EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Research article
Volume 4, No. 2, 2012, 7-14
UDC 796.325-055.25:572.5
SOMATOTYPE OF YOUNG FEMALE VOLLEYBALL
PLAYERS
Mirjana Mili„, Zoran Grgantov and Ratko Kati„
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, Croatia
Abstract
The aim of this study was to compare the somatotype of youth Croatian female volleyball
players (mean age 14.05 years) in terms of playing performance. All players evaluated were
classified into a less successful group (N=53) and a group of more successful players (N=61).
The somatotype means of the whole sample were 4.41 ñ 2.79 ñ 3.68±1.02 ñ 1.04 ñ 1.29, of less
successful players 4.69 ñ 2.94 ñ 3.40 ± 0.95 ñ 0.96 ñ 1.21, and of more successful players 4.17 ñ
2.69 ñ 3.87 ± 1.03 ñ 1.07 ñ 1.30. Based on a Category Chart, 7 somatotype categories were
obtained. A significantly higher proportion of balanced ectomorph somatotype category was
established in more successful players, and a significantly higher proportion of ectomorphic-
endomorph somatotype category was found in less successful players.
Keywords: anthropometric characteristics, Heat-Carter, playing performance, volleyball
Introduction
Analysis of the body build structure, shape and composition of athletes in different sports
and their relation to sport success has been an area of great scientific interest for a long time. The
height of the net separating the opponent teams, small dimensions of the court, great ball speed
and specific game techniques characterize volleyball as a sports game. These specificities also
condition the specificities in body build which are necessary for successful performance of
different movement structures in competitions (sprinting, direction of movement changes, jumps,
landingsÖ). Somatotyping is one of the most frequently used techniques for analyzing the body
build. Because of its uniqueness, somatotyping has been used to study many aspects of exercise,
sports sciences and human biology, which may be important in identifying talented young
athletes for particular sports (Carter, Ackland, Kerr, & Stapff, 2005).
In volleyball, somatotyping has been used for comparing senior female volleyball players
to female athletes in other sports (Bayios, Bergeles, Apostolidis, Noutsos, & Koskolou,. 2006),
but also for analyzing the differences between female senior volleyball players regarding player
positions and/or competitive successfulness
(Gualdi-Russo, & Zaccagni 2001, Esper 2004,
Malousaris, Bergeles, Barzouka, Bayios, Nassis, & Koskolou 2008, Carvajal, Betancourt, LeÛn,
Deturnel, MartÌnez, EchevarrÌa, Castillo, & Serviat 2012).
Corresponding author. Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, Teslina
6,
21000 Split, Croatia, e-mail:
mirjanam@kifst.hr
M. Mili„, Z. Grgantov and R. Kati
A great number of somatotype research studies have also been conducted on samples of
young female volleyball players from different countries (Riegerova, & Ryöavy, 2001, Duncan,
Woodfield, & Al-Nakeeb 2006, Soares, & De Paula 2006, Dostalov·, Riegerov·, & P¯idalov·
2007, De Hoyo, Corrales, & Paez 2008, B.G. Cabral, S.A. Cabral, Batista, Fernandes Filho, &
Knackfuss 2008, Ayan, Bektas, & Ali Emre 2012). Differences between young volleyball
players regarding player positions were analyzed in some of these studies, but the authors were
not able to find a single research in which differences in somatotype had been analyzed in
relation to player quality of young female volleyball players. Moreover, most of these studies
were conducted on relatively small subject samples.
Considering the abovementioned shortcomings of previous research conducted on a
sample of young female volleyball players, the main goal of this research is to analyze the
differences in frequency of each somatotype category between less successful and more
successful female volleyball players using a larger subject sample.
Method
Somatotype data were collected on 114 young female volleyball players, members of 6
clubs from the Dalmatia region, of average chronological age of 14.06±0.96, average height of
170.22±7.06 cm and body mass of
58.35±8.35 kg. With the purpose of calculating the
somatotype (by Heat-Carter method), 10 anthropometric measures were measured: height and
mass; triceps, subscapular, supraspinale and calf skinfolds; flexed arm and calf girth; humerus
and femur breadth (Carter, & Heath, 1990).
Player quality on a five-point Likert represents a criterion variable. A grade of 1-5 was
assigned to each player regarding 2 criteria (Table1):
1. Team ranking in the competition: All teams participated in the Croatian regional
championship and, based on their ranking in the championship, they were classified
into 3 categories (1th-4th place; 5th-8th place; 9th-12th place)
2. Player quality within the team (assessed by the coaches). Each coach divided the
players of her/his team into 3 groups (the most successful ñ the most efficient players,
average ñ other members of the starting line-up and reserves who contribute to game
quality; the least successful ñ players who very rarely or never enter the game)
All players who were assigned grades of 1-3 were categorized into the less successful
group, and all players who were assigned grades 4 and 5 were categorized into the group of more
successful.
Table 1
Categorization of individual player performance level
Individual performance level
Competition
The most
Average
The least
ranking
Members of the
successful players
players in the
successful players
national team
in the team
team
in the team
1-4
5
5
4
3
5-8
5
4
3
2
9-12
5
3
2
1
8
Somatotype of young female volleyball players
The data was analyzed by first calculating the basic descriptive indicators of the 10
morphological measures, as well as 3 somatotype components (arithmetic mean and standard
deviation), separately for the whole sample and for more successful and less successful players.
Then, each volleyball player was classified into one of the 13 possible somatotype categories. In
such a way, 7 somatotype categories were obtained. Frequency and percentage of each category
were calculated within the whole sample, as well as in the subsamples of less successful and
more successful players. Analysis of differences in proportions was used to establish whether
there were significant differences in frequency of each somatotype category between the less
successful and more successful players. In order to emphasize the differences of somatotype
between player positions, along with the profile of the whole sample and of the subsamples, 2
player profiles were singled-out of players who are members of the youth Croatian national team
(one playing the middle hitter position, and the other playing libero).
By using the Somatotype software, subjects were classified according to somatotype
categories, while statistical data analysis was conducted by using the Statistica Ver 10.00 software.
Results
Descriptive statistics results of morphological variables of 114 young female volleyball
players are presented in Table 2. The analysis of distribution parameters shows that all variables
are normally distributed and that there are no deviations from normal distribution. Normality of
distribution was tested by using a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test with a critical value of 0.13.
Young female volleyball players tested in this research were on average 5 cm taller and 3
kg heavier than 152 female students of primary school Bija„i from Kaötela and 25 Croatian
female karateka of approximately the same age tested in the research conducted by Kati„, Juki„,
& Mili„ (2012). In comparison to female handball players of the same age (Zapartidis, Vareltzis,
Gouvali, & Kororos, 2009), female volleyball players tested here are averagely 6 cm taller, but
with the same body mass. This points to the importance of body height for success in volleyball,
and of muscle mass for success in handball. Such results are to be expected because the net
separating the opponent teams in volleyball prevents contact between the players. Therefore,
prominent muscle mass is not necessary, and due to the height of the net, taller players have an
advantage during blocking and spiking.
Table 2
Descriptive statistics of variables of morphological characteristics in young female volleyball players
(N=114)
Variables
Median
Mean
SD
Range
KS
Height
170.35
170.22
7.06
154.2-193.1
0.05
Mass
57.10
58.35
8.35
37.4- 80.6
0.05
Triceps SF
17.27
17.27
4.79
9-30.27
0.07
Subscapular SF
10.07
10.53
3.02
5.47-20.13
0.10
Supraspinale SF
15.62
16.26
5.10
6.07-35.73
0.07
Calf SF
14.50
15.19
4.52
6.73-27.4
0.07
Arm
26.00
25.96
2.41
16.26-31.4
0.06
Calf Girth
34.45
34.24
2.53
27.7-41
0.06
Humerus B
6.10
6.13
0.31
5.4-7.3
0.09
Femur B
9.20
9.21
0.40
8.4-10.4
0.06
Test= 0.13
LEGEND: Median ñ central value, Mean ñ mean, SD ñ standard deviation, Range ñ the lowest and the highest value, KS - Kolmogorov-
Smirnov test
9
M. Mili„, Z. Grgantov and R. Kati
As it can be seen in Table 3, all somatotype components are averagely expressed (within
the range of 2.5 to 5) in the whole sample as well as in the subsamples of less successful and
more successful volleyball players. The endomorph somatotype component is dominant in all
samples, while the mesomorph component is the least expressed one. Given the values of each
somatotype component, young female volleyball players averagely fit the ecomorphic-
endomorph category, the subsample of more successful players averagely fits the ectomorph-
endomorph category, and less successful players fit the balanced endomorph category.
The abovementioned categories were obtained based on mean values of the larger
number of players in each somatotype component. The main problem is that such an approach
does not allow insight into the somatotype specificities of individual players, i.e. it does not
provide information about individual classification of players into somatotype categories.
Table 3
Descriptive indicators of somatotype components of the whole sample, less successful and more
successful female volleyball players
Total sample (N=114)
Less successful (N=53)
More successful (N=61)
Somatotype
components
M
SD
M
SD
M
SD
Endomorphy
4.42
1.02
4.69
0.95
4.17
1.03
Mesomorphy
2.81
1.03
2.94
0.96
2.69
1.07
Ectomorphy
3.66
1.28
3.40
1.21
3.87
1.30
LEGEND: M ñ mean, SD ñ standard deviation
Therefore, classification of players into somatotype categories was calculated separately
for each player, as can be seen in Table 4. Frequency (N) and percentage (%) of each somatotype
category was calculated for the whole sample, as well as for the subsamples of more successful
and less successful players, along with the significance of differences in proportions of each
category in the subsamples of less successful and more successful female volleyball players (p).
Table 4
Frequency and percentage of each somatotype category and significance of differences in
proportions between less successful and more successful female volleyball players
Total sample
Less successful
More successful
(N=114)
(N=53)
(N=61)
Somatotype category
p
N
%
N
%
N
%
Endomorph-ectomorph
19
16.67
10
18.87
9
14.75
0.278
Ectomorphic endomorph
15
13.16
12
22.64
3
4.92
0.003
Balanced endomorph
7
6.14
5
9.43
2
3.28
0.086
Mesomorphic endomorph
28
24.56
14
26.42
14
22.95
0.334
Mesomorph-endomorph
5
4.39
2
3.77
3
4.92
0.383
Balanced ectomorph
33
28.95
5
9.43
28
45.9
0.000
Central
7
6.14
5
9.43
2
3.28
0.086
LEGEND: Nñsubject frequency, %ñ relative values, p-significance of differences in proportions between less successful and more successful
female volleyball players
10
Somatotype of young female volleyball players
Based on a Category Chart, 7 somatotype categories were obtained (table 3). Most of the
young female volleyball players fit the categories of balanced ectomorph
(29%) and
mesomorphic endomorph (25%).
The highest percentage of more successful volleyball players (46%) fits the balanced
ectomorph category, followed by the mesomorphic endomorph category (23%). Less successful
players, in the highest percentage, fit the somatotype categories of mesomorphic endomorph
(26%), ectomorphic endomorph (23%) and endomorph ectomorph (19%). By analysis of
differences in proportions between less successful and more successful young female volleyball
players, a significantly higher proportion of the balanced ectomorph somatotype category was
established in more successful players, and a significantly higher proportion of the ectomorphic-
endomorph somatotype category was found in less successful players.
The somatoplot (Figure 1) shows mean values of somatotype for the whole sample,
subsamples of more successful and less successful players, as well as individual somatoplots of
young female volleyball players. Also, 2 somatoplots of the most successful players (Croatian
national team members) who play the positions of libero and middle hitter were singled-out from
individual somatoplots.
Figure 1 Somatoplot of young female volleyball players
11
M. Mili„, Z. Grgantov and R. Kati
Discussion
After examining the mean somatotypes of the subsamples of young female volleyball
players with different performance levels (Table 3), it can be noticed that there is a trend of a
decreased endomorph component and an increased ectomorph somatotype component among
more successful players. This indirectly indicates that a relatively small body mass in relation to
body height is required in volleyball. The dominance of the endomorph component can even in
more successful players be partly explained by characteristics of the sample which was
composed of female volleyball players at the lower (club) performance level. Namely, in most
somatotype studies conducted among young female volleyball players with the national team
quality level, the dominance of the ectomorph somatotype component has been established. For
example, Cabral et al. (2008) obtained mean somatotype values of 3.1 ñ 2.2 ñ 3.9 on a sample of
14 young female Brazil national team members of average age of 15.9, and Ayan et al. (2012),
using a sample of 58 young female Turkish volleyball players who received invitations to the
representative camp, established mean somatotype values of 3.4 ñ 2.1 ñ 4.5. On the other hand,
the dominance of the endomorph somatotype component in the whole sample indirectly indicates
the problem of excessive subcutaneous fat tissue in some volleyball players, which has also been
noticed in some previous studies involving the sample of young female Croatian volleyball
players (Grgantov, Kati„, & Jankovi„, 2006).
Analysis of the somatotype categories (Table 4) enables a more precise insight into the
differences in body build between more successful and less successful female volleyball players.
A significantly higher frequency of somatotype predominated by the ectomorph component, with
balanced development of the endomorph and mesomorph somatotype component (balanced
ectomorph category) in successful volleyball players, is in accordance with the aforementioned
research conducted on samples of young female national level volleyball players. Such body
build is especially suitable for those volleyball elements which are performed above the net
(spiking and blocking). These elements are characteristic for all player positions in volleyball,
except for libero and, to some extent, for setter, and through their successful performance, a team
can win most points in a competition.
On the other hand, the dominance of the endomorph somatotype component, with a less
expressed mesomorph component (ectomorphic-endomorph category) is significantly more
frequent in less successful volleyball players. It is evident that excessive subcutaneous fat tissue,
along with the lack of body mass, has a negative impact on agility and explosiveness in young
female volleyball players. Low level of these motor abilities hinders successful performance of
most movement structures in volleyball (sprinting, direction of movement changes, jumping,
hitting, landingsÖ), and therefore successful performance of all technical-tactical elements.
The mesomorphic-endomorph somatotype category is characteristic for over 20% of
players in both subsamples. It can be assumed that players in the more successful subsample are
mostly libero players who compensate their somewhat more expressed endomorph somatotype
component with, for example, well developed motor abilities, technical-tactical skills or
intellectual abilities and personality traits. The fact that relatively short, but strong players, who
are also efficient in a setter position or even an outside hitter position, can be seen in the younger
age groups in competitions must not be disregarded.
The abovementioned, and particularly the presented differences in the mean somatotype
between the two young Croatian national team members who play the libero and middle hitter
positions (Figure 1), indicate the necessity for further analysis of somatotype of young female
volleyball players in different player positions.
12
Somatotype of young female volleyball players
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