include participating in regular physical activity and sports year-round, healthy nutrition, getting sufficient sleep, controlling stress, and regularly setting goals to avoid performance damaging substances while increasing performance enhancing habits.

Women's Soccer SLU vs. Hartwick Coach Franco Bari Lizzie Bogosian, Sophomore, #19 team on sideline

It would be easier and more cost-effective if these communications were standardized and provided to students across all sports using an existing evidence-based substance use prevention program geared to sports and fitness.

One such program example is the scripted single-session InShape Prevention Plus Wellness intervention that uses screening, feedback and goal setting to motivate students to avoid substance use while increasing their performance and health promoting habits.

Alcohol and Drug Policy

The study results also suggest that coaches should both communicate and enforce student athlete policies regarding alcohol consumption in a clear, fair, and even-handed manner.

One strategy could be to have student athletes sign written alcohol and drug policies which clearly delineate specific consequences if broken.

These policies could be distributed at the beginning of each sport season, and revisited on a regular schedule several times throughout the year.

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Conclusion

The broader implication of this study is that coaches of school, community and college sports should use clear communication about alcohol and drug use consequences for players, propose and support positive behavior alternatives, and discuss substance use expectations throughout the sport season to prevent alcohol and drug use problems and promote healthier and higher performing students and athletes.

Read the entire research abstract: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/16066359.2017.1341976

Please share this important research report with others in your area and state.  Thank you!


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