A LOT OF TEENAGERS DRINK TO FIT IN
Teenagers are often curious about all the things you haven’t tried. Plus you want to have fun and to fit in. So if your teammates have a beer in the sauna, you might worry that you’ll be seen as boring if you don’t join in. For many teenagers, it’s that beer that is their first contact with alcohol. But alcohol and sports don’t belong together, not for adults nor for children. Talk to your teenager and help them come up with reasons that make it easier for them to say “no”. If the team or club has a permissive attitude towards alcohol, it’s a good idea for you, as a parent, to raise the subject with the leaders or with the parents of the other teenagers on the team.
The first time I got drunk was at a training camp in Germany.
Ella, aged 15, Gothenburg
ALCOHOL HAS MANY NEGATIVE EFFECTS
The vast majority of young people know that alcohol affects the body, but far fewer of them are aware of the effects of alcohol on sporting performances. Drinking substantially harms your performance – not just when you’re drunk, but the next day too. Alcohol also affects the coordination that is so important in team sports, and prevents your body from building muscle and from recovering as it should. Playing less well because you’re hung over can be seen as a massive let down by your teammates.
IT’S EASIER TO SAY “NO” AS A TEAM
Sports can act as a protection factor by offering young people a meaningful and fun leisure activity. Taking an active stance concerning alcohol can make a big difference and is actually something young people want. Two thirds of young people agree that teams and sports clubs should talk more about the risks associated with drinking alcohol in conjunction with sport. As a parent, you have an important part to play, too. If there is a permissive alcohol culture in the team, training group or sports association – raise the issue with the team leaders and other parents. Ideally, the club should have a unified stance on what is and isn’t allowed and should state these rules in the form of a policy. Over half of all young people say that it would be considerably easier to say “no” to alcohol if there was a shared agreement not to drink.
You're not allowed to smoke or drink at my sports club. . If you do, they contact your parents and you might get kicked off the team.
Nimo, aged 16, Gothenburg
TALK AND DISCUSS
Formulating a policy on paper is one thing, but theory needs to be put into practice. Keep the conversation between the team leaders and teenagers alive: what do you do if you see a teammate drinking and how might the group suffer as a result of drinking? Some team leaders find it easy to talk about this sort of thing with young people, but some have no idea how to approach the subject. Furthermore, many team leaders are young people themselves, and lack the experience that you have as an adult. Which is why it’s good if you, as a parent, can help out.