Somatotype and body composition of volleyball players and untrained female students – reference group for comparison in sport

Anna Pastuszak 1 , Krzysztof Buśko 2 ,  and Ewa Kalka 3
  • 1 Department of Biomechanics, Institute of Sport – National Research Institute, Warsaw, Poland
  • 2 Department of Biomedical Basis of Physical Culture, Kazimierz Wielki University, Bydgoszcz, Poland
  • 3 Institute of Mother and Child, Warsaw, Poland


There is substantial evidence that somatotype and success in sport and physical performance are positively related. Existing somatotype data on athletes are useful as guidelines for sport selection and choice of training appropriate to the enhancement of desired somatotype characteristics. Updated somatotype data from non-athlete reference groups complement comparative analysis applied in assessing the effects of the training process and selection. The aim of this study was to determine the somatotype of untrained girls studying at Warsaw University of Technology in 2011, in order to create a current reference group for comparison, and to investigate the difference in body build of female volleyball players compared with the non-athlete group. Twelve Second Division female volleyball players (age 21.6±1.5 years, body height 177.3±6.2 cm, body mass 71.0±6.5 kg, training experience 8.4±3.4 years) and 150 female untrained students of the University of Technology in Warsaw (age 20.0±6.4 years, body height 166.5±6.4 cm, body mass 59.7±8.4 kg) participated in a study carried out in 2011. Somatotype was determined using the Heath-Carter method. The volleyball players were a little older and were significantly taller and heavier than female students (p<0.05). Significant differences between the groups were found in breadth of the elbow, breadth of the wrist, biacromial diameter, arm circumference and crus circumference (p<0.05). The mean somatotype of the volleyball players was 4.5-3.4-2.8. (4.5±1.0-3.4±1.2-2.8±1.3), whilst that of the untrained students was 5.1-3.6-2.8. (5.1±1.4-3.6±1.1-2.8±1.3); the groups did not differ significantly in somatotype. The groups were significantly different in body composition (F [kg] and LBM [kg]), as estimated by BIA and anthropometric methods (p<0.05). No differences were observed between the groups in the skinfolds. Morphological characteristics of the female volleyball players depended on the competition level and performance. Somatic features of the bodies of the volleyball players were dominated by the height of the body and the associated magnitude of the constituent characteristics.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Buśko K., Lipińska M. 2012. Comparative analysis of the anthropometric method and bioelectrical impedance analysis on changes in body composition of female volleyball players during the 2010/2011 season. Human Movement 13(2):127-31.

  • Carter JEL 2002. Part 1: The Heath-Carter Anthropometric Somatotype-Instruction Manual. Available at:

  • Carter JEL, Heath HB.1990. Somatotyping development and application. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Cohen, Jacob. 2013. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. London: Academic Press.

  • Gualdi-Russo E, Zaccagni L. 2001. Somatotype, role and performance in elite volleyball players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 41(2):256-62.

  • Jagiello M, Jagiello W. 2009. Internal proportions of the body composition in members of the female national tennis team of Poland. Education. Physical Training. Sport 73(2):28-34.

  • Jagiello W, Kalina RM, Korobielnikow G. 2007. Morphological diversification of female judo athletes. Arch Budo 3(1):27-34.

  • Jagiełło W, Kruszewski A. 2009. Morphological diversification of competitors training Greco-Roman style of wrestling. Arch Budo 5(1):147-53.

  • Jagiełło W, Kalina R, Jagiełło M. 2011. Differentiation of the body composition in the Polish national team pentathletes. Balt J Health Phys Act 3(2):105-11.

  • Krawczyk B, Skład M, Majle B. 1995. Body components of male and female athletes representing various sports. Biol Sport 12 (4):243-50.

  • Nikolaidis P. T, Afonso J, Busko K. 2015. Differences in anthropometry, somatotype, body composition and physiological characteristics of female volleyball players by competition level. Sport Sci Health 11(1):29-35.

  • Malousaris GG, Bergeles NK, Barzouka KG, Bayios IA, Nassis GP, Koskolou MD. 2008. Somatotype, size and body composition of competitive female volleyball players. J Sci Med Sport 11:337-44.

  • Marchocka M, Smuk E. 1984. Analysis of body build of senior weightlifters with particular regard for proportions. Biol Sport 1(1):57-71.

  • Martín-Matillas M, Valadés D, Hernández- Hernández E, Olea-Serrano F, Sjöström M, Delgado-Fernandez M, Ortega F. B. 2014. Anthropometric, body composition and somatotype characteristics of elite female volleyball players from the highest Spanish league. J Sports Sci 32(2):137-48.

  • Milicer H, Skibińska A, Skład M. 1976. The secular trend in size and proportions of the body in higher school students. Physical Education and Sport 20 (2):3-10.

  • Piechaczek H.1976. Estimation of total body fat by densitometric and anthropometric methods. Studies in Physical Anthropology 2:33-45.

  • Piechaczek H. 1990. Body structure of male and female basketball players. Biol Sport 7(4): 273-84.

  • Piechaczek H, Lewandowska J, Orlicz B. 1996. Zmiany w budowie ciała młodzieży akademickiej Politechniki Warszawskiej w okresie 35 lat. Physical Education and Sport 40(3):3-14.

  • Pietraszewska J, Burdukiewicz A, Stachoń A, Andrzejewska J, Pietraszewski B. 2015. Anthropometric characteristics and lower limb power of professional female volleyball players. S Afr J Res Sport Ph 37(1):99-112.

  • Pilicz S. 1963. Rozwój sprawności fizycznej studentów Politechniki Warszawskie. Physical Education and Sport 7 (1):107-22.

  • Pilewska W, Pilewski R, Zukow W. 2013. Characteristics of body composition highly qualified dancers and dancers Latin American style of dance sports in light of Perkal method. Journal of Health Sciences 3(8):193-218.

  • Siri WE. 1956, The gross composition of the body. In: J Lawrence and C Tobias, editors.

  • Advanced in biological and medical physics. London: Academic Press. 239-80.

  • Weiner JS, Lourie JA. 1969. Human Biology, a Gide to Field Methods. International Biological Programme. Oxford and Edinburgh: Blackwell Scientific Publications.

  • Wit B., Piechaczek H., Błachnio D., Buśko K., 1998. Comparative assessment of selected body components from bioelectrical impedance or skinfold measurements.

  • Biol Sport 15(4):205-10.

  • Viviani F, Baldin F. 1993. The somatotype of “amateur” Italian female volleyball players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 33(4):400-4.


Journal + Issues