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Morphological Characteristics and Body Composition of Elite Soccer Players in Montenegro/ Caracteristicas Morfologicas y Composicion Corporal de Futbolistas de Elite en Montenegro.


A soccer game is said to be the most important secondary event in the world, it gathers huge masses at stadiums and in front of TVs (Gardasevic et al., 2017). It is a highly dynamic and fast team game which, with its richness of movement, falls under the category of polystructural sports games. Soccer is a sport that is characterized by numerous and various complex and dynamic kinesiological activities which are then characterized by either cyclical or acyclical movement (Sermaxhaj et al., 2017). In soccer, top score can be achieved only under conditions of well-programmed training process. High quality management of the training process depends on the knowing of the structure of certain anthropological capabilities and player's characteristics, as well as their development. Various researches are to be done in order to establish certain principles and norms for the transformational processes of the anthropological characteristics important for soccer. However, in many places much more time is spent on increasing the physical fitness of athletes without taking into consideration the assessment of their body composition and their nutritional status (Triki et al., 2012). Findings regarding morphological characteristics and body composition are of crucial importance for complex sports games such as soccer. The morphological space is defined by the longitudinal dimension of the skeleton, the transversal dimensionality of the skeleton and the mass and volume of the body. The purpose of knowing morphological characteristics is to improve skills in many sports (Carter & Heath, 1990). The morphological status of top level athletes is relatively homogeneous, depending on the sport, and it can be defined as a model of athletic achievement (Misigoj-Durakovic et al., 1995). Research on morphological characteristics and body composition among athletes of different sports indicates that athletes of different sports have their own specific characteristics, mostly due to the reason that absolute size contributes a significant percentage of total variance associated with athletic success (Carvajal et al., 2012). Muscle mass improves performance in activities that require muscular strength and endurance, but also in those that require enviable aerobic ability (Ramadan & Byrd, 1987; Green, 1992; Rico-Sanz, 1998). The athlete's belonging to a sports branch gives to an athlete certain morphological characteristics and body compositions. It gives him the advantage of dealing with this sport in relation to others.

Today, soccer is certainly the number one sport in the world for its rating and popularity, and the same applies to Montenegro. The First League of Montenegro is the top soccer league in Montenegro. It is headed by the Soccer Association of Montenegro. Ten teams participate in this league. The winner of the Montenegrin First League starts the qualifications for the UEFA Champions League from the second round. The second placed team and the National Cup winner play in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League. The three clubs that are at the top of the First League of Montenegro and are competing for trophies almost every year are Socer Club Buducnost (hereinafter FC Buducnost), Socer Club Mladost (hereinafter FC Mladost) and Socer Club Sutjeska (hereinafter FC Sutjeska). In the 2016/17 competitive season, all of the three clubs have achieved a staggering success, FC Buducnost was the champion of Montenegro, FC Mladost was the vice champion of Montenegro and FC Sutjeska won the Cup of Montenegro. Based on results at the end of the competition season, these three clubs have acquired the right to play on the international soccer scene within the framework of UEFA's competitions. It became as interesting for researchers to determine the models of anthropometric characteristics and body composition of the players who play for these clubs as to determine the differences among them.

The aim of this research was to analyze the differences in some morphological characteristics and body composition among top soccer players, players of FC Buducnost, FC Mladost and FC Sutjeska, who compete in the First League of Montenegro.


The data obtained in the study of morphological characteristics and body composition are checked and prepared for processing according to the set goal. Data bases are arranged according to the features and prepared for planned statistical processing. The results obtained by statistical analysis are presented in the tables and analyzed by the corresponding logical units. In general, the results of the research, through gradual explanation of individual relationships, allow us to determine differences in the observed morphological measures and body composition in accordance with the aim of the research. That is, they contribute to a clearer application of the obtained results in practice. In terms of time constraint, the research is transversal, and it consists of one-off measurement of the corresponding morphological characteristics and body composition of top-level senior players.

Sample of subjects. A sample of the subjects consisted of a total of 70 top-level senior players who performed in the First League of Montenegro, divided into three sub-samples. The first sub-sample of the subjects consisted of 30 players of FC Buducnost of the average age 22.73[+ or -]4.33, the champions of Montenegro in the season 2016/17, the other sub-sample consisted of 17 players of FC Mladost of the average age of 24.59[+ or -]4.66, the vice champions of the Montenegrin Championship in the season 2016/17, and the last sub-sample of the examinees consisted of 23 players of FC Sutjeska of the average age 21.69[+ or -]4.30, the champions of the Cup of Montenegro in the season 2016/17. The soccer players were tested immediately after the season 2016/17 ended.

Sample of measures. Anthropometric research was carried out with respect to the basic rules and principles related to the selection of measuring instruments and measurement techniques standardized in accordance with the International Biological Program guidelines. For the purpose of this study, 7 morphological measures have been taken: body height, body weight, waist circumference, triceps skinfold, biceps skinfold, skinfold of the back, abdominal skinfold, and 4 body composition assessment variables: body mass index, fat percentage, muscle mass and bone mass. Anthropometer, caliper, and measuring tape were used for morphological measurements. To evaluate the body composition, Tanita body fat scale--model BC-418MA, was used. The principle of this scale is based on indirect measurement of the body composition; a safe electrical signal is transmitted through the body via electrodes located in the standalone unit. The Tanita Scale, thanks to its athletics mode, enables athletes to closely monitor their body weight, health condition and form with all relevant parameters.

Method of data processing. The data obtained through the research were processed by descriptive and comparative statistical procedures. For each variable, central and dispersion parameters have been processed. The significance of the differences between the players of the three the most successful soccer clubs in the morphological characteristics and variables for assessing body composition was determined by ANOVA and LSD Post Hoc tests, with statistical significance of p<0.05.


The variables for assessing morphological characteristics and body composition of subjects are shown in Table I.

There were significant differences in two variables among the soccer players of the three clubs. A significant difference was found for skinfold of the back (F=3.62) and fat percentage (F=6.80).

The significant differences of skinfold of the back and fat percentage among the soccer players of these three clubs are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

The LSD Post Hoc test showed that soccer players of FC Buducnost had significantly higher values of skinfold of the back compared to the soccer players of FC Sutjeska.

The LSD Post Hoc test showed that fat content in the body of soccer players of the three clubs from this study was significantly different where soccer players of FC Sutjeska had the lowest fat percentage, while the soccer players of FC Mladost had the highest fat percentage and they are statistically significantly differed from the soccer players of FC Sutjeska (p<0.01) and from the soccer players of FC Buducnost (p<0.05).


By looking into the basic descriptive statistical parameters, it can be concluded that we have examined professional sportsmen. It can be noticed that the soccer players of these three clubs are of the approximately similar mean values of the variables analyzed, which is not surprising because these are the top three clubs in Montenegro, a state where there is also a concentration of the best players. The ANOVA showed a statistically significant difference only in two variables. The first is skinfold of the back and the second is fat percentage. The LSD Post Hoc test showed that the players of FC Buducnost have significantly higher values of skinfold of the back than the players of FC Sutjeska. Soccer players of FC Sutjeska have shown statistically better values because a smaller number means a better result when the disrupting factor of subcutaneous fat on playing soccer is taken into account. The second variable in which a statistically significant difference has been found is a variable that estimates body composition, fat percentage. The LSD Post Hoc test shows that the soccer players of FC Sutjeska had the significantly lowest fat percentage compared to the soccer players of FC Mladost (p<0.01) and soccer players of FC Buducnost (p<0.05). Also, the soccer players of FC Buducnost had the significantly lower fat percentage compared to the soccer players of FC Mladost (p<0.05). Moreover, it is wellknown that low fat percentage is desirable for high physical performance in all sports. Although, not every body composition characteristic is expected to play a role in optimal performance in professional soccer, lower levels of body fat (that are specific to each player) are desirable for optimal performance as body mass must be moved against gravity (Rienzi et al., 2000; Gil et al., 2005). In other words, by achieving optimal levels of body fat and fat-free mass, the player can minimize the negative effects of excess body fat without sacrificing skill.

However, despite the significant differences all the soccer players had a lower percentage of fat and these results were expected, because many of the previous research recognized soccer as a predominantly aerobic sport (Kemi et al., 2003; Stolen et al., 2005). Furthermore, it is very important to soccer players to have a determined body fat percentage in order to perform well enough and achieve their full playing potential. The fat percentage soccer players of English Premier League vary from 9.9 percent to 12.9 percent, depending on the position (Sutton et al., 2009), in Japan 8.5-13.7 % depending on the position (Tahara et al., 2006), in Zimbabwe 9.2-11.2 % depending on the position (Masocha & Katanha, 2014). However, these are just guidelines and the players would work together with their coaches to determine the individual body fat percentage to enhance their physical abilities and their health. The importance of body composition in sport performance is a primary concern in creating athletes profiles as well as conditioning programs throughout a season at all levels of competition (Silvestre et al., 2006), in that describing anthropometric characteristics and body compositions of athletes and detecting possible differences in relation to competition levels may give coaches a better working knowledge of the studied groups of athletes.

For other variables, some values are better for players of FC Buducnost, some for players of FC Mladost and some for players of FC Sutjeska, although, insignificantly for statistics, which indicates that these players have very similar anthropometric parameters and body composition, which is again, not surprising, considering that these two clubs FC Buducnost and FC Sutjeska shared the two trophies in the 2016/17 competitive season in Montenegro, while FC Mladost was a vice champion. Given that the concentration of the best soccer players in Montenegro is in these 3 clubs, the assumption is that the mean values of the analyzed variables in all of them should be the model values for the soccer players of other clubs (Table II).

The results obtained in this research can serve as model parameters for the estimated variables for players of all other soccer clubs in Montenegro, because the players that have been analyzed here were among the best and the most successful soccer players in Montenegro at the end of the competitive season of the First League of Montenegro 2016/17. Similar results with elite soccer players received Corluka et al. (2018) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Popovic et al. (2013, 2014) in Serbia, because the quality of soccer in this region of ex Yugoslavia is very similar.

As for average height of socker players in Montenegro, comparing to all the participants in the 2018 World Soccer Championship in Russia which was 181.70 centimeters, while the average height of all players from Croatia league was (183.60 cm), Germany (183.5 cm), Denmark (183.5 cm), Poland (183 cm), showed by an official statistical data proved, that soccer players in Montenegro are tall enough and very similar to the average players in the listed European leagues. The tendency to recruit taller soccer players is not unsworn in the scientific literature yet (Popovic et al., 2012).

The values obtained in this research can be useful for coaches of other clubs for making a comparison of their soccer players with the best soccer players in Montenegro and formulate their training in a way that enables reduction of those parameters that are not good, and raise those that are good to a higher level. That will surely make their soccer players even better and more successful. Also, socker clubs in Montenegro should turn to other research and check the functional-motor status, psychological preparation as well as tactical training of their players and analyze whether there is a room for improvement.


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Corresponding author:

Jovan Gardasevic, Teacher Assistant

University of Montenegro

Faculty for Sport and Physical Education

Narodne omladine bb

81400 Niksic


Received: 07-07-2018

E-mail: Accepted: 17-10-2018

Jovan Gardasevic (1); Dusko Bjelica (1) & Ivan Vasiljevic (1)

Faculty for Sport and Physical Education, University of Montenegro, Niksic, Montenegro.

Caption: Fig. 1. LSD Post Hoc test for the skinfold of the back **= significance < 0.01

Caption: Fig. 2. LSD Post Hoc test for the fat percentage **= significance < 0.01; *= significance < 0.05
Table I. Descriptive data and ANOVA of 70 soccer players, members
of the three clubs

Variables                   FC BUDUCNOST           FC MLADOST

                            Mean  [+ or -]  Standard Deviation

body height (cm)            181.96 [+ or -] 5.89   183.48 [+ or -] 6.02
body weight (kg)            78.03 [+ or -] 8.52    79.38 [+ or -] 5.92
waist circumference (cm)    83.43 [+ or -] 5.23    84.59 [+ or -] 3.81
triceps skinfold (mm)        7.79 [+ or -] 2.45     6.81 [+ or -] 2.21
biceps skinfold (mm)         5.28 [+ or -] 1.29     4.72 [+ or -] 1.23
skinfold of the back (mm)    9.81 [+ or -] 2.89     9.16 [+ or -] 1.78
abdominal skinfold (mm)     10.22 [+ or -] 2.90     9.72 [+ or -] 3.55
body mass index (kg/m2)     23.49 [+ or -] 1.45    23.52 [+ or -] 1.03
fat percentage (%)           9.98 [+ or -] 2.76    11.88 [+ or -] 2.38
muscle mass (kg)            39.54 [+ or -] 3.69    39.60 [+ or -] 3.10
bone mass (kg)               3.20 [+ or -] .34      3.19 [+ or -] .30

Variables                   FC SUTJESKA            ANOVA

                                                   F      Sig.

body height (cm)            182.99  [+ or -] 6.77  .36     .693
body weight (kg)            78.33 [+ or -] 7.71    .17     .843
waist circumference (cm)    83.00 [+ or -] 3.82    .63     .532
triceps skinfold (mm)        6.46 [+ or -] 1.66    2.66    .077
biceps skinfold (mm)         4.52 [+ or -] 1.22    2.58    .083
skinfold of the back (mm)    8.13 [+ or -] 1.42    3.62   .032 *
abdominal skinfold (mm)      8.25 [+ or -] 2.38    3.06    .053
body mass index (kg/m2)     23.36 [+ or -] 1.41    .08     .918
fat percentage (%)           8.66 [+ or -] 2.92    6.80   .002 *
muscle mass (kg)            40.56 [+ or -] 3.81    .59     .552
bone mass (kg)               3.38 [+ or -] .56     1.46    .238

Table II. Descriptive data of all 70 soccer players

Variables                   Min    Max    Mean [+ or -] Std. Dev.

age                          17     35      22.84 [+ or -] 4.47
body height (cm)            166    196     182.67 [+ or -] 6.16
body weight (kg)            64.7   96.9     78.45 [+ or -] 7.60
waist circumference (cm)     74     95     83.57 [+ or -] 4. 46
triceps skinfold (mm)        3      14      7.11 [+ or -] 2.21
biceps skinfold (mm)        3.1    8.2      4.89 [+ or -] 1.28
skinfold of the back (mm)   3.6    18.6     9.09 [+ or -] 2.33
abdominal skinfold (mm)     5.4    18.2     9.45 [+ or -] 3.00
body mass index (kg/m2)     21.1   27.1     23.45 [+ or -] 1.33
fat percentage (%)          2.6    16.1     10.00 [+ or -] 2.95
muscle mass (kg)            34.1   46.9     39.89 [+ or -] 3.57
bone mass (kg)              2.7    5.0      3.26 [+ or -] 0.42
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Author:Gardasevic, Jovan; Bjelica, Dusko; Vasiljevic, Ivan
Publication:International Journal of Morphology
Date:Mar 1, 2019
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