Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ideas for an alcohol talk with a college athletic team during Fall Semester

alcohol talk for athletes

I was recently asked for some ideas for a pre-season alcohol / responsibility talk with an intercollegiate athletic team. I thought I'd share what I wrote in that email with the interwebs in case someone out there is looking for that same information...

For a talk with a college athletic team, I would emphasize how they should watch out for each other like a family. They should also respect each other if they choose not to drink. A divided team runs the risk of splitting social activities into the group of drinkers and group of non-drinkers.

Also, emphasize how the seniors and captains should be role models. On teams with a drinking culture, the seniors and captains usually drink the MOST which is counter-intuitive - but this also shows how they have the ability to influence team behavior. Even if members choose to drink during the season, see if they are willing to have weekly alcohol-free activities (like Movie Night every Friday). This will not only increase their bonding and communication, but will at least take one night of drinking out of the equation.

Tell them how long alcohol can stay in their system the day after drinking, and can have a huge impact on their muscle recovery - so every time they drink after a workout, they are throwing away hours in the gym or on the field! Paint the picture that excessive drinking is what teams do when they aren't serious about their sport. Challenge them to rise above what the typical college social scene might include, because they aren't typical college students. They have elite status, they are here for a reason, and they are better than that.

The easiest way to change drinking habits is to not develop them in the first place, so they should start in with alcohol-free group activities right away when the school year starts. Individual choices become the team's business, especially on team sports. They should get on each others' cases about things they are not OK with, and it shouldn't be the coach's job to regulate their choices. The team is a family and a machine that only works as well as its weakest member.

This is the kind of stuff I would talk about, hope this helps! Go ahead and challenge them. They are likely competitive individuals, and will be very optimistic about taking the sport seriously right at the start of the year - so try to sustain that optimism!