Establishing reference BIVA data for footballers who play in different professional divisions

  • Written by  ML Micheli, L Pagani, M Marella, M Gulisano, A Piccoli, F Angelini, M Burtscher and H Gatterer

Bioimpedance and impedance vector patterns as predictors of league level in male soccer players”
ML Micheli, L Pagani, M Marella, M Gulisano, A Piccoli, F Angelini, M Burtscher and H Gatterer
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014 May; 9(3): 532-9. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2013-0119

Reference data for bioimpedance variables exist for the normal healthy population and for different patient groups, but are lacking for elite athletes who differ from the general population in terms of body composition. Researchers working in Italy, Austria, and Malta collaborated to establish reference values for male football (soccer) players at different levels of performance.

A total of 893 players were recruited from Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (the Italian football federation) and divided into five groups according to the divisions in which they played: elite players (divisions 1-2), high-level players, medium-level semi-professionals, medium-low players, and amateurs (divisions 9-10). Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) was done with the players at rest, using a phase-sensitive impedance plethysmograph (BIA-101, Akern-RJL Systems).

The five groups differed significantly in age, height and weight, and in most variables of body composition with the exception of Xc/H. Bioimpedance vectors (R/H vs. Xc/H) for the five groups were all significantly shifted to the left compared to reference values for the healthy Italian population, and the vector for the elite-level athletes was shifted furthest left relative to the other groups. The report presents the 50%, 75%, and 95% tolerance ellipses for all players and for elite players. The authors commented that these ellipses “might be useful for interpretation of individual vectors and to define target regions of impedance vectors for low-level players.” They suggested that the observed difference between the athletes and the normal healthy population “reflects a specific body composition, which might be a consequence of sports-specific training and performance,” but noted that additional studies are needed to determine if these tolerance ellipses can be used to monitor hydration status and performance of these athletes.

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