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Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine Illinois high school coaches’ knowledge of hydration and fluid replacement strategies. We also sought to identify their primary sources of fluid replacement information. Design: Descriptive Survey. Participants: 22 Coaches who were members of the Illinois High School Association were the survey respondents in this study. The mean age (±SD) of subjects was 37.4(±11.5) years with an average coaching experience of 11.4(±8.96) years. Intervention: A questionnaire was developed based upon the National Athletic Training Association’s Position Stand and the American College of Sports Medicine’s roundtable discussion of fluid replacement and hydration. The instrument contained three sections: 1) demographic information, 2) sources of hydration information, and 3) knowledge assessment of fluid replacement guidelines. The instrument was examined for face and content validity by three exercise physiology experts, one of whom had substantial expertise in sport nutrition. Main Outcomes Measures: Descriptive statistics were used to identify the sources of information and scores on the knowledge assessment. Consistent with similar studies, a score of 80% was used for the passing rate for the knowledge assessment. A chi square test with a significance set a priori at p <.05 was used to determine whether a difference existed between those with formal fluid replacement and exercise physiology training and those without in regards to passing the knowledge assessment. Results: 22 surveys were returned from 500 coaches that were randomly selected for mailing, resulting in a response rate of 4.4%. The mean assessment score was 12.7 (± 1.77) correct responses out of a possible 17. Only 12 participants (54.5%) obtained a passing score on the questionnaire, indicating nearly half of the spending coaches had an unacceptable level of hydration/fluid replacement knowledge. The chi square test revealed no significant difference in passing rates between those coaches with fluid replacement training (p= .394) or formal exercise physiology background (p= .088). The primary sources of information for the majority (>50%) of coaches was from magazines, conferences, and medical staff. Conclusions: The results from the hydration and fluid replacement questionnaire indicate that a large percentage of Illinois high school coaches do not posses adequate knowledge related to fluid replacement for their athletes. The nature of the survey may have contributed to the response rate. The low response rate for this survey should be taken into consideration and, thus, the results interpreted with caution. Practical Applications: Professional associations should consider targeting coaching magazines and conferences to share critical information related to fluid replacement. Coaches must also take responsibility and keep abreast of the latest information related to the safety of their athletes.

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