21/03/2024- Coach


Following a request from the Senior Athlete Panel and subsequent consultation with experts, athletes and coaches, draft guidance on advising fencers on eating and drinking is now available for all coaches and clubs. 

This guidance is also intended to help fencers and parents understand what they can expect from BF, coaches and clubs.

Comments and feedback on the draft guidance are welcomed here.


Advising fencers on what to eat and drink:

  1. The BF (including ADP/GBR pathway) approach will be led by the principles of “Food is Fuel to Fence” and “Re-fuel, Re-hydrate, Re-habilitate” in the specific context of encouraging fencers to get enough of the right fuel at the right time to take part in specific competition and training, and support recovery.
  2. BF recognises that food plays a role outside of just fuelling athletes and plays an important role in their mental health and wellbeing. Coaches should encourage athletes to develop a healthy relationship with food, which doesn’t create rigid rules around specific foods as all foods can play a role in supporting an athletes performance and fuelling regimen.
  3. In general coaches should encourage a food first approach to fuelling. Where athletes ask for advice on supplementation, coaches will direct athletes towards the appropriate advice from U.K. Anti Doping regarding their responsibilities and the associated risks of using supplements  – including principles of strict liability, the ‘assess the need, assess the risk’ approach, and the Informed Sport accreditation programme.
  4. Fencing coaches/clubs/BF should not give out generic advice on weight gain or weight loss. Fencers’ bodies come in all shapes and sizes and there are no weight categories in fencing. Coaches should avoid making comments – positive or negative – regarding the weight/size of any fencer, whether they coach them or not. They should also avoid conversations regarding their own weight/size (either positive or negative) when amongst fencers.
  5. If a fencer asks for specific advice about weight gain or weight loss they should be signposted to the NHS guidance (https://www.nhs.uk/) and specialist dieticians (e.g. https://www.bda.uk.com/find-a-dietitian.html).
  6. Coaches should avoid giving fencers specific individual nutritional advice – BF will commission a specialist dietician to provide generic resources on the BF website around what to eat and drink pre, during and post fencing and signpost fencers to that.
  7. All fencers as part of a group at an event or training camp should expect to be reminded to eat and drink regularly. Especially during long days and hot weather. BF/Clubs can also send out generic information and advertise webinars and online education.
  8. BF/Clubs may request from fencers (or parent/guardian if U18) information around disordered eating or eating disorders.
  9. U18s – should anything be disclosed the parent/guardian should be informed and encouraged to contact their GP. BF/the Club should then await advice from parent/guardian/professionals around how best to support the fencer and inform the coaches on a need to know basis so that they avoid triggering conversations/actions. The BF/Club safeguarding officer should be informed.
  10. 18 and older – when adult fencers disclose any information around disordered eating or eating disorders, the fencer should be signposted to their GP and BF/Club should await advice from the fencer/professionals around how best to support the fencer and inform coaches on a need to know basis so they can avoid triggering conversations/actions. (although see 5.) The BF/Club safeguarding officer should also be informed.
  11. At all times coaches should be mindful of their general language and behaviour around food, as not everyone might wish to disclose that they have disordered eating or eating disorders.


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