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An Analysis of Playing Positions in Elite Men's Volleyball: Considerations for Competition Demands and Physiologic Characteristics

Sheppard, Jeremy M1,2,3; Gabbett, Tim J4; Stanganelli, Luiz-Claudio Reeberg5

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: September 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 6 - pp 1858-1866
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b45c6a
Original Research

Sheppard, JM Gabbett, TJ, and Reeberg Stanganelli, L-C. An analysis of playing positions in elite men's volleyball: considerations for competition demands and physiologic qualities. J Strength Cond Res 23(6): 1858-1866, 2009-The purpose of this study was to investigate the physiologic demands, physiologic characteristics, and jumping ability of different playing positions in elite male volleyball players. The first investigation involved an analysis of 16 international men's volleyball matches. The second investigation involved an analysis of the anthropometric and jump performance characteristics of 142 Development National Team (DNT) and Senior National Team (SNT) international volleyball players. Mean (±SD) frequency of block jumps for Middles (11.00 ± 3.14) was significantly greater than for Setters (6.25 ± 2.87, p < 0.001) and Outsides (6.50 ± 3.16, p < 0.001). Attack jumps were performed more frequently by Middles (7.75 ± 1.88), and this was found to be significantly more than for Setters (0.38 ± 1.06, p < 0.001) and Outsides (5.75 ± 3.25, p < 0.01). Middles were taller than Outsides and Setters (p < 0.001). Consequently, Middles had a significantly higher reach and greater body mass than Outsides (p < 0.001, p < 0.003) and Setters (p < 0.001, p < 0.001). Both Middles and Outsides had superior countermovement vertical jump (CMVJ) and spike jump (SPJ) scores compared with Setters (p < 0.001). Position-specific comparisons between DNT players and SNT players demonstrated that the SNT players were superior in relative CMVJ and SPJ scores (p < 0.05), with a large magnitude of effect (d > 0.99). The results of this study highlight the large jumping and landing demands placed on the taller and heavier players in the middle position. In addition to establishing the magnitude of difference in jumping ability between junior and senior national team players, the results also provide a comprehensive data set that may assist with talent identification and talent development for aspiring male volleyball players.

1Queensland Academy of Sport, Nathan, Australia; 2Australian Volleyball Federation, Canberra, Australia; 3School of Exercise, Biomedical, Health, and Exercise Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia; 4Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club, Brisbane, Australia; and 5State University of Londrina, Londrina, Brazil

Address correspondence to Jeremy M. Sheppard,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association