Doesn’t it seem like we’re getting hit with a lot of bad news these days? Well, here’s some good news to brighten your day: Little Leaguers are in agreement that use of performance-enhancing substances is bad.
Sure, they don’t seem to entirely comprehend the health risks of using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. But your eleven- and twelve-year-old boys do know what has gone on, and they’re very clear that they don’t like it. Many Little Leaguers say that they’re disappointed with their favorite players, and some even call those under scrutiny “cheaters.” But more importantly, these young players are vowing not to let performance-enhancing substances affect their own lives. Baseball leagues across the country are having their players wear “I Won’t Cheat” patches and pledge to remain clean.
But remember, parents, just because your kids are in the know about pop culture doesn’t mean you should let a teachable moment pass you by. Try discussing with your kids not just cheating, but also the physical and emotional toll steroids can have on the body. And be conscious not to be too hard on your kid’s hero – the Little Leaguers mentioned in the article above agreed that the pros “messed up,” but they also believe the players deserve a second chance.
Teen athletes often turn to energy drinks for a boost during physical activity — or for an added edge during competition. But be aware: Energy drinks are not designed to replace lost fluids during exercise. Rather than re-hydrating their bodies, these beverages may actually lead to dehydration.
It’s also important to be aware that some energy drinks have between 150-500 milligrams of caffeine in 8 ounces. Unfortunately, the amount of caffeine is not often listed on the can. To provide a comparison on the caffeine content, 8 ounces of coffee has about 108 milligrams of caffeine, brewed tea has 50 milligrams and 12 ounces of coke has 34 milligrams. Take a look at this chart to find out the caffeine content in many popular energy drinks – and see the huge range that exists.
For more, listen to this related NPR story, The Buzz on Energy Drinks.
Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks, such as Gatorade, Powerade or Accelerade, which are intended to re-hydrate the body. Sports drinks provide sugars, which the body burns to create energy and replenish electrolytes, helping to maintain salt and potassium balances in the body. Energy drinks, on the other hand, are formulated to deliver high concentrations of caffeine and other stimulants to give the drinker a rush of energy. Energy drinks and their purported energy performance benefits are available to pretty much everyone regardless of their dangers and side effects. In spite of their increasing popularity, there is still controversy over their safety and suitability of these products for daily use.
Athletes, please take serious caution in consuming these energy drinks. And remember the importance of hydrating your body — with water and sports drinks — as we enter the summer months.
Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator
Cleveland Indians Baseball
Probably the most important part of any training program is nutrition. It is our foundation for our strength training and conditioning programs. One of our main goals for our players is to eat breakfast every morning. This seems to be a huge challenge for so many people in today’s society. You should have a game plan every day and that plan should include breakfast. During the season, game times and travel schedules make it difficult to adhere to a complete nutrition plan; but the one thing our players understand is how important it to “kick start” their metabolism and put fuel in their engines. That fuel is food.
Why is breakfast so important? First of all, you will be more alert throughout the day — and that should help you out in school. Secondly, you need enough fuel to train. One time, I was training two players who did the exact same workout and I noticed when they were finishing with the bike sprint program that one player was really struggling. I asked them both if they ate breakfast. It turns out that one did and the other admitted he didn’t. Wow, what a difference! There was no comparison who of the two was getting more out of his workout.
I understand it can sometimes be tough to get out of bed in the morning. But preparing to eat breakfast doesn’t have to take a long time. Choose some lower fat options that can be easily prepared — cereal (low sugar) with skim milk, instant oatmeal, a banana or maybe just a piece of whole wheat toast. The key is to be consistent. Game Plan for it every day. Of course we always prefer a high-powered breakfast so you have enough calories to kick start your day and perform well in school and in training.
Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator
Cleveland Indians Baseball
A brief conversation with another Dad on back-to-school night several years ago, when my youngest daughter was in middle-school, was an eye-opener for me. And it has stuck with me ever since. This dad’s son was a new, gung-ho wrestler. The question was simple and innocent: “Dad, will you take me to that vitamin store at the mall? I heard about this drink that can help me build up for wresting.” This kid was in 6th grade! The dad responded with a firm “no, never.” Before we could discuss where the young guy picked up the idea, they called the assembly of middle-school parents to order.
Scenarios like this no doubt occur more often than we would like. And teens are searching for information about steroids and performance enhancing supplements on the internet. Their keyword searches bring them to e-commerce sites touting the benefits of steroids and other so-called performance enhancing substances. Not good. There has to be an alternative voice.
Today, The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced a first-of- its-kind micro-site at www.drugfree.org/playhealthy that focuses on educating teens on the dangers of illegal steroids and other performance enhancing substances (PES).
We hope this site will “interrupt” the teens searching for information long enough to give them pause, and consider healthy ways to get a competitive advantage.
This blog, Coaches Corner, is key part of the new micro-site. It’s really a forum for parents, coaches and athletes to connect with one another and to offer up their own insights, concerns and stories about the dangers and negative consequences of using performance enhancing substances. The blog will feature contributions from coaches, trainers and parents about many aspects of playing healthy.
One good place to start is to check out the 9-page Parent Talk Kit. This guide provides parents and coaches with helpful tips and guidance about talking to kids about this issue, including 8 steps for getting involved, 4 steps for staying connected, and a series of sample “conversation” starters – all around the topic of performance enhancing substances.
You can help by emailing other coaches and parents to let them know about the new site. Please send them the link: www.drugfree.org/playhealthy.
Please check back for updates, or subscribe to the blog feed.
By Joe Keenan
As executive vice president and director of digital product development, Joe Keenan is responsible for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s web communications and operations, including program websites, content development, online advertising and social networking initiatives. In his 8 years at the Partnership, Joe has grown the Partnership’s website, drugfree.org,, from a single site to a suite of robust informational sites and online tools in support of the Partnership’s mission to reduce illicit drug use and support healthy families.
A competitive distance runner since 1974, Joe has competed in two New York City Marathons and many local and regional cross-country races. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two teenage daughters — both avid soccer players in high school and club programs.