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In the last post (see here: ), a general overview of the game of basketball was provided. From a strength and conditioning standpoint, it’s important to understand that basketball has a number of different positions and different kinds of athletes are going to be successful in each position.

A number of studies have looked at male basketball players from a variety of settings and playing levels (Division I, national team members, Euroleague, etc.). The results of these studies appear in the table below. I recognize that there are shooting guards, point guards, small forwards, and power forwards and that these are all lumped together below. Some studies distinguish between these positions, but others don’t. In the interest of comparing apples to apples, they have been lumped together in the table below.

Characteristic Guards Forwards Centers
Age 23 22 22
Height (cm) 191 196 203
Weight (kg) 87 90 99
% Body Fat 9.7 9.8 13
Vertical Jump (cm) 61 59 52
Bench Press/Body Weight 1.05 .98 .98
Power Clean/ Body Weight 1.14 1.11 .98
Squat/Body Weight 2.01 1.91 1.7
T Test (sec) 9.3 9.7 9.9
5 meter sprint .99 1.14 1.17
10 meter sprint 1.86 1.97 2
30 meter sprint 4.14 4.16 4.32

(adapted from Abdelkrim et al 2009, Abdelkrim et al 2010, Latin et al 1994, Ostojic et al 2006, Sallet et al 2005).

A few things to keep in mind about the above table. First, this table shows averages of an amalgamation of male basketball player data. Second, note the average ages of the players. Third, much of this is from European/North African national-level basketball players. The combination of all these things shows extremely interesting trends, but you should be cautious about using the above information as standards for player evaluation.

The table does provide some interesting information. Guards tend to be lighter and more athletic than the other positions. Their relative strength is greater, vertical jump is higher, and they are faster and more agile than the other positions. Centers tend to be the tallest and heaviest athletes with the highest body fat and the lowest relative strength (though their absolute strength is greater than the other positions). They also tend to be slower and have a lower vertical jump than the other positions. Forwards fall in between.

The specifics of this information (i.e. what values are ideal for each characteristic?) is going to vary depending upon age, level of ability, setting, etc. However, the trends are extremely important for an athlete and for a coach. An athlete that is taller, heavier, and slower may not make a good guard but may make a good forward or center. A smaller, faster, more agile athlete with a greater vertical jump may be more effective as a guard. Etc.

These same trends hold true of female athletes. The table below shows an amalgamation of research articles looking at primarily collegiate female basketball players. Notice that the same trends hold true:

Characteristic Guards Forwards Centers
Age 25 26 26
Height (cm) 170 177 184
Weight (kg) 62 70 78
Body Fat (%) 17 19 23
Vertical Jump (cm) 47 46 42
20 meter sprint (seconds) 3.37 3.53 3.59
T-Test (seconds) 10.05 10.5 10.7
Suicide Run (seconds) 30 32 32

(adapted from Delextrat and Cohen 2009, LaMonte et al 1999).

Abdelkrim, N.B., Castagna, C., Fazaa, S.E., Tabka, Z., and Ati, J.E. Blood metabolites during basketball competitions. J Strength Cond Re 23(3): 765-773, 2009.

Abdelkrim, N.B., Chaouachi, A., Chamari, K., Chtara, M., and Castagna, C. Positional role and competitive-level differences in elite-level men’s basketball players. J Strength Cond Re 24(5): 1346-1355, 2010.

Delextrat, A. and Cohen, D. Strength, power, speed, and agility of women’s basketball players according to playing position. J Strength Cond Re 23(7): 1974-1981, 2009.

LaMonte, M.J., McKinney, J.T., Quinn, S.M., Bainbridge, C.N., and Eisenman, P.A. Comparison of physical and physiological variables for female college basketball players. J Strength Cond Re 13(3): 264-270, 1999.

Latin, R.W., Berg, K., and Baechle, T. Physical and performance characteristics of NCAA Division I male basketball players. J Strength Cond Re 8(4): 214-218, 1994.

Ostojic, S.M., Mazic, S., and Dikic, N. Profiling in basketball: Physical and physiological characteristics of elite players. J Strength Cond Re 20(4): 740-744, 2006.

Sallet, P., Perrier, D., Ferret, J.M., Vitelli, V., and Baverel, G. Physiological differences in professional basketball players as a function of playing position and level of play. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 45(3): 291-294, 2005.


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