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Has Athletic Performance in Your Student-Athlete Diminished?

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Has Athletic Performance in Your Student-Athlete Diminished?

Parents, have you noticed the athletic performance in your student-athlete diminishing lately? If so, there are numerous possibilities from lack of sleep to stress, as well as just being too busy. But have you given thought to the possibility of drug and alcohol use? Over the last few months I’ve continued to hear more stories of how marijuana use is on the increase, so I decided to do a bit more research on the subject. As you may know FCA has a program called One Way 2 Play - Drug Free, and steroid use has been the main focus for a number of years, along with underage drinking.

“Illicit drug use among teenagers has continued at high rates, largely due to the popularity of marijuana. In 2012, 6.5 percent of 8th graders, 17.0 percent of 10th graders, and 22.9 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month—an increase among 10th and 12th graders from 14.2 percent, and 18.8 percent in 2007. Daily use has also increased; 6.5 percent of 12th graders now use marijuana every day, compared to 5.1 percent in the 2007.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse- December 2012)

“Marijuana use poses the greatest threat to high school athletes’ future, say some coaches, who also indicate the use of pot has increased since it was legalized (in Colorado ) last year.” According to wrestling Coach Barrett Goyler of Poudre (Co.) High School, he has seen the impact of marijuana use. “This kid was a good wrestler; he enjoyed wrestling. He started using marijuana then started skipping classes. He got two F’s then became ineligible. Then he starts skipping practice. One thing leads to another. Then he’s got problems at home; he’s running away from home. You can see it, one thing leads to another, and then another.” (

On most (college) campuses, the athletic training room is ‘rumor central,’ according to Charles Thompson, head athletic trainer at Princeton University. "When you talk to athletes, you hear the stories," says Thompson, chair of the National Athletic Trainers' Association's College/University Athletic Trainers' Committee. ‘There are a lot of athletic trainers who feel that marijuana use on campus has grown exponentially, even among the athletic population.’”

The issue has been smoldering for some time. In 2011, Sports Illustrated reported that nearly a dozen first-round prospects in the 2010 NFL draft were known to have marijuana use in their past, leading one team personnel official to term the situation an ‘epidemic.’ “ (Paul Steinbach,

Life does get busy, especially with teenagers in the home, but there are some signs you can pay attention to if you sense some unusual changes in your student’s athletic performance.

According to Dr. Gary Wadler, a New York University School of Medicine professor and lead author of the book “Drugs and the Athlete”, marijuana is stored in the body fat and its effects may be long lasting. “It has been shown that performance skills can be impaired for as long as 24 hours after usage.” He states the effects of marijuana on performance:

· Impairs skills requiring eye-hand coordination and a fast reaction time
· Reduces motor coordination, tracking ability and perceptual accuracy
· Impairs concentration, and time appears to move more slowly (from “Drug and Sports”)

Dr. Jeff Milroy interviewed a sophomore student-athlete (Division I institution) on drinking alcohol and this was her response:

“Why do I choose not to drink? Sure I know it is illegal at my age, but to be honest, that isn’t my number one reason for not drinking. See, I expect my teammates to perform at their highest ability,so why shouldn’t they expect the same from me? Drinking and using other drugs compromises my ability to perform at my best. If I chose to use alcohol or other drugs I would be letting them down. Everyone always seems to forget about practices during the week; athletes who choose to drink only think about game day. I don’t think they see the importance of practicing at their best. I know drinking on a Saturday night affects the way I feel and how I performance practice on Monday and Tuesday. I had a coach once tell me – play as you practice and practice like you play – It really makes sense doesn’t it?” (From

For more information on One Way 2 Play-Drug Free, visit

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