Alcohol and Athletic Performance

Athletes work hard and are determined to be the best. Consider these questions before making decisions about drinking as an athlete:

  • How important is my sport to me?
  • How important is drinking or partying to me?
  • How important is it that I perform to the best of my ability?
  • How will drinking affect my ability to perform?
  • How will my body feel if I drink? How will I feel if I don't drink?
  • Will I violate team, university or state laws and regulations if I choose to drink?
  • What can I do instead of drinking heavily?
  • How can I stay motivated to stick with my decision?

Athletic Performance and Mental Sharpness

  • Alcohol is not considered to be a performance-enhancing substance. It slows the body down and can have effects up to one day after consumption.
  • Alcohol influences balance, reaction time, fine and complex motor skills, and information processing.
  • Drinking alcohol the night before or after a game can affect your performance. Hangovers can result in symptoms of headaches, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, dehydration and body aches that can diminish athletic performance.
  • There is no benefit from alcohol use for sport performance.

Nutrition

  • Alcohol has very little nutritional value. The high calories in alcohol are not converted into energy that can be used by your muscles. Rather, the body converts the alcohol into fat.
  • Alcohol consumption prevents your body from absorbing important nutrients like thiamin, vitamin B12, folic acid and zinc. These nutrients help in the formation of new cells, boost your immune system, and aid in the metabolism of proteins and fats.
  • Beer is not an effective beverage for replacing fluid and supplying high energy.

Muscle Development and Recovery Time

  • Athletes who drink alcohol at least once per week have an elevated risk of injury as compared to athletes who do not drink.
  • Consuming alcohol regularly depresses immune functioning and slows the healing process for sports-related injuries.
  • Alcohol-related injuries in sports like cycling, boating, ice skating, snow skiing and swimming are likely related to a decrease in psychomotor functioning and impaired judgment.

Marijuana and Athletics

  • Marijuana has been scientifically proven to hinder performance in sports, impair judgment and agility, slow motor skills, and inhibit awareness.
  • There is no athletic enhancement in using marijuana.

Other Recommendations for Athletes

  • Pre-event: Avoid alcohol for 48 hours prior to the event.
  • Post-exercise: Rehydrate first and consume food before drinking to slow alcohol absorption.

Stanford University - Office of Alcohol Policy and Education