We recently published a paper in the International Journal of Sports Medicine (Raymond-Pope et al., 2020) on body composition measures in over 200 NCAA Division I collegiate male and female basketball players. There is a wealth of data in the article and I encourage you to read it if you want more detailed information than is contained here. In this blog post, I am going to focus on the male basketball players’ data. In a companion blog post, I will focus on the female basketball players’ data.
Typically, basketball players are placed into one of five major positions: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. Each position requires a specific skill set and typically requires a certain body dimension. In this blog post we will examine the data for 88 NCAA Division I male basketball players classified as point guards (n=27), shooting guards (n=18), small forwards (n=13), power forwards (n=21), and centers (n=9). These basketball players had their body composition determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which is considered the “gold standard” for measuring body composition due to its accuracy as well as its ability to measure regional as well as total body composition.
Total body composition measures of male collegiate basketball players (Table 1).
First, let’s look at the measures of total body composition. In the table below (Table 1) I present the total body composition characteristics for collegiate male basketball players by positions. As you can see in the table there were significant inter-positional differences observed in total lean muscle mass (LM), fat mass (FM), bone mineral density (BMD), and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) mass for these players. Male centers demonstrated greater total FM compared to point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards. Additionally, male centers and power forwards had greater total mass, total LM, and VAT mass than all other positions. No significant differences were observed in males’ BMD across position.
Regional body composition measures of male collegiate basketball players (Table 2).
As I mentioned, one of the strengths of using DXA to determine body composition is the ability to examine regional as well as total body composition. In the table below (Table 2) I am displaying the regional body composition measurements by position for our male basketball players. Centers had greater arm total mass, FM, and LM in comparison to point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards. Although no significant inter-positional differences were observed in total BMD for players, point guards had significantly lower arm BMD than centers. Centers and power forwards had greater leg FM, LM, and total mass than all other positions. No inter-positional differences were observed for leg BMD.
What does it all mean?
The main finding of this study is that there were significant total and regional body composition differences across position for male basketball players. These differences may be due to the unique demands of each position. Obviously, height plays a key role in a number of positions; however, a player’s total and regional body composition may make them more suitable to play a particular position. As more and more athletic teams start to use DXA to measure and track body composition the information presented here provides normative data from which to compare these players. Finally, the data provided here serves as a jumping-off point for understanding player and positional norms in NCAA Division I collegiate male basketball players. Future studies are needed to determine seasonal changes in body composition.
For those that want more detailed information, I refer you to the original paper (Raymond-Pope et al., 2020), which this blog post is based on. I also urge you to read the companion blog post on NCAA Division I collegiate female basketball players. If you have questions regarding this blog post or the original paper (Raymond-Pope et al., 2020), that this blog post is based on please contact the corresponding author Dr. Don Dengel (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Raymond-Pope CJ, Solfest AL, Carbuhn A, Stanforth PR, Oliver J, Bach CW, Bosch T, Dengel DR: Total and regional body composition of NCAA division I collegiate basketball athletes. International Journal of Sports Medicine 41(4):242-247, 2020.
About the Author
Donald Dengel, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and is a co-founder of Dexalytics. He serves as the Director of the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology, which provides clinical vascular, metabolic, exercise and body composition testing for researchers across the University of Minnesota.