Comparison of body composition variables across a large sample of NCAA women athletes from six competitive sports

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Body composition (BC) plays a critical role in sport performance and athlete health. Body size and BC have been widely studied in men’s sports, with reported changes observed over time. However, a paucity of current data exists in women athletes. The purpose of the current descriptive study was to measure and compare BC data for collegiate women athletes from six competitive sports. A total of 524 athletes from two NCAA institutions participated: basketball (BB; n = 95), gymnastics (GYM; n = 42), lacrosse (LAX; n = 81), rowing (ROW; n = 57), soccer (SOC; n = 188), and volleyball (VB; n = 61). Height (BH) and body mass (BM) were measured using a stadiometer and calibrated digital scale, respectively. Body fat percentage (BF%), fat mass (FM), and fat free mass (FFM) were assessed using air displacement plethysmography. One-way ANOVA was used to assess differences across sports. Least Squares Difference (LSD) post hoc analyses were performed when a significant finding (p ≤ 0.05) was identified. ROW had the highest BF% (29.9±6.1%), and BB the greatest FFM (57.2±6.1 kg). GYM had the lowest BM (58.9±5.3 kg), FM (11.6±2.6 kg), and BH (158.73 ± 2.13 cm). LAX, SOC, and VB had similar BF%. BH was greatest for BB and VB (177.92 ± 7.55 cm, 176.79 ± 7.36 cm, respectively). These data may assist in the establishment of descriptive values for use in goal setting and exercise programming. The current data demonstrate a trend toward increased body size and BC from previous research.

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