Physical attributes, physiological characteristics, on-court performances and nutritional strategies of female and male basketball players

Sports Med. 2009;39(7):547-68. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200939070-00003.


This article reviews a series of studies (n = 51) examining physical attributes, physiological characteristics, on-court performances and nutritional strategies of female and male elite basketball players. These studies included relevant information on physical and physiological variables, such as height, weight, somatotype, relative size, aerobic profile, strength, anaerobic power, agility and speed. Six main findings emerged from our review: (i) differences in physical attributes exist among playing positions and skill levels (e.g. guards tend to be lighter, shorter and more mesomorphic than centres); (ii) maximum aerobic capacity (VO(2max)) values of female and male players are 44.0-54.0 and 50-60 mLO(2)/kg/min, respectively; (iii) male and female players of higher skill levels tend to have higher vertical jump values; (iv) the more skilled female and male players are faster and more agile than the less skilled players; (v) guards tend to perform more high-intensity movements during game play compared with forwards and centres; and (vi) a water deficit of 2% of bodyweight can lead to reduced physical and mental performance during an actual game. Five limitations associated with the testing protocols used in the studies are outlined, among them the lack of a longitudinal approach, lack of tests performed under physical exertion conditions, and lack of studies using a time-motion analysis. In addition, three practical recommendations for the basketball coach and the strength and conditioning coach are presented. It is concluded that the data emerging from these studies, combined with the knowledge already obtained from the studies on physical and physiological characteristics of elite basketball players, should be applied by basketball and strength and conditioning coaches when planning training programmes for elite basketball players.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basketball / physiology*
  • Dehydration / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Fitness
  • Time and Motion Studies


  • Lactic Acid