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Supplement Use In Professional Rugby League

Woolfenden, A (2018) Supplement Use In Professional Rugby League. Masters thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of sports supplement use in elite Rugby League (RL) though identifying the prevalence of supplement use within elite RL; assessing the knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards supplements amongst elite RL players; and by examining the knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards supplements of support staff who have a direct influence on the sports nutrition practices within the elite RL. A questionnaire was distributed to identify the prevalence of supplement use and assess the knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of supplements amongst 166 elite RL players, across eight English teams competing in the European Super League (ESL). The questionnaire asked each player to report supplement use and type, the input they had, levels of knowledge and source of information, and reasons for use. Frequency analysis and comparison between frequency counts was performed using cross tabulation matrices and Chi2 analysis to identify any statistical significance. The questionnaire data revealed that 95 percent of elite RL players report the use of supplements. The main reasons for supplement use related to recovery (90%) and building muscle (86%) with the main ingredients reported as protein (100%); creatine (64%); vitamins and minerals (60%); carbohydrate (56%). Other than the players themselves, strength and conditioning coaches (85%) and dieticians or nutritionists (29%) were identified as the most influential individuals when deciding supplements practices. Many respondents (25%) reported having no input into the supplements they consumed with 92 percent acknowledged an awareness of potential risks associated with supplements. However only 56 percent of respondents were aware of the risk minimisation scheme in the UK. This was despite 97 percent of respondent reporting receiving advice relating to safe supplement use with strength and conditioning coaches (87%), dietician or nutritionist (73%) and sport scientist (39%) being identified as the main sources for such advice. Additionally, semi-structured one-to-one interviews, which were deductively developed to assess the knowledge of and attitudes towards supplements amongst player support staff, were conducted with one member of support staff from eight English teams competing in the ESL. The interviews were transcribed and a systematic, line-by-line process of coding took place to identify different themes and common trends, which later developed into general dimensions. Triangulation was also used to review the findings, provide a check on the selective perception, and illuminate any blind spots or misinterpretations during the initial analysis. The interview data highlighted the lack of qualified nutritionists within RL as only 2 respondents identified themselves as nutritionists. The additional six respondents were strength and conditioning staff. The majority of the respondents agreed that supplements do play a part in sport and identified that the benefits of supplements relate to convenience and the addition of certain dietary demands that were difficult to meet through food alone. However, the majority of participants also stresses the importance of a good diet. All respondents identified sponsorship and the related financial benefits as driving influential factors in supplement brand choice and there are similarities in the way that clubs decide and deliver supplement practices which highlight a possible dependency culture. However, it is reported that the head of strength of conditioning has the ultimate responsibility with respect to supplement use even where clubs have access to a nutritionist. Respondents also stress that there was a lack of educational resources available to both themselves and players and suggest that this could be a factor leading to the perceived lack of knowledge amongst players and support staff in RL. In conclusion, the current research reports the high prevalence of supplement use in elite RL whilst highlighting the issues concerning a potential lack of nutritional and anti-doping knowledge amongst both players and athlete support staff. These findings suggest that both players and athlete support staff would benefit from further education in relation to the safe use of supplements from an anti-doping perspective and further analysis is needed to assess the levels of dependency within elite RL.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Supplement Use; Rugby League; Supplement Use In Rugby League; Supplement Prevelance; Supplement Knowledge; Supplements; Rugby; Inadvertant Doping; Supplement Contamination
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2018 09:17
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2022 08:45
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00008410
Supervisors: Chester, N, Close, G and Littlewood, M
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8410
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