The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) is a recognized leader in helping student-athletes maximize their performance through the use of proven weight management/sport nutrition practices. In fact, over 240,000 middle school, high school, and college student-wrestlers use the Optimal Performance Calculator (OPC) annually to establish an ideal competition weight. In addition, over 7000 coaches and 8000 athletic trainers participate in the program each year.
At the request of the sport science community, the NWCA has developed a modified “all sport” version of the OPC to help athletes (in sports other than wrestling) to establish an ideal competition weight. Essentially, the OPC evaluates an athlete's initial body fat, body weight, and “desired body fat” to calculate a “goal competition weight” and a safe weight loss/gain plan.
Resources Needed to use the OPC
- A certified athletic trainer or healthcare professional (nurse, physician, etc) to perform assessment
- Height chart, measuring tape, etc. to measure height
- Access to skin calipers, bioelectrical impedance scale, BodPod, BodyMetrix (ultrasound), or hydrostatic tank to calculate body fat.
- Secure OPC access codes from the NWCA so assessment data can be entered by healthcare professional and integrated nutrition program can be accessed by the athlete.
Athletic Trainer/Health Care Professional Roles:
Roles of the coach:
- Prior to the first practice, it is recommended that a health care professional (i.e. certified athletic trainer, physician, etc) performs a body fat, and weight assessment on each athlete. In addition, the health care professional should collaborate with the athlete, coach, and parents to determine the desire body fat to be reached.
- The raw assessment data (and desired body fat to be reached) is entered into the OPC so an ideal competition weight can be established along with a prescribed weight loss/gain plan.
When determining a desired body fat, the following should be adhered to:
- Middle School/high school male athletes should be at or above 7% body fat and high school female athletes should be at or above 12% body fat unless approved by a physician.
- College male athletes should be at or above 5% body fat and college female athletes should be at or above 12% unless approved by a physician
* it should be noted that there is no evidence that the “minimum allowable body fat” outlined above is ideal for maximizing performance. Depending on the sport and physical build of an athlete, the ideal body fat for each athlete will vary widely.
- Familiarize yourself with the assessment data, goal weights, and weight loss plans of each athlete on your team.
- Conduct an Optimal Performance Calculator orientation for all athletes and parents in the preseason. This orientation should have a dietician present to educate athletes and parents on issues such as eating disorders and obesity risks in some sports. Further, educations should be provided on the science behind good weight management and nutrition.
- Collaborate with the athletic trainer to conduct follow up assessments every 4-8 weeks.
- Provide each athlete with their confidential OPC access codes so they can access their personal assessment data, weight loss/gain plans, and integrated diet component.
Roles of the Athlete:
- Obtain your personal OPC access codes from your coach (these codes reside in the restricted “coaches” section of the OPC).
- Familiarize yourself with your personal body composition assessment data and prescribed weight loss plan.
- Use the integrated OPC diet program to build a customized diet that honors your weight loss plan, weight maintenence or weight gain plan.
- Utilize the activity tracker to ensure client is exercising for a minimum of 60 minutes each day.