Submitted by: Brian Parker, Taylor Hooton Foundation
High school girls are the fastest growing user group of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs). Coaches of young women are in a prime position to combat this problem by addressing it head-on. The Taylor Hooton Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education young people and their adult influencers on the dangers of these substances, says pressuring student-athletes to perform at their highest level and achieve their fitness goals should be balanced with education on the healthiest way to do it. This includes discussions about the dangers of illegal substances and creating a team culture that promotes body positivity.
Educate your team on the dangers of supplements
During your first team meeting, address appearance and performance-enhancing substance use. It is imperative you set clear expectations with players about what is and is not allowed and share some of the dangers. For example, while dietary supplements might help with weight loss, gaining muscle and increasing energy, the results are temporary and can cause permanent damage to the body. Furthermore, up to 25 percent of over-the-counter dietary supplements are tainted with banned substances.
Revisiting this topic throughout the season helps players understand the importance of complying with your policy. It also reminds them — as they deal with the pressures of performance — the safest ways to achieve their goals are through proper nutrition, exercise, rest, stress management and practicing their sport.
Be body positive
Sport is a platform that promotes both physical and mental growth for young adults. It, however, is also often an impetus for them to want to change the shape of their body and to compare their form against others. Coaching staffs should focus on helping their student-athletes maintain positive attitudes toward their bodies with an overall goal of good health and well-being. Work with each player to understand both her individual strengths and her weaknesses and to set realistic goals for improvement.
For more information on understanding and preventing the use of anabolic steroids and APEDs, contact the Taylor Hooton Foundation.