The Life of an Athlete Coaches’ Playbook is a valuable resource for teaching student athletes to make better lifestyle choices in order to optimize performance both on and off the field. The Playbook provides the tools necessary to proactively influence student athletes and their support system–parents, coaches, athletic directors.
Influence of a Coach
Coaches vastly underestimate the amount of influence they have with their student athletes, especially the amount of influence they have over the lifestyle choices of young athletes when it comes to alcohol and drug use.
Key Components of LoA
LoA provides coaches with guidance in the following key areas to help student athletes perform better as players and the rest of their lives:
Nutrition – Athletes perform at their best when they eat a high carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat meal 3 hours before training and have a snack every hour. In addition, when it comes to nutrition, timing is important. If an athlete waits until after training to take in nutrients, the training results are less productive.
Sleep – The single most significant factor in optimal athletic performance is central nervous system readiness. Sleep plays a critical role in optimal performance of the central nervous system. There is a dramatic increase in blood flow to the brain after eight hours of sleep. Without at least eight hours sleep, athletic performance suffers.
Code of Conduct – The Code establishes a comprehensive structure for running a program of excellence. It establishes a clear, consistent set of boundaries and educates student athletes on how to perform at the highest levels. When it comes to alcohol and illegal drugs, the Code sets clear guidelines, restrictions and consequences for breaking the rules.
Parent/Athlete Meetings – This is a three-part meeting where the parents, athletes and LoA coordinators review the code of conduct and team policies and guidelines. Clear expectations are established in the areas of player character, team dynamics, and chemical health. Guidance is provided on how coaches can best communicate LoA messages.
Team Culture – LoA is a comprehensive approach that creates a successful team culture. It includes a team meeting that discusses lifestyle issues and team goals. The heart of the approach is the creation of a winning attitude that encourages post game events, study groups to uphold good academic standing, “out of season” workouts, post workout nutrition, and promotion of optimum sleep requirements.
The T.E.A.M Approach
Life of an Athlete promotes the T. E. A. M. approach to successful team culture.
Teach not only the fundamentals, but good character and the importance to a positive lifestyle on and off the field. This includes good nutrition, proper sleep and staying alcohol and drug free.
Enforce good behaviors. If you hear of a potential party with alcohol and drugs, call a team meeting and remind your players of the Code of Conduct that they signed. If someone violates the Code, you must enforce the consequences. This sets the standard for enforcement and helps the athlete become a better athlete, student, and citizen.
It’s important to advocate for proper training, nutrition, sleep and a chemical-free lifestyle.
Just as we want to remind students that others are watching, coaches need to understand this as well. Students are watching your behavior, how you treat the team, other coaches and the referees. Model what you expect from your athletes.
Opportunity for a Meaningful Experience
Athletics is not simply an activity, but an opportunity to provide a special experience that leads to significantly improved outlook and positive perspective. The coach’s role is impactful to student athletes. Set standards that are never compromised. Remember, first and foremost your job is to teach young people how to prepare for life. It’s up to you to make a positive difference in the life of every member of your team!
Download the Coaches’ Playbook (5.1 mb)
John Underwood/Life of an Athlete Website
Official website of Life of an Athlete Human Performance Project
Chippewa Valley Coalition for Youth and Families
Provides information about the dangers of teen use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs and highlights of Coalition activities
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Provides research and science on drug abuse and addiction, resources for parents and links to other websites