Nutrition knowledge of New Zealand premier club rugby coaches

Zinn, Caryn
Wall, Clare
Schofield, Grant
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

In a club rugby union environment, sports nutrition information is frequently delivered to players by the central team figure, the coach. Rugby coaches in New Zealand undertake negligible formal nutrition training to become a coach, and the development of their knowledge base remains their responsibility. There is currently no literature on the nutrition knowledge level of New Zealand coaches. Internationally, literature on coaches' nutrition knowledge and dissemination of that knowledge is scarce. Research to date has used questionnaire techniques to quantify coaches' knowledge. These questionnaires have not been assessed for their psychometric properties. As such, a true measure of knowledge cannot be guaranteed from any of these contemporary studies. Therefore, the aims of this thesis were: 1) To design a nutrition knowledge questionnaire satisfying adequate statistical measures of validity and reliability; 2) To utilise the validated questionnaire to investigate the nutrition knowledge level of these coaches 3) To investigate whether or not New Zealand premier club rugby coaches provide nutrition advice to their athletes and the factors affecting this; and 4) To investigate the factors that predict coaches' knowledge.

Study 1 involved designing a questionnaire that satisfied acceptable psychometric criteria of validity (content and construct) and reliability (test-retest). It was designed by an expert panel of sports dietitians and distributed to five groups, dietitians, university business staff, and nutrition, business and fitness students, selected for their expected variation in sports nutrition knowledge. Construct validity was high as indicated by significant mean knowledge score differences between the groups (p = 0.0001). Dietitians and nutrition students achieved significantly greater mean scores than the remaining groups. The questionnaire was administered a second time to the business staff and the dietitians to assess test-retest reliability, for which two methods were used. The first method involved a Pearson's product-moment correlation, and demonstrated acceptable reliability (r = 0.74-0.93), aside from the fluid sub-category (r = 0.52). The second, and more robust, method involved a percentage calculation of questions answered in an identical manner on both test occasions. A good test-retest concordance was achieved, with 81.2% duplication of responses of all questions. The findings of this study indicated that the questionnaire was suitably valid and reliable to determine the sports nutrition knowledge of New Zealand premier club rugby coaches. In Study 2, coaches (n = 168) completed the validated questionnaire, received by Internet, linked via e-mail, or (in case of inaccessibility), standard mail. Coaches responded correctly to 55.6% of all knowledge questions. Those who provided nutrition advice to their players (83.8% of the group) obtained a significantly greater knowledge score, 56.8%, than those who did not provide advice, 48.4% (p = 0.008). The study also examined the factors determining nutrition knowledge level. Significant relationships were identified between total knowledge score of all coaches and their qualifications (p = 0.0001), their own knowledge rating (p = 0.0001), whether or not they underwent nutrition training (p = 0.002) and whether or not they provided nutrition advice (p = 0.004). It can be concluded that New Zealand premier club rugby coaches are inadequately prepared to impart nutrition advice to athletes and could benefit from further nutrition training.

Nutrition , Rugby football coaches , Exercise Science
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