2012, pp 1837-1856

Fitness and Anthropometric Testing in Basketball Players

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Abstract

In intermittent high-intensity team sports such as basketball, there is a clear relationship between a player’s body size and fitness and their success in competition. If this relationship is cause-effect is unknown, however. Before cause-effect can be determined there must be several methodological changes made to so-called “field testing” of athletes. Primarily, research implying the importance of body size and fitness to athletes is heavily reliant on individual test results from small (<100) numbers of players being correlated with measures of athlete success. No research has investigated how changes in an athlete’s fitness relate to changes in game statistics; if an improvement in a player’s size or fitness improves performance. In order to perform large-scale, long-term or meta-analyses research basketball must also agree to a standardised battery of tests with consistent protocols. Basketball research is impeded from progress by most data collection facilities using different variations on tests, thereby meaning test results cannot be compared across facilities. Standardising, for example, which vertical jump protocol is being used would contribute greatly to the academic integrity and use of field-test research. Most basketball research fails to report the reliability of any of its tests and is overly dependent on null-hypothesis significance testing rather than making magnitude-based inferences from effect sizes and confidence limits; while research involving small subject numbers can be useful, testing “statistical significance” is not appropriate and alternative methods of data analysis should be sought. In summary, to improve the quality of research investigating basketball fitness and anthropometry we must collect data over the long term using consistent testing methods and analysing it appropriately. While there are many other components that contribute to a player’s success besides fitness, a player’s size and fitness afford them the ability to capitalise on opportunities presented to them on the court, in skills development, and in the scouting process.