Collegiate athletes' body composition by sport and position

Emily Travis, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study assessed the body composition of an urban Division I university’s athletes by gender, sport, position, and year of training. Retrospective data was used including 342 athletes from various sports such as: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Sixty percent of the athletes were women (n=206) and 40.0 % were men (n=132). Fat free mass (FFM) was hypothesized to increase with years of collegiate training. The secondary aim was to compare percent body fat (%BF) of these athletes to similar studies and textbook standards. All athletes were uninjured, actively participating, and between the ages of 18-24 years old. Body composition of each athlete was measured via BODPOD after appropriate preparation procedures and calibration took place. Data was stratified by subject identifier, gender, year of training, age, height, weight, sport, position, ethnicity, fat mass (FM), FFM, %BF, and percent fat free mass (%FFM). Statistical units used to determine outcomes were means, standard deviations, and ranges. Most positions were unable to be stratified into 4 individual years of training, but instead were evaluated using year 1 and the 4-year average. Only six positions were stratified by gender, sport, position, and each individual year of training. No longitudinal data occurred in this study. When comparing the results of this study to similar studies found in literature or sports nutrition textbooks, the results were similar across gender, sport, and position. This cross-sectional descriptive study showed a positive association between FFM among women basketball guards, women soccer defenders, women track and field sprinters/middle distance/ hurdlers, and women volleyball outside/right side hitters with year of training. This study produced %BF values similar to those found in the literature and textbooks. Conclusions on the remaining women’s sports, positions, and men’s athletics were not possible due to small samples. Division I college athletes’ body composition did vary by gender, sport, and position due to different positional functions. Future studies with large samples of athletes tracked prospectively are needed to better describe body composition by position and years of training, and to assess body composition change longitudinally.^

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Recommended Citation

Travis, Emily, "Collegiate athletes' body composition by sport and position" (2016). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10183290.