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Coach's Guide to a Drug Free Basketball Team

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Submitted by Evelyn Robinson of rehabs.com.

As a coach, your main duty is not only to try and win as many games as possible throughout the season but also to be a primary role model to each and every one of your players. You may not realize it, but you have a huge influence on those that you coach. Chances are the players you are coaching may also be students at the elementary school, middle school, high school, or even collegiate level, and because of this, they look up to strong leaders during these transitional periods in their lives.

This is why talking to your players about drug use is extremely important. When your players hear your message to them, it isn't from some other random person that they'll ignore, but it is coming straight from their coach. It is not only what you tell your players regarding drugs that is important, but also how you end up delivering this message to them.

You shouldn't try to dance around the subject, and you need to be as blunt as possible. After all, these young people are the future of the world, and your words will be used by many as a guide towards how they end up behaving in the very near future.

What Are The Main Reasons That Players Use Drugs?

As a coach, you should always keep in mind that any one of your players may be using drugs in their everyday lives. Typically an athlete will seek drugs because of pressure that they are under in many different scenarios:

  • Pressure to keep up with what friends are doing
  • Pressure to continue doing well in each game
  • Pressure to always win, regardless of the consequences

While many athletes will pick up drugs because their friends or team mates encourage them, others choose to use them because of stress that they are under. They use drugs to help them feel better.

After your team ends up winning a game, players often feel a certain "high" associated with performing well and doing a great job. Because of this, they may seek out drugs in order to keep up with this feeling. Other times, your team may lose, and because certain players feel depressed, they will turn to drugs in order to feel better.

What Should Coaches Aim To Discuss During Their Talks With Players?

It is important that, as a coach, you allow yourself to clear up any common misconceptions that players may have about using drugs. Here are some general topics that you may wish to go over with players:

Good Feelings Followed by Bad

While players may believe that drugs can make them feel great in the beginning, feelings afterward are often tough to handle and at times can feel depressing. You should tell each of your athletes that drugs are not meant to be used as a coping mechanism or a type of outlet in order to solve problems. Drugs can only make a person forget about a problem, but it will never go away unless it is confronted.

Basketball Performance Does Not Improve

Many players who are new to drugs may believe that certain substances are helpful to their game and, therefore, will boost their performance when out on the court. This is far from the truth. Always emphasize that while stimulants or relaxers may sound tempting, they actually end up hampering athletic progress more than helping it.

How to Communicate Your Message on Drugs to All Players

While you may not know how to approach your players with regard to discussing the topic of drug use, there are plenty of ways that you can build up team morale to encourage everyone to stay clean both on and off the court.

  1. Tell Your Players Your Policies Right Out Of The Gate
    It is important that you set a standard from the very beginning that drug use is not tolerated with any player and any player caught will be sanctionized and potentially sent to a drug treatment facility. Clearly explain the consequences, risks involved, and why it is much smarter to stay clear of drugs.

  2. Bring In Former Players
    Although your players may already look at you as a role model it is important to bring in someone closer to their age that they can relate to. For instance, if you are coaching a high school basketball team, consider bringing in a former player that has gone on to do well in their lives. Have them explain, how they have gotten where they are today by not using drugs, and working hard towards a goal.

  3. Reach Out To Players And Let Them Know That They Can Talk To You
    Besides their friends, many athletes simply do not feel comfortable talking to their parents or other family members about drug use. Because of this, you should always emphasize that, as a coach, you are always available to talk about anything.

As a coach, you have one of the most important jobs when it comes to interacting with your athletes on a weekly basis. Your job as a role model should not only be to win games but also to discuss sensitive topics like drug use with your players, in order to keep them clean and headed towards success with everything that they do.

Also see: Understanding and Preventing Steroid Abuse in Sports