Advisory Committee Chair
R Drew Sayer
Advisory Committee Members
Jose R Fernandez
Date of Award
Degree Name by School
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Health Professions
Body composition is an important factor that determines athletic performance. At the elite level, margins of victory are narrow, with small changes in performance making the difference between victory and defeat. Changes in body composition affect performance, in both improvements and decrements. Athletes regularly experience breaks from structured activity and resources caused by expected circumstances (school breaks, off-season) and unexpected circumstances (injury, COVID-19). Due to differences in diet, physical activity, and other factors, breaks may cause changes in body composition that can hinder or help the athlete upon return to structured resources. Currently, there is a plethora of cross-sectional research about body composition in athletes and changes over the course of a competitive season. However, research about body composition change over breaks is lacking. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine changes in body composition among college athletes over a variety of breaks. Investigation of pre and post measures of body composition were completed during the COVID-19 lockdown (aim 1), winter breaks (aim 2), and summer training cycle (aim 3). Collectively, the results indicated that body composition changes over breaks (aims 1, 2, and 3) and that those changes are sex specific (aims 1 and 2). Aim 1 showed a loss of body fat for males and a gain of body fat for females. Aim 2 showed that males gained body fat during an extended winter break. Aim 3 showed male collegiate basketball players gained fat-free mass and lost fat mass during summer training, partly during a four-week break. Future research should determine how weight-impacting behaviors such as diet and physical activity differ when college athletes are on campus versus on breaks. This research can help athletics staff develop strategies to help athletes maintain optimal body composition and performance during breaks.
Dommel, Aston, "Unexpected and Usual Breaks' Impact on Body Composition in College Athletes" (2022). All ETDs from UAB. 51.