Nutritional Supplements for a 6th Grader?

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 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:

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,,, 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.


It’s great that you’re attempting a bottom-up approach to limiting drug use among teens. But, frankly, with the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in the major leagues and all professional sports, it’s a losing battle.

The majors have made a laughable dent into the drug world that has come to dominate the sport. Bigger, stronger, faster, and winning at any cost – in spite of your site’s muffled claim that “winning isn’t everything.” Money drives the sport, and pushes the athletes to keep on injecting.

Test the pro athletes regularly, in and out of competition and without months of advanced notice (unlike the current setup), enforce a clean sport, and you’ll have better luck having clean development programs for kids!

Thanks for posting this topic. Hopefully many people will respond and offer their opinion.

I think it’s important that we make the distinction between illegal, performance enhancing DRUGS, and sports nutritional supplements. I don’t think it’s fair to lump the two together; they should be discussed separately.

Just so everyone is clear, I too agree that a 6th grade child is too young for nutritional supplements that are developed for sports purposes. However I am not opposed to young children taking basic, everyday nutritional supplements under the supervision or recommendation of their family physician. Many of today’s youths do not get the nourishment a young, growing body needs through the foods they eat. This is especially a problem because of the poor eating habits children are exposed to. Everyone is quite aware of the junk food problem we have both with adults and children. In certain cases maybe consuming nutritional supplements would be appropriate.

I would just like to make sure we are very careful when discussing the obvious ILLEGAL PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG issues and don’t include “supplements” in that conversation. They are two very different issues that should be discussed separately and here is one reason why:

There have been many documented instances of cross-contamination with illegal and banned substances found in both basic over the counter nutritional supplements as well as sports nutritional supplements. This contamination is a result of third party, contract private label manufacturers not properly cleaning their production lines between batches. In these cases the banned or illegal substances were not part of the orginal ingredients or formulas of the products that were tested; they were introduced somewhere in the production process from previous batches of another product being run on the same line.

So again, let’s not make this a witch hunt and lump unrelated topics together. Let’s discuss each separately and intelligently.

Thanks again for the topic. It is very timely and relevant.

It’s a good topic to talk about. I’m a 15 year old, and even though I’m a female athlete, I hear talk of it every so often. It;s a wierd thing to think about, but taking those drugs will kill your body. I’d rather do it the old fashion way ( working out, a GOOD food and nutrition diet, etc..) and not cheating and doing something illegal that could ruin your athletic career for the rest of your life. I just wish that professional athletes would realize that too.

— Jenna (Thunder)

Jenna –
Glad to hear your thoughts and glad you realize the dangers of illegal performance enhancing drugs and banned substances. You are doing the right thing by avoiding them. What are your team mate’s feelings? I would be interested to know if they share the same thoughts or do some of them have a different opinion? If you can, try to get some of your friends / team mates to post what they think here. Hopefully we can get a good discussion going. I know this is a big issue in high school sports so it will be great to hear from the athletes in that age group who are actually dealing with the issue.

I’m elated by this website and to have an opportunity to share my passion with others who value creating a healthier view of sports performance.

I have a teenage son who is an amazing athlete and who has taught me so much about the mindset of sports. I am also a hypnotherapist, reiki master, and have studied various consciousness developing techniques over the years. I’m not athletic or sports minded but I do have this one passion; how do we get kids to reach down deep and experience who they really are and how to tap into their full potential.

A few years ago I made a Customized Subliminal Hypnosis CD for a young man going away to college on a partial athletic scholarship. This was an experiment which has really paid off because this boys performance has excelled beyond his wildest dreams and beyond the expectations of many who have watched him over the years. A bit of a Cinderella story. For me, it has given me an idea of how I can contribute to the development of a more integrative sports model, that I refer to as “the new steroid” and the athletes I work with add, “and…it’s legal!”

The program I offer athletes was inspired by Phil Jackson (authored the book “Hard Court Warrior”). It’s strange that I’m so passionate about this subject since I don’t really know all the rules, and I don’t follow sports, but I’m thrilled to watch the synergy of a very harmonious team with every player playing at their peak. It’s so amazing, as you all know! I think, no matter how old our kids are we, as parents, want our kids to be thrilled with life, amazed at what they can do, and just tickled by the game. Right?

I feel the time has come for us all, coaches, parents, players, to really explore who we are and what we stand for. I believe our thoughts and our ability to control our attention is one of the most important components here. I think, like with most things today, our collective model of athletic performance and our idea of a good athlete is evolving. It is exciting!

If we say, “stay away from drugs” we need to also offer an alternative that makes sense to kids because they can’t be fooled. We say “stay away from drugs” yet we suggest students be medicated who have been diagnosed with ADHD, or the like. Personally, I would love to see all the pharmaceutical commercials banned from prime time television – we are sending a mixed message. There are always alternatives that can be explored which have been proven worthwhile but it all depends on how we look at any given subject.

What is my point? It’s time to open our minds, and explore. For instance:

New Zealand cyclist Hayden Roulston wins the silver medal for the Olympic men’s 4000m individual pursuit. In a pre-win interview (video interview) he recognized Reiki as the reason he was able to recover from a serious heart condition in 2006.

The boy I spoke about above had a challenging JR year, with repeat injuries. His parents tried everything to help him, all the standard therapies, but reiki was what changed his world and his game around. After trying everything mainstream, it was an “alternative” therapy that helped.

Now for EFT ( also known as emotional freedom technique. Many athletes are using this technique to help them focus, be more present in their play, and improve their games. Check out the website and you’ll find lots of evidence supporting the benefits of this simple technique used by athletes with amazing results! Anybody can do it, there is even an article of young Little Leaguers using it!

Ok…now the big whammy – Hypnosis! We are in hypnosis more than half of our day, kids are in hypnosis 85 to 90% of their day. Did you know, we are in hypnosis when we workout, run, drive, read a good book, watch TV, or surf the “net”? The subconscious mind regulates the physiology, houses memory, and is basically the hard drive for our life experience. We can use the subconscious mind to help us change habits, and “reprogram” our lives.

The American Medical Association has fully endorsed hypnosis as a viable therapy since 1958. And, you probably aren’t aware of it, but prior to chemical anesthetic hypnosis was used for surgery. Imagine that! What can we do if we can tap into the power of our subconscious mind? Hypnosis isn’t just a form of entertainment, it can be used to enrich our lives.

When my kids entered JR high school, not too long ago, I was amazed that the physical ed program didn’t included any mind/body/spirit techniques like yoga or tai chi. They were taught shuffle board and square dancing but nothing of any real value from my perspective. When I home schooled my children I was always told, “school prepares kids for the real world” well…does it? How often do you play shuffle board or go square dancing? Is there something we’re missing?

These techniques I’ve mentioned are being used in so me schools with great results; improving grades, performance of all kinds, and focus. Alternative practices are being used in hospitals, recommended by doctors, reiki is currently being accepted by the military, and the government has even offered grant money to integrative therapies to help Vets returning from the WAR.

The time has come for us to expand our awareness and to offer some alternatives to the “stay away from drugs” slogan. As a collective society what vision do we hold for our young ones, where do we want to go from here? And the big question, are our current sports idols modeling a way of being that we want our children to emulate? And…are we all being the best that we can be?

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