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Southern Cross University

2010

An investigation on the anthropometry profile and its relationship with physical performance of elite Chinese women volleyball players

Yuyi Zhang

Southern Cross University

Publication details

Zhang, Y 2010, 'An investigation on the anthropometry profile and its relationship with physical performance of elite Chinese women volleyball players', MSc thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW. Copyright Y Zhang 2010

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An Investigation on the Anthropometry Profile and Its Relationship with Physical Performance of Elite Chinese Women Volleyball Players

Yuyi Zhang

Bachelor of Sport Science

This thesis is presented in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science

School of Health and Human Sciences

Southern Cross University

2010

0
0

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to determine the anthropometric characteristics of elite Chinese women volleyball players, identify the differences in the anthropometric profile and physical performance between the players at different volleyball positions, and examine the correlations between the anthropometric profile and the physical performance of the players. Thirty-one anthropometric indices and four physical performance (medicine ball throwing, running vertical jump, T shuttle run agility test and timed 20 sit ups) were measured for 100 volleyball players recruited from the top eight teams of 2007-2008 national championship. The average age of the players was 22.3±3.6 (SD) years and the average training age was 9.7±4.0 years. For the elite Chinese women volleyball players, the average values of stature, body mass, sitting height, standing reach height, and BMI were respectively 183.6±5.8 cm, 70.5±7.6 kg, 95.7±3.5 cm, 236.7±7.8 cm, and 20.9±2.0. The overall anthropometric characteristics of these volleyball players can be described as high stature; relatively longer forearm, palm, calf and Achilles’ tendon lengths but a shorter sitting height; wider femur, biiliocristal and biacromial breadths; larger difference between relaxed and tensed arm girth, smaller wrist and ankle girths, smaller ankle girth / Achilles’ tendon length index; and smaller skinfolds. The results also revealed that most of the anthropometric variables were poorly correlated with the selected physical performance measurements, except that the biepicondylar femur breadth, calf girth and calf length indices were significantly correlated with the running jump height. There were significant differences among the anthropometric profiles of the players at different volleyball positions, especially in the indices of body mass, stature, standing reach height, radiale-stylion length, acromiale-dactylion length, midstylion-dactylion length, iliospinale height, tibiale-laterale height length, biacromial breadth, biiliocristal breadth, transverse chest breadth and gluteal girth (all P<0.001). However, the physical performance of the players at different positions showed no significant between-position difference except the running jump height. The average somatoype values of elite Chinese women volleyball players were “3.7-2.9-4.0”, belonging to

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endomorph-ectomorph. Their somatoypes were found mainly in four of the 13 categories, with 29% in endomorphic ectomorph, 14% in balanced ectomorph, 11% in balanced endomorph and 9% in ectomorph-endomorph. The somatotype of the spikers and liberos was of the central type, that of the second spikers and second setters was endomorphic ectomorph, and that of the setters was endomorph-ectomorph. Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that the following anthropometric indices be considered in recruitment for women volleyball players: body mass, stature, sitting height, biacromial breadth, subscapular skinfold, ankle girth, forearm girth and Achilles’ tendon length.

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Acknowledgements

I owe tremendous debt of gratitude to many people who have greatly contributed to or

have helped with the development of this thesis in their special ways during the years that it has been in preparation.

My deepest gratitude goes first and foremost to Professor Zhou Shi, my supervisor, for his sense of responsibility, enlightening guidance, and incredible patience during the whole course of my writing. He has walked me through all the stages in the writing of this thesis. Without his consistent and illuminating instruction, this thesis could never have reached its present form. Moreover, his profound knowledge, rigorous scholarship and good character will be a lifetime model for me.

Second, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Associate Professor Zhang Qin, my co-supervisor, who gave me timely instruction and help in the data collection, data analyses, and the writing of this thesis. She is a guide not only in my study, but also in my life.

I would like to show my most sincere appreciation to the academic, technical and

administrative staff in the School of Health and Human Sciences, the staff of the International Office, and the staff of the Library at Southern Cross Universityfor their kind and warm help in the study and the life of a young student far way from her home.

My appreciation also goes to Mr. Xu Li, the director of Chinese Volleyball Management Center, and Mr. Cai Yi, the secretary of competition department of Chinese Volleyball Management Center, along with the coaches and players in China national women volleyball team, Bayi-army women volleyball team, Tianjin women volleyball team, Shanghai women volleyball team, Jiangsu provincial women

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volleyball team, Liaoning provincial women volleyball team, Sichuan provincial women volleyball team, Zhejiang provincial women volleyball team and Shandong provincial women volleyball team. They gave me unreserved help and support along my data collection and made this investigation possible. Their kindness and patience to a young student like me will always be treasured up in my memory.

Last but by no means the least, my thanks are also go to my parents. It is always their love and support that makes me rosy in the writing of this thesis and in my daily life as well.

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Table of Contents

Declaration

1

Abstract

2

Acknowledgement ………………………………………………

……………………………

4

Table of Contents

   

6

List of Tables

9

List of Figures

15

1. Chapter One: Introduction

16

1.1 Background of the research

16

1.2 Significance of the research

24

1.3 Statement of the problem

24

1.4 Purposes of the research

25

1.5 Research

hypotheses

25

1.6 Research

outline

26

1.7 Limitations of the research

26

2. Chapter Two: Literature Review

 

28

2.1 Volleyball

28

2.2 Anthropometry and sports

30

2.3 Somatotype

42

2.4 Physical performance………………………………………………………………

55

2.5 The recruitment based on anthropometry

70

2.6 Summary of the Literature Review

84

3. Chapter Three: Methods

 

85

3.1 Participants

85

3.2 Research design

87

3.3 Ethical considerations

88

3.4 Equipment

89

3.5 Procedures

89

3.6 Statistical analysis

106

6

4.

Chapter Four: Results

107

4.1 Results for anthropometric variables and physical performance measurements

107 …

4.2 Correlations between the anthropometric characteristics and physical performance…

4.3. Anthropometric characteristics of the players at the five volleyball positions 114

111

4.4 Physical performance of the five volleyball position groups

120

4.5 Somatotypes of elite Chinese women volleyball player

123

4.6 Clustering analyses for anthropometric profile of elite Chinese women volleyball

players

126

4.7 Regression analysis and prediction of physical performance

129

5. Chapter Five: Discussion

138

5.1 Analysis on anthropometric characteristics of elite Chinese women volleyball

players

138

5.2 Analyses of anthropometric characteristics between different volleyball positions……

140

5.3 The relationship between anthropometric characteristics and physical performance…

149

5.4 The differences in physical performance between different volleyball positions

155

5.5 Somatotypes

156

5.6 Typical anthropometric characteristics of volleyball players

162

5.7 Regression model for anthropometric characteristic and physical performance of

 

elite Chinese women volleyball players

164

6. Chapter Six: Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research

167

6.1 Conclusions

167

6.2 Suggestions for future research

169

7. References

171

8. Appendices

184

7

Appendix 1: Definition of terms

184

Appendix 2: Health status assessment

190

Appendix 2: Health status assessment (Chinese)

194

Appendix 3: Information sheet

198

Appendix 3: Information sheet (Chinese)

202

Appendix 4: Informed consent form

205

Appendix 4: Informed consent form (Chinese)

208

Appendix 5: Expert Questionnaires

210

Appendix 6: Tables for results

211

Publication ………………………………………………………………………………254

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List of Tables

Number

Title

Page

Table 1-1

The mean values of body mass and stature of elite women

17

Table 1-2

volleyball players in the past four Olympics games Physical characteristics of the female volleyball players at different positions of the top six teams in the 26 th Olympic Games

21

Table 2-1

Physical ability tests significantly correlated with

34

Table 2-2

proficiency in the game A comparison of anthropometric indices between the

36

Table 2-3

players from China and three other countries (Mean ± SD) The physical characteristics of 287 players in the 15 th World

36

Table 2-4

Women Volleyball Tournament. A comparison of four anthropometric indices between Chinese and Italian, Russian and USA women’s volleyball teams.

39

Table 2-5

A comparison of “(trochanterion height - calf length)/calf

40

length×100”

Table 2-6

Average value of the index of “Achilles’ tendon/calf length ×100” in gymnasts and volleyball players (mean ± SD)

41

Table 2-7

A comparison of the index “ankle girth/Achilles’ tendon×100” in different sports (mean ± SD)

41

Table 2-8

Categorization of somatotype methods based on Heath-Carter

46

Table 2-9

measurement Results of female volleyball players somototype

49

Table 2-10

Somatotypes of ten varsity and nine junior varsity women

52

Table 2-11

intercollegiate volleyball players Statistics of four indices of female volleyball players from top 9 teams in the 26 th Olympics Games

68

9

Table 2-12

Anthropometric characteristics of elite female volleyball

78

Table 2-13

players at volleyball positions The anthropometric characteristics of the spikers in 15 th

79

Table 2-14

World Women’s Volleyball Tournament The anthropometric characteristics of the second spikers in 15 th World Women’s Volleyball Tournament

79

Table 2-15

The anthropometric characteristics of the setters in 15 th World

80

Table 2-16

Women’s Volleyball Tournament The anthropometric characteristics of the second setters in 15 th

80

Table 2-17

World Women’s Volleyball Tournament The anthropometric characteristics of the liberos in 15 th World

80

Table 3-1

Women’s Volleyball Tournament The top eight teams of the 2007-2008 Chinese Women’s

85

Table 3-2

Volleyball Tournament The general information for all volleyball players

86

Table 3-3

General information for the five players’ positions

86

Table 3-4

The items of anthropometric measurements

90

Table 3-5

The derived indices from the anthropometric data

92

Table 3-6

Results statistics of the survey

101

Table 3-7

Test-Retest Reliability of Four Physical performance Tests

102

Table 4-1

Anthropometric variables for elite Chinese women volleyball players

211

Table 4-2

Somatotype values for elite Chinese women volleyball players

108

Table 4-3

Physical performance testing data for elite Chinese women

108

Table 4-4

volleyball players Derived anthropometric indices of elite Chinese women

109

Table 4-5

volleyball players Correlations between anthropometric profile and medicine ball throwing

213

10

Table 4-6

Correlations between anthropometric profile and T-shuttle run agility test

215

Table 4-7

Correlations between anthropometric profile and timed 20 sit-ups performance

217

Table 4-8

Correlations between anthropometric profile and running vertical jump height

218

Table 4-9

Correlations coefficients between the derived anthropometric indices and medicine ball throwing

220

Table 4-10

Correlations between the derived anthropometric indices and T-shuttle run agility test

221

Table 4-11

Correlations between the derived anthropometric indices and timed 20 sit-ups

222

Table 4-12

Correlations between derived anthropometric indices and running vertical jump

223

Table 4-13

Correlations between BMI and physical performance

113

Table 4-14

Correlations between sum of four skinfolds and physical

113

Table 4-15

performance Correlations between somatotype values and physical

114

Table 4-16

performance One-way ANOVA for anthropometric indices of players at different positions

224

Table 4-17

One-way ANOVA for evaluation indices of players at different

226

Table 4-18

positions One-way ANOVA for body composition anthropometric indices of players at different positions

115

Table 4-19

One-way ANOVA for body composition evaluation indices of players at different positions

116

Table 4-20

Multiple comparison for basic anthropometric difference among the players at different positional groups

229

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Table 4-21

Multiple comparison for length indices among the players at

230

Table 4-22

different positional groups Multiple comparison for breadth indices among the players at

233

Table 4-23

different positional groups Multiple comparison for girth indices among the players at different positional groups (A)

234

Table 4-24

Multiple comparison for girth indices among the players at

236

Table 4-25

different positional groups (B) Multiple comparison for derived indices of “spikers-second spikers”

238

Table 4-26

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “spikers-setter”

239

Table 4-27

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “spikers-second

240

Table 4-28

setter” Multiple comparison for derived indices of “spikers-libero”

241

Table 4-29

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “second spikers-setter”

242

Table 4-30

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “second spikers-second setter”

243

Table 4-31

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “second spikers-libero”

244

Table 4-32

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “setter-second setter”

245

Table 4-33

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “setter-libero”

246

Table 4-34

Multiple comparison for derived indices of “second setter-libero”

247

Table 4-35

Multiple comparisons for anthropometric indices of body

118

Table 4-36

composition among the players at different positional groups Multiple comparisons for evaluation indices of body composition among the players at different positional groups

119

12

Table 4-37

One-way ANOVA for physical fitness of players at different

120

Table 4-38

tactical positions Multiple comparisons for physical fitness among the players at different positional groups

122

Table 4-39

Distributions of the somatotypes of elite Chinese women volleyball players

124

Table 4-40

Somatotype distributions in the eight women volleyball teams

124

Table 4-41

ANOVA for somatotype value of the players at different

125

Table 4-42

tactical positions Comparisons of somatotype data at the five volleyball

248

Table 4-43

positions Comparisons of statistics of percentage of somatotyping between players at the five volleyball positions

249

Table 4-44

Comparisons of somatotypes between players at the five

126

Table 4-45

volleyball positions Difference analyses for somatotype values of different

250

Table 4-46

positional groups Numbering of anthropometry indices

251

Table 4-47

Statistics table of R-model cluster coefficient

252

Table 4-48

Statistical table of R-model cluster for typical indices

128

Table 4-49

Summary of regression prediction of medicine ball throwing

129

Table 4-50

with anthropometric indices Coefficients a of regression prediction of medicine ball

130

Table 4-51

throwing with anthropometric indices Summary of regression prediction of running vertical jump

131

Table 4-52

with anthropometric indices Coefficients a of regression prediction of running vertical jump

132

Table 4-53

with anthropometric indices Summary of regression prediction of T-shuttle run agility test

133

13

Table 4-54

with anthropometric indices Coefficients a of regression prediction of T-shuttle run agility

133

Table 4-55

test with anthropometric indices Summary of regression prediction of timed 20 sit-ups with

134

Table 4-56

anthropometric indices Coefficients a of regression prediction of timed 20 sit-ups with

135

Table 5-1

anthropometric indices Comparison of anthropometric data between top women

140

Table 5-2

volleyball teams in Chinese and world Comparison of stature between top women volleyball teams in

146

Table 5-3

Chinese and world Comparison of body mass between top women volleyball

147

Table 5-4

teams in Chinese and world Comparison of the Katoly indices between top women

148

Table 5-5

volleyball teams in Chinese and world Somatotype characteristics for Italian female volleyball players

157

Table 5-6

in different volleyball positions Statistics for Foreign women volleyball players’ somatotyp

160

Table 5-7

Summary of the regression models for specific physical

165

Table 5-8

performance to anthropometric characteristics of elite Chinese women volleyball players Test of regression equation for specific physical performance of elite Chinese women volleyball players

166

14

List of Figures

Number

Title

Page

Figure 1-1

The average height of elite women volleyball players in the top four teams in the past four Olympics games, compared with that of the Chinese team

19

Figure 2-1

Somatochart for Greek female players from different competition level

82

Figure 3-1

The sites of anthropometric measurements

90

Figure 3-2

The medicine ball throwing test

103

Figure 3-3

The running vertical jump test

104

Figure 3-4

The route of T-shuttle run agility test

105

Figure 3-5

The T-shuttle run agility test

105

Figure 3-6

The timed 20 sit-ups test

106

Figure 4-1

Clustering pedigree chart for anthropometric indices

127

Figure 5-1

Distribution of somatotypes of elite Chinese women volleyball players at different volleyball positions

159

Figure 5-2

Distribution of Chinese and foreign elite women volleyball players’ somatotype

161

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1. Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Background of the research

1.1.1 The characteristics of volleyball as a sport Volleyball is a complex game of simple skills. The volleyball court is a rectangular field with the size of 9 × 9 m on each half separated by a net of 2.24 m in height in the middle. Two teams in the match, as opponents, will exercise various skills and tactics to attack and to defend. The ball is served into play. To attack, the players try to make the ball fall down onto the ground of the opposite side. To defend, they try to prevent the ball from falling down onto the ground of their own side. A team can touch the ball three times on its own side. As a purely rebound ball game (you can't hold the ball), volleyball is a sport of constant motion. The basic pattern of movement in making an attack includes a dig (an underarm pass made with the forearms), a set (an overhead pass made with the hands), and a spike (the overhead attacking shot). Teams can also try to block the opponent's spike as the ball crosses the net (International Volleyball Federation, 2008).

In each team there are six players standing in two rows with three players in each. In a match, every player should change their position in turn except the libero, which means every player on the court should be able to serve, set, pass, spike and block. So it is essential for the players to possess physique and physical performance that allow them to play their roles most effectively (Chen, 1989a).

The height over the volleyball net always means the mastery of the game. The height is decided by a combination of the athlete’s body height and the jumping height, and usually it is shown in blocking height and spiking height. A team will lose its capacity of winning a score if there is a lack of predominance over the net (Tian, 2006).

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It has also shown in recent years that there is a trend that more women’s teams adopt the technique, tactics and physical performance that were previously seen only in male volleyball players. The skills like higher attack, powerful jumping-serve, attack from the back row and aggressive blocking are now widely used by female volleyball players. All these bring forward greater demand for specific physical fitness and physique of female volleyball players. For example, during the period from 1992 to 2002, the number of female volleyball players who were taller than 190 cm increased rapidly (Gao, 2006). Table 1-1 shows the trend of change in anthropometry and the height indices of the top six women volleyball teams in the 26 th to the 29 th Olympics games (Zhang, 1998b, Gao, 2006, International Volleyball Federation, 2008).

Table 1-1 The mean values of body mass and stature of elite women volleyball players in the past four Olympics games

Games

26 th

27 th

28 th

29 th

Mass

71.4

71.7

71.8

73.4

Stature

1.81

1.82

1.83

1.84

Spiking height

306.7

305.2

304.8

Blocking height

290.4

291.9

297.2

Source: (Gao, 2006; International Volleyball Federation, 2008; Zhang, 1998)

1.1.2 Physical performance of volleyball players In volleyball, technical and tactical skills, anthropometric characteristics and individual physical performance capacities are most important factors that contribute to the success of a team in competitions (Hakkinen, 1993).

Physiologically, a volleyball game is an intermittent exercise that requires the players to perform frequently short bouts of high-intensity activities such as jump and spike, followed by periods of low-intensity activities (Kuenstlinger et al., 1987, Viitasalo et al., 1987). Therefore the players should possess both high aerobic and anaerobic power.

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The instant and explosive spiking and blocking over the net are intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism which means lactic acid may accumulate in the blood. Moreover, since the match time is not restricted, a match sometimes may last for more than two hours. Therefore, it also requires a high level of aerobic fitness (Chen, 2005, Tian, 2006).

Volleyball players require well-developed muscular strength, power and endurance, speed, agility, and flexibility, and have a high level of jumping ability, fast reaction time and swift movements (She, 1999). Considerable demand is also placed on the neuromuscular system during sprints, jumps (blocking and spiking), and high-intensity court movements that occur repeatedly during competition (Hakkinen, 1993).

Versatility and speediness are the trend of development in modern volleyball sport. “Versatility” means that the athletes should not only be well-prepared for their specific position, but also posses high levels of all-round skills in serving, setting, spiking, blocking and defense. “Speediness” requires the athletes to be able to move quickly to the optimal place on the court. Speediness and agility in tactics, as the key factors, work together to make suddenness the feature of modern volleyball sport (Huang,

1992).

Among all the physical performance indicators, speed and power (eg. in jumping and spiking) are of the most important ones. Particularly, jumping height is decisive for the execution of techniques and tactics (Jin et al., 2007). The research by Japan Volleyball Association demonstrated the significant correlation between the vertical jumping index and the competitive ability of the volleyball players. It was found that the jumping ability had a positive correlation with the number of spiking, and the total success rates of spiking, blocking and serving in a game (Tian, 2006).

1.1.3 Anthropometric characteristics of female volleyball players Optimal physique is apparently an advantage to volleyball performance. Only when a

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volleyball team is collectively equipped with all the ideal anthropometric characteristics can the team win the dominance in a game (Chen, 2005).

Height has been reported to be a discriminating factor between successful and non-successful teams in a collegiate tournament (Morrow et al., 1979), correlating significantly with the final standings of an open national tournament (Gladden and Colacino, 1978). The height over the net is a decisive factor for volleyball games, determined by the athletes’ stature and jumping height, and shown in blocking height and spiking height. All these bring forward the demand for specific physique of volleyball athletes. The stature data shown in Figure 1-1 demonstrates the trend of change in the top women’s volleyball teams in recent Olympic games (Gao, 2006).

188 186 184 182 180 178 176 26th 27th 28th 29th Height(cm)
188
186
184
182
180
178
176
26th
27th
28th
29th
Height(cm)

Chinese teamTop four teams in Olympics

Top four teams in OlympicsChinese team

Figure 1-1 The average height of elite women volleyball players in the top four teams in the past four Olympics games, compared with that of the Chinese team Source: Zhang (1998b) and Gao (2006).

The rivalry in modern volleyball games focuses on the dominance over the net, and the best way to win this dominance is to recruit athletes who are taller with greater jumping ability. Previous investigations indicated that elite volleyball players did demonstrate advantageous physique characteristics (Li, 1995). The major characteristics of volleyball players include high stature and standing reach height, low Katoly index (= mass/height×1000), long arm span, long Achilles’ tendon and long

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lower-limb and calf. As a result, in the recr uitment, high stature should not be
lower-limb and calf. As a result, in the recr uitment, high stature should not be

lower-limb and calf. As a result, in the recruitment, high stature should not be the only criterion, other characteristics should also be considered (Tian, 2006).

Body mass correlates well to muscle size and power in elite athletes. It has been

reported that Katoly index correlates well to the quantity and strength of muscles (Gai

and Li, 2002, Li, 2002).

Arm span and standing reach height have also been suggested as essential factors for higher spiking and blocking (Zeng, 1992). Arm span is closely related to most of the volleyball techniques, especially in attacking. To make full use of the spiking speed of a waving arm, a long arm is an advantage. Jin and colleagues suggested that standing reach height should be used as an essential criterion in recruitment of volleyball players (Jin et al., 2007). You and Huang (2000) suggested that arm length had a significant correlation with the performance over the volleyball net, especially in attacking (You and Huang, 2000). Longer arm is important too in defence. The length of the arm span of elite volleyball players has been found to be approximately 5 cm longer than his/her height. The arm span and the standing reach height are found to be closely related (Zeng, 1992).

In summary, the anthropometric characteristics of volleyball players have been reported as high stature, and relatively longer limbs, shorter sitting height, higher lean mass, larger girth difference between the relaxed and flexed-and-tensed arm, wider hand, narrower pelvis, longer calf, slimmer ankle, longer Achilles’ tendon, and wider but not longer feet (Tian, 2006).

1.1.4 Physique characteristics of volleyball players at different positions An athlete’s anthropometric characteristics represent important prerequisites for successful participation in any given sport (Gualdi-Russo and Zaccagni, 2001b). Indeed, it can be assumed that an athlete’s anthropometric characteristics can in some way influence his/her level of performance (Carter and Heath, 1990, Rienzi et al.,

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1999). However, although studies have examined the anthropometric and physiological profiles of athletes from a variety of sports (Cardinal, 1993, Gabbett, 2000b, Rienzi et al., 1999, Zabukovec and Tiidus, 1995a) it appears that few studies have examined the anthropometric or physiological profile of elite volleyball players, particular in relation to their positional role within the sport (Duncan et al., 2006).

It has been suggested that volleyball players at different positions have different anthropometric characteristics, especially in height. Nowadays, among the prominent volleyball players in the world, the average height of setters is about 180185 cm, spikers is about 185190 cm, second spikers is about 190200 cm, and second setters is about 185 195 cm (Ling, 2007b). Table 1-2 shows the physical characteristics of the female volleyball players of the top six teams in the 26 th Olympics Games, and the players at different positions (Zhang, 1998b).

Table 1-2 Physical characteristics of the female volleyball players at different positions of the top six teams in the 26 th Olympic Games

 

Spikers

Second

Setters

Second

 

spikers

setters

Body mass (kg) Stature (cm)

70.8

73.9

68.4

72.2

180.5

184.8

175.9

181.3

Running vertical jump

307.6

309.9

295.3

307.6

(cm)

Source: (Ling, 2007a)

1.1.5 Physique and recruitment of talented volleyball players Success in sport competitions has been associated with specific anthropometric characteristics, body composition and somatotype (Bayios et al., 2006, Duncan et al., 2006, Hakkinen, 1993).

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Recruitment based on scientific analysis and early training is critical in modern sports training. Volleyball players usually begin their training at the age of 11-12 (Guo, 1999). The reliability of the prediction for volleyball players’ future height has been thought as a key factor of a successful recruitment (Huang, 1992).

In the world, and in China, various methods and approaches have been utilized in the selection of players, such as performance based, by experience of coaches, use of qualitative and quantitative indices, and scientific testing. Talent identification for players always includes certain anthropometric measurements. Among the anthropometric indices, some of them are highly attributable to heredity (e.g. stature, length and width), but some others are with very low heredity, such as the nutrition indices like body mass.

The talent search for volleyball program at Queensland Academy of Sport has identified that height, standing reach height, muscular power, speed, agility, and maximal aerobic power are essential characteristics for success in volleyball (Gabbett et al., 2006). It has been demonstrated that junior players and teams are significantly different to elite players and teams in some selected physiological and anthropometric measurements.

The average age of a champion team is usually in the range of 23 to 25 years. It normally needs 8 to 10 years to build up a champion team or to cultivate a champion athlete. Therefore, the best age for recruitment is around 13 years for female athletes and 15 years for male athletes. An important issue in the recruitment is the prediction of the physique, and the reliability of the prediction. So far the recruitment of volleyball athletes have been mainly based on personal experience of the coaches, and this, to some extent, restricts the improvement of volleyball sport.

Huang (1992) also suggested that, in the recruitment of volleyball players, “the anthropometric characteristics include stature, body mass, relative length of the limbs,

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the length of the limbs/stature ratio, palm and foot length, body and limbs girths and widths, mass/stature, etc., we should pay attention not only on the indices of girths and mass/height ratio, but also the relative length of limbs and Achilles’ tendons, the stature and the height of feet arches” (Huang, 1992).

Yang (1996) had collected 106 testing items for physical performance (23 items from China, 26 items from Japan, 26 items from USA, 10 items from Canada, 14 items from former Soviet Union, and 7 items from Holland), and categorized 61 test items that were commonly used in these countries to six domains that were thought to be closely related to volleyball performance, including: explosive force, stamina, agility, muscle strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. Furthermore, 10 testing items were selected, including 20-metre sprint starting from a prone position, spiking jump, 3-step frog-leap, medicine ball throwing, sit-ups, 12-minute race, 3-metre shuttle run, 36-metre shuttle run, deep squat with barbell, standing forward body flexion (Yang, 1996). Gabbett et al. (2006) selected the following items to measure physical performance of volleyball players: lower-body muscular power (vertical jump, spike jump), upper-body muscular power (over-head medicine ball throwing), speed (5-m and 10-m sprint), agility (T-test), and maximal aerobic power (multistage fitness test). However, there have been few reports on the relationship between the anthropometric characteristics and physical performance of elite volleyball players, particularly at different playing positions.

In summary, volleyball is a team sport which requires specific anthropometric characterics of players for elite performance, particularly in relation to dominance over the net. Volleyball coaches have been paying greater attention on anthropometric characteristics in recruitment of potential players. However, according to the literature we collected, at present there are few reports on the anthropometry profile of elite volleyball players. Particularly there is a paucity of information on the differences between players at different playing positions and the relationships between the anthropometry measurements and physical performance.

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1.2

Significance of the research

This study was the first to systematically analyse the anthropometric characteristics, and their relationship with physical performance for elite female volleyball players in China. Through quantitative analysis of elite female volleyball players, unique physique characteristics to volleyball players may be identified that will provide evidence for validation of indices that will be useful in recruitment of talented athletes.

Athletes at different positions in volleyball may have different physique. Defining these differences for elite female volleyball players may assist further in the identification of talented athletes for specific positions.

Anthropometry is a very old science, and, like many old sciences it has followed a variety of paths. One of the consequences of multiple anthropometric traditions has been the lack of standardization in the identification of measurement sites, and in measurement techniques. This makes comparisons across time and space extremely difficult. The International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) has recommended standardized practices in anthropometry (Marfell-Jones et al., 2006b). This study will be the first study that applies ISAK standards in examining the anthropometric characteristics of Chinese players. Adoption of the international standards will allow comparative studies for the data collected from Chinese players with those from other countries.

1.3 Statement of the problem

1) Anthropometric characteristics have been recognized as important contributors to volleyball performance. However, in China various non-standardized methods and definitions have been used in the past to describe athletes’ anthropometric characteristics and no information is available about the somatotypes of elite Chinese female volleyball players.

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2) There has been no information available about the specific anthropometric characteristics of volleyball players at different positions.

3) Various indicators have been used in the past for athletes’ physical performance. However, no one has examined the relationships between standardized anthropometric measurements and performance indicators for elite Chinese female volleyball players.

1.4 Purposes of the research

1) To establish an anthropometric profile (31 items) database for elite Chinese female volleyball players (top eight teams in 2008 China National Tournament) and the players at different positions (the spiker, the second spiker, setter, the second setter and the libero), using the methods recommended by the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK).

2) To examine the physique and proportions of body parts and their correlations to four selected physical performance indicators of the Chinese elite female volleyball players.

1.5 Research hypotheses

1) There are no significant correlations between the measured anthropometric variables and the selected physical performance indicators of the elite Chinese female volleyball players (Null hypothesis).

2) There are no significant differences in anthropometric characteristics between five player positions, namely, the spiker, the second spiker, the setter, the second setter and the libero (Null hypothesis).

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3) There are no significant differences in physical performance between the five player positions, namely, the spiker, the second spiker, setter, the second setter and the libero (Null hypothesis).

1.6 Research outline

In this study, we recruited 100 elite female volleyball players in China. We established anthropometric profiles for the players’ and measured their physical performance variables. We chose 31 anthropometry variables, which were according to the characteristics of volleyball, and through these 31 anthropometry variables, we got 22 derived variables for a better understanding of the physique characteristics of Chinese elite women volleyball players. Furthermore, according to the characteristics of volleyball, we also chose four physical performance measurements for an understanding of the correlations between the anthropometric characteristics and physical performance of female volleyball players. The four physical performance variables are commonly used by the China Volleyball Association.

1.7 Limitations of the research

Some participants were unwilling to expose certain areas of their body for anthropometric measurements that resulted in missing data in some cases. Best effort was made to collect all data with respect to participants’ privacy and dignity.

As a team sport, it was difficult to validate indicators for performance in competitions for each individual athlete. The analysis of the data was under the assumption that athletes from these eight top teams were of the same calibre and the substitute players possessed similar status as those who were more frequently seen on court.

Due to time constraints, only four physical performance measurements were taken in this study that might not have reflected all determining factors in elite performance and

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in selection of potential athletes.

It would be ideal to collect the same set of data from lower ranked adult teams and junior teams for comparisons that would allow identification of the differences between elite and lower ranked teams, and best indices in selection of talented volleyball players. This study was to set the initial bench marks for future research in this area, however would not be able to investigate players from other levels of teams due to time constraint.

Due to injury, some players were unable to participate in the measurement of physical performance. Therefore, only 87 athletes were involved in the performance measurements whilst 100 participated in the anthropometric measurements.

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2. Chapter Two: Literature Review

2.1 Volleyball

Volleyball is a popular sport. It has become the second most popular sport next to football in China, and with over 150 million participants in the world (International Volleyball Federation, 2008).

2.1.1 Volleyball game The volleyball court is a rectangle field with a size of 9×9 m on each half and a net of 2.24 m high in the middle. Two teams in the match, as opponents, will exercise various skills and tactics to attack and to defend. To attack, they will try their best to make the ball fall down onto the opposite side. To defend, they will prevent the ball from falling down onto their own side. In a match each team has six players playing on the court. They stand in two rows with three players in each. The players’ standing position on the court will rotate clockwise except the libero, which means every player should be able to serve, set, pass, spike and block. So it is essential for the players to possess the physique and physical performance that allow them to play their roles most effectively (Chen, 1989a). Especially, to make their attack and defence effective, the dominance over the net becomes the most important factor. Therefore the height and abilities over net are the decisive factor for victory (Huang, 1992).

To execute volleyball skills and tactics, players need high levels of physical performance specifically in muscle strength, speed of movement, arm spiking, jump with and without running up, stamina of movement, agility, and flexibility of shoulders, waist, knees, and wrist, etc. (Chen, 2005). Among all the physical performance, jumping ability, speed and explosive force are of the most important. Research by the Japan Volleyball Association demonstrated a significant correlation between the vertical jump and the ability in competitions of the volleyball players. It was found that the jumping ability had a positive correlation with the number of spiking, and the

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overall success rate of spiking, blocking and serving in a game (Tian, 2006).

2.1.2 The trend of development in the world women’s volleyball The height-over-the-volleyball-net determines the domination in a game. The height-over-net is determined by the player’s stature and jumping ability, usually shown in blocking height and spiking height (Huang, 1992).

The stature and jumping ability of the players are among the most important factors in winning volleyball games (Gladden and Colacino, 1978). Spiking height and blocking height do not simply represent the jumping ability. They also reflect the athletes’ abilities in attack and defence. Therefore these measurements are often used as important indices to evaluate the attacking and defending abilities of a team as a whole (Ge, 2003; Heimer et al., 1988; MacLaren, 1990).

The attack and block represent 45% of the total actions in a game and are attributable for 80% of the scores obtained in international matches (Voigt and Vetter, 2003). The performance of these volleyball skills as well as the serves depend on the height that the players can reach (Stanganelli et al., 2008).

The skills that are commonly used in men’s volleyball, such as higher attack, powerful jumping-serve, attack from the back row and aggressive blocking, are now widely used in women’s volleyball games. It brings forward a higher demand for the anthropometric characteristics of women volleyball players (Gao, 2006).

The standing height alone can no longer warrant winning in a volleyball game. At present, the women volleyball players who perform better appear to be “bigger and stronger,” in contrast of the notion “thin and tall” in the past. Only the players who are equipped with greater weight and strength in addition to height can meet the requirement of fast developing techniques and tactics in modern volleyball sport (Jin et al., 2007, Xing et al., 2006).

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2.1.3

Summary

It can be summarized that the contemporary development of women’s volleyball sport has demonstrated a trend of gaining the dominance over the net, players being taller and having greater muscle strength and power, and the tactics and techniques used being closer to that commonly seen in men’s volleyball.

Little information is found in the literature about the anthropometric characteristics and their correlations with women volleyball players’ skills, and tactics, except some limited information on stature and body mass. Therefore, it is suggested that to evaluate the relationships between anthropometric characteristics and physical performance in the elite women volleyball players, more comprehensive anthropometric assessment is necessary.

2.2. Anthropometry and sports

2.2.1 Introduction

In this section, literature with a focus on the concept and the measurements of

anthropometry is reviewed.

2.2.1.1 Concepts of anthropometry

Anthropometry: Anthropometry like any other area of science depends upon adherence to the particular rules of measurement as determined by national and international standards bodies (Norton and Olds, 1996). There are two ways to appraise

anthropometry. One is to compare the absolute value of the data obtained through anthropometric measurements, and the other is to transfer the measured data into normalized indices for evaluation (Ye, 1995).

2.2.1.2 Introduction of ISAK anthropometry standards in China

Anthropometric measurements are not widely-used for athletes in China and there has

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been no standardization of the measurement methods

consensus on the landmarks for determination of measurement sites, measurement skills and procedures. A lack of standardization not only cause discrepancies in measurements, but also prevent valid and reliable comparisons of anthropometry data. At present, the ISAK methods have not been commonly accepted and used in China. This study was the first that applied ISAK standards in anthropometry research in China. Adoption of the international standards will allow the data collected from Chinese athletes to be directly comparable with those collected from other countries where ISAK methods have also been adopted.

example, there were no

For

2.2.1.3 Derived anthropometric indices in relation to sports Based on original anthropometric measurements, some indices have been derived. These anthropometric indices can be divided into four categories: physique, length, breadth and girth (Tan and Chou, 2003). Some commonly used indices are listed below.

Length indicesupper limbs length/stature index, middle fingers span/stature index, sitting height/stature index, forearm length/upper limb length index, lower limb length/stature index, calf length plus feet length/lower limb length index, lower limb length B minus calf length A/ calf length A index, and feet length/stature index. These indices use the proportion of certain body segments’ length normalized to the stature (or other reference body segments) to obtain the relative value of a particular body segment’s length (Tan and Chou, 2003).

Breadth indicesShoulder breadth/stature index, pelvis breadth/shoulder breadth index, and hand breadth/stature index. These indices use the proportion of certain body segments’ breadth normalized to the stature (or other reference body segments) to obtain the relative value of a particular body segment’s breadth (Tan and Chou, 2003).

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Girth indicesChest girth/stature index, upper arm (in tension) girth/stature index, upper arm (relaxed) girth/stature index, thigh girth/stature index, and calf girth/stature index. These indices use the proportion of certain body segments girth normalized to stature to get the relative value. The greater the index, the stronger the body segments (Tan and Chou, 2003).

Physique indices: They are calculated from two or more anthropometry measurements. It involves the proportion and inherent relationship between different segments of the body. Sometimes it requires comparison of the absolute values of a body segment, while in other occasions it requires to evaluate the proportion of the body segment to the stature. For instance, lower limbs length is an absolute value, whereas the derived index of lower limb length is a relative value calculated from the formula “lower limbs

length/stature×100%”.

Katoly index: It is index for the ratio of a person's mass to height. The Katoly index is calculated from the formula of “body mass (kg)/stature (cm)×1000”. Through the relationship between body mass and stature, it denotes the body mass per centimetre height, reflecting the girth, breadth, thickness and tissue density of the human body. The Katoly index reflects the proportion of height and weight in the process of growth, and has been used as one of the basic anthropometric evaluations for athletes. Its rationale lies in the fact that height is under the control of heredity, whereas weight is greatly influenced by environmental factors, nutrition and training. The Katoly index is suggested to reflect muscle strength and power (Li, 2004).

Body mass index (BMI): It is calculated by “body mass (kg)/stature (m 2 ) (Malousarisa et al., 2008). It has been one of the most commonly utilised indices in the assessment of body mass to height ratio.

2.2.1.4 Anthropometric measurements in sport Evaluation of anthropometric characteristics can be performed with two methods,

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namely direct evaluation and indirect evaluation. Direct evaluation adopts absolute values of the anthropometric data, while indirect evaluation is achieved through converting the anthropometric data into corresponding derived indices (Tan and Chou,

2003).

In sports related research, anthropometric methods are widely applied in the recruitment of potential athletes. Different sports have different anthropometric characteristics, therefore specific anthropometric variables should be used for talent identification in different sports.

For the recruitment of juvenile volleyball players, the commonly used anthropometric variables include stature, arm span minus height, lower limb length (iliospinale height) /stature×100, length of Achilles’ tendon/calf length plus foot arch height×100, breadth of biiliocristal/biacromial×100 (Zeng, 1992).

There have been numerous studies that attempt to answer the questions on whether player’s physique is a precondition to gain high performance; whether different sport events have special requirements on player’s physique; and whether there is correlation between player’s physique and the development of physical performance. However, there has been limited information on the anthropometry profile of elite volleyball players in China.

2.2.2 Anthropometric characteristics of elite volleyball players 2.2.2.1 Anthropometric characteristics and physical performance Physique mainly includes body constitution, body composition, body type, body carriage, and bone age. It is usually used to study the human body’s external condition covering body shape, growth and build. Volleyball sport demonstrates unique anthropometry characteristics that are different from other sports. Volleyball players’ physique characteristics are mainly reflected by stature, body mass, Katoly index and some other typical physique indices, which are associated with specific physical

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performance like jumping ability, agility and strength, etc. Coaches and researchers

have recognized the importance of the anthropometric conditions in early identification

of the athletes with over-net dominance and developing potentials of specific physical

performance (Tan and Chou, 2003).

Stamm (2003) utilized a number of tests for female volleyball players’ physical

performance. These tests included: jumping ability (standing vertical jump and reach

and running vertical jump and reach); maximum aerobic endurance (20 m shuttle run);

trunk strength (sit-up test); flexibility test (the extent of bending forward from sitting

position); agility and speed (a zigzag run test); and upper body and arms strength

(medicine ball throwing test), and reported that four of these tests showed a significant

correlation with game proficiency (See Table 2-1). The aerobic endurance was

measured by 20 m shuttle run, flexibility was measured by the extent of bending

forward from sitting position, agility and speed of movement was measured by a

zigzag run test, and upper body strength was measured by the medicine ball throwing

test. The upper body and arms strength was found to contribute to 22% of the

efficiency of attack.

Table 2-1

Physical ability tests significantly correlated with proficiency in the

game

 

No

Variables

Mean

SD

Min

Max

Partial correlation with efficiency of game element

(N=32)

 

Reception

feint

attack

r

r

r

PA

3

Endurance

386.3

86.7

135

515

-0.526

0.426

PA

5

Flexibility

16.3

6.2

5

32.5

0.457

 

(cm)

PA

6

Speed

27.8

1.6

24.7

33

-0.587

PA

7

Medicine

304.5

48.3

210

400

0.468

 

ball throw

(cm)

Note: PA 3 : maximum aerobic endurance was measured by 20 m shuttle run

PA 5 : flexibility test measured the extent of bending forward from sitting position

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PA 6 : agility and speed of movement was measured by a zigzag run test PA 7 : upper body and arms strength were measured by the medicine ball throwing test (Stamm et al., 2003).

Stamm et al. (2000) reported statistically significant correlations between anthropometric variables. As for the tests of physical ability, six out of the eight variables were also significantly correlated to each other. As the tests of physical abilities were correlated with many anthropometric variables, it was proved possible to predict the physical abilities of the volleyball players from age and anthropometric characteristics.

From the analyses of the literature, it is clear that there is a relationship between volleyball players’ anthropometric profile and physical performance. Grgantov et al. (2007) indicated that a greater body height would allow the ball contact occurring at a greater height above the net; a greater ankle diameter would ensure a greater stability and facilitate landing and taking off in spike and block; an increased wrist diameter would contribute to the ball shooting strength on spike and serve; and increased trunk and thigh muscle strength would contribute to the efficacy in all techniques, especially those involving jump (Grgantov et al., 2007).

Yuan (1982) suggested some other anthropometric characteristics for juvenile volleyball players identification, such as longer toes (especially the second toes), longer hands and feet, narrower pelvis and ankles, high flexibility, and the growth showing a promising taller height (Yuan, 1982).

Qu (2007) measured the anthropometric profile of women volleyball players in the 26 th Olympic Games, and made a comparison between the Chinese players and players from other countries (Qu, 2007). The results of the comparisons are shown in Table

2-2.

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Table 2-2 A comparison of anthropometric indices between the players from China and three other countries (Mean ± SD)

Indices

China

Cuba

Brazil

Russia

Stature(cm)

183.0±3.4

179.8±6.3

182.5±5.3

185.8±4.5

Body mass

73.4±3.3

72.7±4.4

70.4±6.6

74.4±3.0

(kg)

Katoly index

372.4±33.9

366.9±29.3

389.2±14.9

369.4±20.9

Qu (2007) also collected data for the anthropometric variables of 287 women players in the 15 th World Women Volleyball Tournament as shown in Table 2-3.

Table 2-3 The physical characteristics of 287 players in the 15 th World Women Volleyball Tournament.

Indices

America

Europe

Africa

Asia

(n=96)

(n=95)

(n=36)

(n=60)

Stature(cm)

Body mass(kg)

Katoly index

182.1±7.5

70.1±7.6

384.8±36.2

184.4±7.7

70.1±6.0

379.9±25.2

177.6±4.8

69.4±6.2

390.6±31.1

180.1±7.6

68.5±5.9

380.2±22.7

Several other studies reported the mean age, height, and weight for selected groups of female volleyball players (Conger and Macnab, 1967, Gladden and Colacino, 1978, Hosler et al., 1978, Kovaleski et al., 1980). The first group was composed of 10 college women volleyball players (age 19.4 years, height 166 cm and weight 59.8 kg (Conger and Macnab, 1967). The second group was composed of 88 players who participated in a U.S. Volleyball Association National Tournament (21.9 years, 172.2 cm and 65.8 kg, respectively) (Gladden and Colacino, 1978). The third group comprised of 180 college players who participated in a major college tournament (19.5 years, 169.0 cm and 65.1 kg) (Hosler et al., 1978). The fourth comparative group was composed of 19 college players (19.9 years, 172.2 cm, and 64.1 kg) (Kovaleski et al., 1980). The U.S. training

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team was older (23-24 years), taller (177.8 cm), and heavier (67.2 kg) than any of the other four groups reported.

It is obvious that elite volleyball players have their specific anthropometric characteristics, such as stature, the length of arm, palm, fingers, and Achilles’ tendon, the girth of ankle, calf, thigh, forearm and upper arm. For example, the elite volleyball players in China usually have longer Achilles’ tendons and smaller ankle girth, and this contributes to a comparatively smaller value of the index “ankle girth/Achilles’ tendons×100”. The ankle girth/Achilles’ tendons index of volleyball male players were 92.8, male swimmers were 102.3 and male gymnasts were 105.7. The ankle girth/Achilles’ tendons index of volleyball female players was 95.8, female swimmers was 108.3 and female gymnasts was 101.2. Therefore the volleyball players had a longer Achilles’ tendon and smaller ankle girth than that of other athletes. Similarly, the average calf length index of the volleyball players is obviously longer than those of the swimmers. The average calf length index of the male volleyball players was 99.7, the swimmers were 90.3. The average calf length index of the female volleyball players was 100.5, the swimmers were 95.3. These anthropometric characteristics have been considered to be very important in talent identification of volleyball players (Zeng, 1992).

All these anthropometric characteristics would have an impact on their physical performance. Therefore a greater attention should be paid to the anthropometric characteristics of elite athletes and the relationship between the anthropometry characteristics and performance indicators. These may be helpful in identifying potential players with promising future, and making the training more effective.

The literature review revealed that, though most of the researchers had made detailed descriptions of the volleyball players’ basic anthropometric characteristics, their studies were mainly confined to a few typical indices, which are hardly possible to ensure a complete and systematic quantitative analysis. Instead, they were mainly qualitative.

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Based on the registration data in some international games, which may or may not be accurate, some scholars have used different analyses on the anthropometric characteristics of volleyball players from different countries, and have obtained some quantitative results. Most of these reports were just comparative analyses on the limited basic indices, such as stature, body mass, age and Katoly index. Nevertheless, few of them have involved the measurements, the comparisons, or the analyses on volleyball players’ length, breadth, girth and the proportional relationships following common measurement protocols such as those suggested by ISAK.

2.2.2.2 The stature of volleyball players Body height has been reported to be a discriminating factor between successful and

non-successful teams in a collegiate tournament (Morrow et al., 1979), correlating significantly with the final standings of an open national tournament (Gladden and Colacino, 1978). The intensive competition in modern volleyball games always focuses

on the dominance over the net. The most effective way to win the dominance over the

net is to recruit tall players therefore stature becomes an important index in the identification of potential volleyball players (Xing et al., 2006). It has been reported that the average height of the women volleyball players in the 27 th and 28 th Olympic Games was respectively 1.82 m and 1.83 m. While in the 29 th Olympic Games, the average height of players was 1.84 m. The stature in the top four teams holds the equal

average that is higher than other teams. It reflects the tendency of increased stature of

the elite world women volleyball players (Gao, 2006).

2.2.2.3 Body mass characteristics

Li (2004) investigated 36 players from three top teams in 2002 World Women’s

Volleyball Championship, including Italy, Russia and USA, and 12 players of the China Women’s Volleyball Team. It was concluded that the body mass of China Women’s Volleyball team members was significantly lighter and their Katoly index was significantly lower than that of the other teams (P<0.05. Table 2-4) (Li, 2004).

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Table 2-4 A comparison of four anthropometric indices between Chinese and Italian, Russian and USA women’s volleyball teams.

Indices

Top teams in the world

Team of China

Stature (cm) Body mass (kg) Katoly index Spiking height(cm)

186.2 7.67 74.1 6.33 39.8 2.79 308.1 9.47

183.8 5.06 71.9 4.29 39.1 1.94 315.8 7.91

2.2.2.4 Limb lengths The growth rate of arm length is slower than that of the body height, so the arm span of an infant is usually shorter than the height (He, 1992). Zeng (1992) reported that the average difference between arm span and stature in Chinese volleyball players was much smaller than that of the players in some other countries. For instance, the average arm span of Cuba women volleyball players was 13.4 cm more than the stature, while the average arm span of Chinese women volleyball players was only 5.4 cm longer than the stature (Zeng, 1992).

For the dominance over the volleyball net, Jin et al. (2007) emphasized the importance of standing reach height in the recruitment of players. Generally, standing reach height is well correlated to the body height. When vertical jump remaining the same, higher standing reach height always means higher spiking height and higher blocking height. Among young women volleyball players in China, the average standing reach height is 235.9 cm, and the utmost goes to 245 cm (Jin et al., 2007).

To a great extent, stature depends on the lower limbs length, and iliospinale height/ stature×100 is a commonly used index. The ratio of lower limb length to stature varies in different races. For example, the women volleyball players of Cuba and China shared almost same stature, but as for lower limb length, the average proportion of Cuba players was 58.5%, while that of the Chinese players was 55.2% (Zeng, 1992).

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The index of “(trochanterion height - calf length)/calf length×100” reflects the proportion between thigh length and calf length. There has been plenty of evident that if the value of the calf length plus the feet height is longer than the thigh length, the players will be propitious for the sport giving priority to jumping ability. For example, the average of the index “(trochanterion heightcalf length)/calf length×100” of the elite volleyball players is obviously smaller than those of the swimmers, and athletes in field and track events (Table 2-5) (Zeng, 1992).

Table 2-5 A comparison of “(trochanterion height - calf length)/calf length ×100”

Male

Female

Setters

100.5±2.43

100.7±3.93

Chief spikers

99.2±1.85

99.1±3.00

Second spikers

99.4±2.82

101.6±2.53

Gymnasts

99.5 ±2.62

99.9±3.17

Swimmers

90.3±2.49

95.3±2.30

Source: (Zeng, 1992)

The index of “Achilles’ tendon length/calf length ×100” is often used in talent identification. This index reflects not only the proportion of Achilles’ tendon to calf length, but also indirectly the backward pulling strength of the triceps. The Achilles’ tendon length of elite players is always longer than those of non-players. It has been found that elite volleyball players demonstrate a greater “Achilles’ tendon/calf length ×100” index than elite gymnasts (Table 2-6) (Zeng, 1992).

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Table 2-6 Average value of the index of “Achilles’ tendon/calf length ×100” in gymnasts and volleyball players (mean ± SD)

Sports

Male

Female

Gymnasts

45.4±3.74

47.8±4.07

Volleyball players

46.8±3.28

49.3±3.96

Source: (Zeng, 1992)

The Achilles’ tendon length of non-athletes are generally shorter than the ankle girth, and this makes the index “ankle girth/Achilles’ tendon ×100” larger than 100. However, the elite athletes usually have longer Achilles’ tendon that results in a comparatively smaller value of the index “ankle girth/Achilles’ tendon ×100”, in the events including volleyball, basketball, track events and high jump, etc. (Table 2-7) (Zeng, 1992)

Table 2-7 A comparison of the index “ankle girth/Achilles’ tendon×100” in different sports (mean ± SD)

Sports

Male

Female

Volleyball players

92.8±9.65

95.8±12.35

Gymnasts

105.7±1.74

101.2±9.76

Swimmers

102.3±1.68

108.3±1.36

Source: (Zeng, 1992)

The aforementioned reports emphasized the importance of upper limbs length in that it was essential for volleyball players to be able to learn and improve their skills. However, few follow up studies were found in relation to women volleyball players’ upper limbs length and performance, therefore further investigations are needed (Zeng,

1992).

It is widely accepted that stature is mainly determined by lower limbs length. The data shown in Tables 2-4 to 2-6 are some comparative analyses on lower limbs length, calf

41

length and Achilles’ tendon length. From these data it can be seen that women volleyball players have particular features on the lower limb lengths. For example, the indices for the ankle girths and Achilles’ tendon length in volleyball players are smaller than those of gymnasts and swimmers, which means women volleyball players have longer Achilles’ tendon. Does this reveal that Achilles’ tendon length is related to volleyball players’ jumping ability? Should we pay more attention to the anthropometric characteristics features of lower limbs in talent identification? This research intended to answer these questions.

2.3 Somatotype

This section presents the literature on somatotype, with its definition, classification, and evaluation. The Introduction will focus on the widely-used Heath-Carter method.

2.3.1 Introduction 2.3.1.1 Concept of somatotype The technique of somatotyping is used to examine anthropometric characteristics and body composition. The resulting somatotype gives a quantitative summary of the physique. It is defined as the quantification of the present shape and composition of the human body. It is presented in a three-number rating representing endomorhy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy components respectively, always in the same order (Norton and Olds, 1996).

In particular, along with the fast development of modern technology, the anthropometric technologies and methods have also had significant improvements. Besides the traditional manual measurements, there are high-tech photogrammetry, three-dimensional photography and laser scanning methods. Photogrammetry is to use optical technology to analyze human body digital photograph. According to the results of indirect measurements taken from the non-contact measurement method,

42

photogrammetry can obtain measurement data and derived indices (Ge and Liu, 2007).

In three-dimensional photography, two cameras at positions will photograph the human body simultaneously. The relationship between the two pictures of a same point on the surface of human body is analyzed and then through the principle of geometric optical triangulation, the three-dimensional coordinates of the imaged point will be figured out and be applied in the analyses of anthropometric characteristics. This approach is consistent with human visual characteristics, but is comparatively more difficult in the measurement of human body surface and the accuracy is not guaranteed (Li et al.,

2001).

In whole-body laser scanning methods, three-dimensional images are obtained through laser scanning triangulation. The entire scanning process is computerized and completion of a scan takes only a few seconds. The scanned images can be integrated to build up a complete human body model (Li et al., 2001).

Although the modern approaches, like three-dimensional photography and laser scanning, offer accurate ways for anthropometric measurements, the drawbacks are high cost and requirements of a high level of expertise. As a result, the traditional manual measurements are still widely applied for direct anthropometric measurements (Ge and Liu, 2007). Heath and Carter method is simple, accurate and inexpensive for assessment of somatotypes, therefore it is a frequently used method.

Heath and Carter (1999) defined somatotype as the current physical characteristics of the concerned individual and it is an explicit shape characteristic without the concern of the body size. The method was developed from Sheldon’s work and established a more objective method for somatotype classification. The Heath-Carter anthropometric somatotype method has been regarded as the most useful method for somatotype evaluation (Carter and Heath, 1990).

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2.3.1.2 The Heath-Carter anthropometric somatotyping method The Heath-Carter anthropometric somatotyping method uses taxonomy of somatotype created by American scholars B. H. Heath and J. E. L. Cater in 1967. It utilizes multiple regression analysis of somatotype composition so that the problem of subjectivity is overcome, and it also gives an unequivocal scientific definition of somatotype. It is important to recognize that the somatotype is a general descriptor of physique and does not answer more precise questions regarding specific body dimensions. The Heath-Carter method of somatotyping is the most commonly used today (Liang and Nie, 2001, Norton and Olds, 1996, Zhu et al., 1998).

For implementation of this method, 10 anthropometric measurements are used. These include standing height, body weight, four skinfolds (triceps, subscapular, suprailiac, and medial calf), two breadths (biepicondylar femur breadth, biepicondylar humerus breadth) and two girths (upper arm girth in flexed and tensed and calf girth) (Carter,

1980).

The technique of somatotyping is used to appraise anthropometric characteristics and composition. The somatotype of a human body can be categorized into three types, endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy. Endomorphy represents the relative content of body fat, mesomorphy represents the relative level of musculo-skeletal development, and ectomorphy represents the relative level of slenderness and thinness (Norton and Olds, 1996).

Through anthropometric measurements and calculation, the Heath-Carter method uses three numbers, that are separated by hyphens, to represent the extent of anthropometric characteristics in endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy, respectively (Jiang et al., 2007, Norton and Olds, 1996).

While the first attempt at classifying human bodies is attributed to Hippocrates and his contemporaries, a systematic approach did not emerge until the twentieth century. Of

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these pioneering research efforts, W.H. Sheldon (1940) described a genotypic classification seeking relationships between human physique and personality that remains the best known and most controversial (Sheldon et al., 1940). His tri-polar somatotype was later revised by Heath and Carter in the 1960’s into a phenotypic method based on calculations made from 10 anthropometric measurements. The Heath and Carter method is still in use today and is one of the most commonly applied techniques in somatotyping and related areas (Carter and Heath, 1990, Heath and Carter, 1967).

There are three ways to calculate the Heath-Carter anthropometric somatotype:1) enter the data onto a somatotype rating form; 2) enter the data into equations derived from the rating form; or 3) enter the data into a computer programs such as Life-size (Norton and Olds, 1996).

The somatotype is divided into sectors by three axes which intersect at the center of the “triangle”. These sectors and the somatotypes in them are named according to the relative rank or dominance of the components of the somatotype. In the order of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy, a somatotype is described by three numbers. The dominance of a component is ranked from zero (minimum) to theoretically indefinite, with four as neutral. For example, 4-4-4 is a perfect central; 3-5-2 is called an endo-mesomorph because mesomorph is dominant, with endomorph second in dominance. A 1-6-3 is called an ecto-mesomorph, a 2-3-5 a meso-ectomorph, a 2-4-4 an ectomorph-mesomorph, and a 2-5-2 a balanced mesomorph, and so on (Carter, 1970).

Heath-Carter somatotyping method can be divided into 13 categories and this is based on areas of the somatochart, see Table 2-8.

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Table

2-8

Categorization

measurement

of

somatotype

methods

based

on

Heath-Carter

Central No component differs by more than one unit from the other two, and consists of 2,3 or 4 Ectomorphic endomorph Endomorphy is dominant and ectomorphy is greater than mesomorphy Balanced endomorph Endomorphy is dominant and mesomorphy and Ectomorphy are equal (do not differ by more than one-half unit)

Endomorphy is dominant and mesomorphy is greater

than ectomorphy Mesomorph-endomorph Endomorphy and mesomorphy are equal (do not

differ by more than one-half unit), and ectomorphy is smaller Mesomorphy is dominant and endomorphy is greater

than endomorphy Balanced mesomorph Mesomorphy is dominant and mesomorph and ectomorph are equal (do not differ by more than one-half unit)

Ectomorphic mesomorph

Mesomorphy is dominant and ectomorph is greater than endomorphy Mesomorph and ectomorph are equal (do not differ by more than one-half unit) and endomorphy is lower

Mesomorphic endomorph

Endomorphic mesomorph

Mesomorph-ectomorph

Mesomorphic ectomorph

Ectomorphy is dominant and mesomorphy is greater

than endomorphy Balanced ectomorph Ectomorphy is dominant; endmorphy and mesomorphy are equal and lower (or do not differ by more than one-half unit)

Ectomorphy is dominant, and endomorphy is greater

than mesomorphy Endomorph-ectomorph Endomorphy and ectomorphy are equal ( or do not differ by more than one-half unit), and mesomorphy is lower

Endomorphic ectomorph

(Carter and Heath, 1990, Heath and Carter, 1967, Norton and Olds, 1996)

The 13 categories can be further grouped into four larger categories:

Central: no component differs by more than one unit from the other two.

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Endomorph: endomorphy is dominant, mesomorphy and ectomorphy are more than one-half unit lower. Mesomorph: mesomorphy is dominant, endomorphy and ectomorphy are more than one-half unit lower. Ectomorph: Ectomorphy is dominant, endomorphy and mesomorphy are more than one-half unit lower ( Carter and Heath, 1990, Heath and Carter, 1967, Norton and Olds,

1996).

2.3.2 Implications of somatotyping 2.3.2.1 Somatotype of general population The study of somatotype aims to evaluate the different human anthropometric characteristics (Ye, 1995). Because the conditions of muscles and bones and the content of body fat are the keys to determine somatotype, so anthropology, medicine and nutrition are always related with the research on somatotype. The somatotype changes with sex, age, race, living environment, and the nutritional status. Research on the somatotype in ordinary people is aimed to understand what factors may affect anthropometric characteristics in relation to health, nutrition, ageing and other aspects of life.

The purpose of the investigation on athletes’ somatotype is to offer reference for talent identification, which aims to identify and forecast the developing tendency of the athelets’ stature, body mass, body fat, muscles and bones in different growth stages, and to understand the specific anthropometric characteristics for different sports. Such information would be essential to set the criteria for the recruitment of players as well as for the improvements of players’ competence.

The literature presented below summarizes the somatotypes of the people with different sex, age, race and living environment that contributes to our understanding of the somatotypes of athletes in different sports including volleyball. The previous studies have also provided reference data for comparison of somatotypes in women

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volleyball players from different countries.

2.3.2.2 Somatotypes of athletes

Somatotypes of athletes in different sports Plenty of evidence supports that the ideal somatotype for athletes varies as a function of the sport or event (Carter and Heath, 1990, Duquet and Carter, 1996). Although ideal body size and shape are not the only elements necessary for an athlete to excel, they may represent important prerequisites for successful performance in a sport. Indeed, it can be assumed that a player’s anthropometric characteristics can in some way influence his/her level of performance, and at the same time can help to determine

a suitable physique for a certain sport. Therefore, somatotype analysis can provide a

descriptive picture of the anthropometric characteristics of the high-level players. In this sense, the somatotyping method is believed to yield better results than simple linear anthropometric measurement (Rienzi et al., 1999), since it combines adiposity, musculo-skeletal robustness and linearity into a somatotype rating (Gualdi-Russo and Zaccagni, 2001b).

Neni et al. (2007) reported the somatotypes of adult Indonesian, in particular of male athletes in a number of sports. The athletes were from badminton, soccer, and

volleyball, aged in their 20’s. Non-athlete undergraduate students were also studied as

a control group. The following findings were obtained: the mean somatotype of the

badminton players was ‘central’ (3.3-3.7-3.7), that of the soccer players was ‘balanced

mesomorph’ (2.7-4.9-3.0), that of the volleyball players was ‘mesomorph-ectomorph’ (2.4-3.5-3.7), and that of the students were ‘ectomorphic mesomorph’ (2.7-5.2-3.8). Compared with international data, the Indonesian players were shorter and lighter in each of the sports. The mean somatotype of the Indonesian badminton players was ‘central’, contrasting with the more mesomorphic South Australian players. The somatotypes of the international volleyball groups were divided into ‘mesomorphic ectomorph’ and ‘ectomorphic mesomorph’. The Indonesian volleyball players belong to the latter group (Neni et al., 2007).

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Athletes of a specific sport event may be characterized by a particular somatotype. The literature has shown that high-level female volleyball players have a common somatotype, mesomorphy. This indicates that the top-level female volleyball players have more muscles and less adipose tissue (Papdopoulou et al., 2002. See Table2-9).

Table 2-9

Results of female volleyball players somototype

 

Items

Total

National

Major A1

Major A2

National

P

 

team

league

Endomorphy

4.48±1.19

4.25±1.09

4.36±1.16

4.48±1.22

4.64±1.22

0.449

Mesomorphy

2.49±1.20

2.22±1.11

2.19±1.23

2.81±1.21

2.57±1.11

0.016

Ectomorphy

2.14±0.96

2.22±0.99

2.39±0.94

1.95±0.89

2.03±1.00

0.045

It was found that Polish athletes from a population of students (age 19-21) demonstrated a somatotype of 3.5-4.3-3.0 which was close to the “median build”. The somatotype of rowers (2.9-4.3-2.9) was similar to that of students. Light weight rowers and volleyball players were more slender as their ectomorphy exceeded the mesomorphy. Wrestlers, judoiosts and karate players were solid build, with a high score of mesomorphy and a very low score of ectomorphy. Boxers were in the middle. It should be emphasized that the within-group variability of individual factors was relatively low, smaller than that in the control group (Krawczyk et al., 1997).

Guo (2001) investigated 45 male teenage sprint athletes in Gansu province. The results showed that the average somatoype value of those elite athletes was “1.2-3.92-3.65”. Guo claimed that every sport event had its own ideal somatotype, or “favorite somatotype” and this determined the significance of somatotype indices in talent identification. Guo had also found that most of the coaches interviewed in his research had referred to practical anthropometric results (Guo, 2001).

Zeng (1985) had investigated the somatotype value of 103 Chinese athletes in track

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and field, swimming, weight lifting and gymnastics. He found that the elite gymnasts’ somatotype scores were “1.3-6.2-2.4”, and the athletes with better performance were always with a larger mesomorphy value. The weight lifting athlete had very large mesomorphy value, and the heavier the body mass, the larger the mesomorphy value. As for the jumpers, better performance always associated with larger ectomorphy value. The author suggested that it was significant to investigate whether the somatotype condition of a teenage athlete would alter with years of training and growth that would be close to the “favorite somatotype” (Zeng et al., 1985).

Deng and colleagues (1999) had made an investigation on the somatotypes of 119 water ballet athletes in the national water ballet championship and found that their average somatotype value was “3.14-2.45-3.74”. It was revealed that the athletes with larger mesomorphy value would have better performance. It was also found that the somatotype of elite water ballet athletes tend to suggest an “optimal somatotype” and this meant that somatotype could be used as a reference in talents identification (Deng et al., 1999).

Gao and associates (2001) had measured the somatotypes of the top athletes of different classes in the national kickboxing tournament in 1977 (a total of 30 athletes). The average somatotype values of elite Chinese kickboxing athletes were “2.12-4.41-3.18”. It was revealed that the athletes’ somatotype changed from mesomorphic- ectomorph to mesomorphy with the increase of body mass. The authors concluded that the somatotypes of the kickboxing athletes were similar, and this would offer theoretical basis for future talents identification (Gao et al., 2001).

Somatotype of volleyball players The somatotypes of volleyball players differ according to their positions and levels of performance (e.g., state, national) and depending on the technical and tactical demands placed on the players. Among the junior volleyball players of the UK, setters exhibited higher ectomorphic and lower mesomorphic scores than the centers. The mean (SD)

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somatotype scores for setters and centers were 2.6(0.9)–1.9(1.1)–5.3(1.2) and 2.2(0.8)–3.9(1.1)–3.6(0.7) respectively (Duncan et al., 2006). Italian male volleyball players had somatotype scores of 2.4(0.7)–4.5(0.9)–2.8(0.8) for setters, 2.0(0.6)–4.0(1.0)–3.5(0.8) for centers, 2.2(0.6)–4.3(0.9)–3.0(0.7) for spikers and 2.2(0.6)–4.3(0.9)–3.1(0.8) for opposites (Duncan et al., 2006, Gualdi-Russo and Zaccagni, 2001a).

Many studies have suggested that differences exist in somatotypes between various sports, and at different performance levels (from professional Olympic players to amateurs), for example for volleyball (Papadopoulou et al., 2002; Viviani and Baldin, 1993) and handball players (Carter, 1981b, Eiben, 1981). However, few of them have examined the whole spectrum of morphological characteristics within each sport (Bayios et al., 2006). In addition, there has not been enough information about the players’ somatotypes and their roles in games in the literature, especially about volleyball players. From the information available to us, the mean somatotypes of non elite Chinese women volleyball players were compared with those of Italian female amateur players (4.7-3.9-2.3) (Viviani and Baldin, 1993). There was a higher value in endomorphic and mesomorphic components and a lower value in ectomorphy in the Chinese volleyball players as compared to the amateur Italian players (Gualdi-Russo and Zaccagni, 2001b).

Bayios et al. (2006) discovered that in both the varsity and the junior varsity groups, endomorphy was the dominant somatotype, and mesomorphy value was greater than ectomorphy. Thus, the groups of varsity and junior varsity women volleyball players were characterized as mesomorphic endomorphs. The mean somatotype for the groups of varsity and junior varsity was 4.2-3.7-3.3 (endomorphic-mesomorphic-ectomorphic) (Bayios et al., 2006. Table 2-10).

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Table

2-10

Somatotypes

of

ten

varsity

intercollegiate volleyball players

and

nine

junior

varsity

women

Items

Endomorphic*

Mesomorphic

Ectomorphic

Varsity

3.65±0.84

3.45±0.82

3.20±0.93

Junior Varsity

4.50±0.78

4.27±1.00

2.61±0.61

Combined

4.20±1.10

3.67±1.22

3.25±1.65

*Based on a scale of 12 for endomorphy and 9 for ectomorphy and mesomorphy, P< 0.05 between varsity and junior varsity.

Although the mesomorphy used to be the primary component of competitive female volleyball players’ somatotype in the last two decades, recent studies indicated a trend toward ectomorphy (Malousarisa et al., 2008).

It is well known that the lack of appropriate anthropometric characteristics might result in poor performance in top-level volleyball. Although some of these characteristics can be improved through training, the basic ones required for the sport of volleyball may be essentially inherited. These basic anthropometric features include body height and appendage lengths. It is of paramount importance for coaches to understand the significance of taking into account these basic body characteristics for initial selection of young players. Inappropriate initial selection of young female players without considering anthropometric features could become an obstacle for future developments for becoming top-level players (Papadopoulou, 2002).

In sport research, one of the main criteria used to assess the relationships between function and structure is the performance level. For somatotype, for example, it is well established that, within a particular sport activity, physique varies according to the performance level. The higher the level, the higher the tendency to conform the body characteristics (Carter and Heath, 1990, Carter, 1980).

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In the literature specific to volleyball it is found that female volleyball players’ somatotype exhibit diachronic variations: they could be reasonably ascribed both to changes in athletic selection which have occurred in the last decades, and to wide-spread and generalized culturally-determined tendency towards a lower degree of endomorphism for women (Viviani and Baldin, 1993).

In another report, volleyball players were the tallest and had the lowest value of body fat compared with basketball and handball, and were characterized as balanced endomorph (3.4-2.7-2.9). It was because that volleyball players showed higher homogeneity in somatotype, most probably reflecting the stricter selection process and the higher “professionalism” of these athletes who exerted greater effort in keeping up with the suggested instructions regarding training and diet (Bayios et al., 2006).

In summary, the current research on the somatotype is mainly based on the Heath-Carter method. However, in China, most of the somatotype research has focused on general public rather than on athletes in specific sports, even less on volleyball players. So far, no literature has been found on Chinese women volleyball players’ somatotype.

The literature suggests that men’s somatotype changes with growth periods, nutrition conditions and physical exercises. In addition, there are great differences between somatotypes of athletes and non-athletes. Evidence shows that athletes are lower in endomorphy, but higher in mesomorphy, indicating that athletes have comparatively lower body fat content but stronger muscles and bones. It has been an interesting question that whether elite athletes in particular sports possess unique anthropometric characteristics and anthropometrical characteristics. It has been repeatedly stressed that the height over the net is a key factor in volleyball. However, height might not be the only factor to be considered in selection of talented players, but what other anthropometric parameters need to be included requires further study. For instance, previous studies have shown that volleyball players have a

53

somatotype with dominance in mesomorphy, which means they are tall and muscular. However, recent finding indicates that they are trend toward ectomorphy. In addition, little is known for the anthropometric and somatotype characteristics of volleyball players at different playing positions.

2.3.3 Summary Based on the literature review in the area of anthropometry and physical performance, the following are summarised.

It has been an interesting question that whether elite athletes in particular sports posses unique body shape and anthropometrical characteristics. It is evident that the volleyball players are tall, and their somatotype appears to be different to some other sports such as football, basketball and handball. It has been repeatedly suggested that the height over the net is a key factor in volleyball. However, the height might not be the only factor to be considered in selection of talented players. What other anthropometric parameters needs to be included requires further studies. For instance, early studies have shown that volleyball players have a somatotype with a dominance in mesomorphy, that means they are generally tall and muscular. However, recent finding indicates that they lean more toward ectomorphy. In addition, little is known for the anthropometric and somatotype characteristics of players at different positions in volleyball.

It is known that the physique and physical performance are among the essential factors for elite performance in many sport events. However, there is a paucity of information about the physique and its relationship with performance in volleyball. Chinese women’s volleyball teams have demonstrated a high level of achievements. However, there have been no published reports on the anthropometric characteristics of Chinese elite female volleyball players. In addition, the description of volleyball players’ physique is lack of the specific and quantitative standard.

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2.4 Physical performance This section mainly introduces volleyball players’ physical performance in two areas: 1) physical performance and the sport; 2) physical performance and positions. The former focuses on the differences between volleyball and other sports. The latter focuses on the specific physical performance of players on different playing positions.

2.4.1 Physical performance and sport Athletic competence refers to the integrated physical performance necessary for techniques and tactics enhancement and excellence in all kinds of physical exercises. The integrated physical performance involves anthropometric characteristics, physiological function, health and physical performance, among which physical performance is the most important athletic competence, while anthropometric characteristics, physiological function and health form a good basis for an ideal physical performance (Guo, 1999).

Physical performance can be defined as human body competence in strength, speed, endurance, agility and flexibility in playing sport. The performance is related not only with anatomical and physiological characteristics, but also with training level and nutritional condition. Physical performance is a basis of mastering and the improving sports skills and achievements (Ye, 1995). Physical performance is virtually an integration of various body activity abilities for playing sport. The evaluation of physical performance involves a variety of aspects which can be mainly divided into general physical performance and specific physical performance (Yuan, 1982). In physical performance assessment, specific equipment or apparatus are needed and environmental conditions are also considered (Yuan, 1982).

Physical performance forms the basis of sport skills. The improvement of sport-specific physical performance depends not only on the level of coaching, but also on the talent of the players. Liu (2006) pointed out that, as a criterion for physical

55

conditioning and sport competence, physical performance on one hand relates with the muscle efficiency, and on the other hand reflects the function of various organ systems (Liu, 2006).

Strength refers to the physical ability of muscle system in overcoming resistance. Muscle strength is the power source for a variety of actions. There are many factors may influence the strength, such as anthropometric characteristics and heredity (the size of muscle and the proportion of fast and slow muscle fibers), neural control and motor skills (Zhang, 2006).

Speed is the body competence in fast movements. According to different contexts, it can be divided into reacting speed, acting speed and moving speed, which are all influenced by the process of nerve excitability, muscle flexibility, muscle relaxation and biochemical factors (Tian, 2006). Endurance refers to the capacity of retaining performance quality in particular duration. The performance of endurance attributes to the central nervous system function, maximum oxygen uptake and the body's energy reserves and utilization.

In several ballgames, skills, anthropometric characteristics and physical performance of an individual player are the most important factors that contribute to the competitive success of a whole team. With respect to the physical performance the endurance requirements of volleyball and basketball seem to be rather similar (Hakkinen, 1989, Viitasalo et al., 1987). However, volleyball belongs to aerobic sport with a high alactic anaerobic power productions which need a fairly long recovery periods (Viitasalo et al., 1987), therefore differs from the anaerobic lactic metabolic requirements of basketball (Hakkinen, 1989).

Well-developed physical performance is essential for volleyball sport. Strength in extending shoulders and elbows extension and flexion and in gripping hands is favorable for spiking, serving and setting in the game. Strength in knee extension is

56

critical to jumping. Swift reaction with high frequency and high vertical jump ensures strong explosive force and absolute force (Pu et al., 1989).

2.4.1.1 Importance of physical performance in volleyball

Physical performance is essential in building up the specific competence of both men

and women volleyball players. Volleyball is an intermittent sport that requires players

to compete in frequent short bouts of high-intensity exercise, followed by periods of

low-intensity activity (Kuenstlinger et al., 1987, Viitasalo et al., 1987). The high-intensity bouts of exercise, with the total duration of the match around 90 minutes, requires players to have well-developed aerobic and anaerobic alactic (ATP-CP) energy systems (Hakkinen, 1993, Viitasalo et al., 1987). Considerable demands are also placed on the neuromuscular system during the various sprints, jumps (blocking and spiking), and high-intensity movement that occurs repeatedly during competition (Hakkinen, 1993). As a result, volleyball players require well-developed speed, agility, upper-body and lower-body muscular power, and maximal aerobic power (VO 2 max) (Gabbett and Georgieff, 2006).

Hertogh and Hue (2002) suggest that power output is an essential component of success in many sports. For volleyball players, exercises aimed at increasing strength are advocated to improve power output and thus maximal jump height (Hertogh and Hue, 2002). Stamm (2003) suggested that it is essential for a successful volleyball player to possess greater speed and endurance, arms and upper body strength, and flexibility (Stamm et al., 2003).

2.4.1.2 Constitution of volleyball players’ physical performance

A variety of physical performance may reinforce or restrict one another. For example,

jumping ability is a specific physical performance for volleyball players. However, it

should be complemented by other physical performance including speed, agility, and flexibility, etc. (You, 1985).

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In many experts' opinion volleyball should be considered as a power sport (Stech and Smulsky, 2007). High performance of elite volleyball players is mostly dependent on the efficacy of jump actions, in particular, the explosive power of the lower extremity muscles (Harman et al., 1991). Vertical jump is one of the significant indicators of power (speed-force) (Young, 1995, Young et al., 1999a, Young et al., 1999b).

Pu et al. (1989) has suggested that physical performance requirements for volleyball include high levels of strength in shoulder, elbow and hands, which will be favorable for spiking, serving and saving ball; strength in knee extension, which will be favorable of jumping; and quick reaction time (Pu et al., 1989).

In conclusion, physical performances such as, strength, speed, agility and jumping ability are all very important to volleyball players. This is because they need to change their playing positions in turn (except for liberos). In a volleyball game, all players must be able to attack and block in the front line, and defend and serve in the back line. It requires the players to have all-round physical performance.

2.4.1.3 Physical performance measurements for volleyball players Numerous methods have been used to test volleyball players’ physical fitness in different countries. Some examples as found in the literature are listed below. The objectives of these tests were to assess athletes.

The anthropometric variables of the United States Women’s National Volleyball Training Team includes age (years), weight (kg), height (cm) and reach (cm). The four motor ability tests were taken from a motor performance battery developed by Disch et al. (Disch et al., 1977). The four tests included vertical jump, triple hop, agility run, and 20-yard dash (Spence et al., 1980).

Huang et al. (1985) utilized 10 measurement items to assess the physical performance

58

of juvenile volleyball players, including 100 metre and 60 metre sprints; running vertical jump with two feet, running vertical jump with one foot, and standing three-step forward jump; badminton shuttlecock throwing; sit-ups; 800 metre and 1500 metre races; and touching depth when bending down forward for flexibility. There was also a combined test of moving along the net and then jumping to block (3 metres×5 times). The above items involved almost all the main required physical performance for volleyball players, and were theoretically supported, therefore, adopted by most of the coaches (Huang et al., 1985).

Gabbett and Georgieff (2007) measured physical performance to junior national, state, and novice volleyball players. The measurements included height, standing reach height, skinfold thickness, lower-body muscular power, agility, and estimated maximal aerobic power (Gabbett and Georgieff, 2007). Stamm (2003) administered physical performance tests to female volleyball players, including jumping ability, maximum aerobic endurance, trunk strength, speed, upper body and arms strength tests (Stamm et al., 2003).

Yuan (1982) adopted different methods to determine the physical performance for talent identification. The methods included tests for reaction and speed: to start, move, run and stop after seeing or hearing the given signals; for agility and flexibility: to stand up from lying position (four directions), run through hurdles, jump over elastic band, and finally move under the net; and combined abilities: to run after hearing the given signal, “Z” running, middle distance race, vertical jump, and medicine ball etc. (Yuan, 1982).

Japanese Volleyball Association has stipulated the following testing items for volleyball players’ fitness competence: for muscle strength: grip force, pull-ups, basketball throw, back force, sit-ups, vertical jump, standing three-step jump; for agility: 9-metre double trip, 20-metre race, rolling race; for stamina: 800-metre race, steps jump (50cm height for men, 40cm height for women); for flexibility: forward

59

stoop, backward bend; and for body control: handstand (Zhong and Huang, 1989).

In the evaluation of the specific athletic competence for volleyball, Zhang (1996) designed eight t