The objectives of this study were to evaluate high school coaches’ knowledge in sports nutrition and the nutritional practices they recommend to their athletes. Forty-seven high school coaches in “leanness” and “non-leanness” sports from the greater region of Quebec (women = 44.7%) completed a questionnaire on nutritional knowledge and practices. “Leanness sports” were defined as sports where leanness or/and low bodyweight were considered important (e.g., cheerleading, swimming and gymnastics), and “non-leanness sports” were defined as sports where these factors are less important (e.g., football). Participants obtained a total mean score of 68.4% for the nutrition knowledge part of the questionnaire. More specifically, less than 30% of the coaches could answer correctly some general nutrition questions regarding carbohydrates and lipids. No significant difference in nutrition knowledge was observed between coaches from “leanness” and “non-leanness” sports or between men and women. Respondents with a university education scored higher than the others (73.3% vs. 63.3%, p < .05). Coaches who participated in coaching certification also obtained better results than those without a coaching certification. The most popular source of information about nutrition used by coaches was the Internet at 55%. The two most popular nutrition practices that coaches recommended to improve athlete performance were hydration and consumption of protein-rich foods. Recommendation for nutritional supplements use was extremely rare and was suggested only by football coaches, a nonleanness sport. Findings from this study indicate that coaches need sports nutrition education and specific training.
Couture, Lamarche, Morissette, and Provencher are with the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods, Laval University, Québec, Canada. Valois is with the Dept. of Educational Fundamentals and Practices, Faculty of Education, Laval University, Québec, Canada. Goulet and Drapeau are with the Dept. of Physical Education, Faculty of Education, Laval University, Québec, Canada.