NUTRITION AND FOOTBALL
Performance nutrition is increasingly recognised as a crucial component of optimal performance and thus it has now become an established career pathway. Most clubs now have either a full-time or part-time performance nutritionist as part of their back room support staff.
The role of a performance nutritionist working within professional football is to educate players and support staff on how dietary strategies can enhance performance, recovery and health. This is typically achieved through the application of evidenced-based nutritional interventions, practically and pragmatically applied in the field. This includes undertaking regular body composition assessment to determine each player’s ideal physique characteristics, comprehensive dietary analysis to determine each players nutritional status and bespoke interventions to support a given performance, training or rehab goal and to develop a performance nutrition strategy for the club. In addition, detailed catering guides must be developed for the training ground and hotels to ensure that high quality nutrition is being provided consistently to ensure that optimum performance, health and recovery can be achieved. Furthermore, it is critically important to quality assure sports nutrition supplementation that is being provided to the players in order to reduce the risk of the inadvertent use of banned substances.
For any performance nutritionist working in professional football, the ability to forge effective working relationships with the catering staff, sports science and medicine department is a key determinant of success. This is particularly important given that the majority of performance nutritionists work as part time consultants and their time spent in and around the football club may be limited.
A qualification at degree level (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject (usually sport and exercise science or nutrition/dietetics).
A qualification at a higher degree level (MSc or equivalent) in Sport Nutrition
You should be on the Sport & Exercise Nutrition Register
A PhD (or equivalent) in sport nutrition
Extensive, demonstrable experience in the provision of nutrition support to athletes and coaches to improve performance.
This experience should include extensive work with national teams and their athletes
The FMPA highly recommends
With a mission to promote excellence in their discipline through evidence-based practice, performance nutritionists are encouraged to ascertain accreditation on the Sports & Exercise Nutritionist Register (SENR). However, modern day performance nutritionists are working more intimately with coaches and athletes in the field rather than in the consultation room. This requires a high level of soft skills that are rarely published in scientific literature and difficult to measure. The modern day performance nutritionist should be equipped with a strong set of inter-personal coaching skills to enable them to maximise their impact with coaches, support staff and athletes in any high performance environment.