Background Iron deficiency anaemia and iron deficiency without anemia have debilitating effects on athletic performance due to decreased work capacity and impaired cognition.
Objective The main goal of this research was to identify possible differences in haematological status between junior and elite female volleyball players.
Subjects 38 female volleyball players belonging to Junior (J) and Elite (E) Serbian and Slovenian national volleyball teams were recruited for the study. The average age of 18 E athletes was 23.8±2.9 years, body height 177.9±9.5 cm, body weight 68.9±7.9 kg and their body mass index (BMI) was 21.7±0.9 kg/m2. Training experience was 12.0±3.2 years and training load in the last micro cycle was 18.4±1.2 h per week. The age of 20 J athletes was 16.9±1.2 years, body height 177.4±5.4 cm, body weight 65.2±3.5 kg and the mean BMI was 20.8±1.4 kg/m2. Training experience was 6.4±1.4 years and training load in the last micro cycle was 15.7±1.6 h per week.
Methods Blood collection was performed between 7 and 8 am at the beginning of the pre-competitive training period after a 12-h overnight fast. Venous blood was collected into evacuated tubes (Vacutainer, Becton Dickinson, USA) from the antecubital vein with minimal stasis. Blood analyses were performed on the instrument Advia 120 (Siemens, Tarrytown, USA), appropriately calibrated and controlled. 14 parameters were taken into account: RBC, Hb, Hct, Ret_abs and Ret (%), erythrocyte index (MCV, MCH, MCHC), RDW, TIBC, iron, ferritin, transferin saturation, soluble transferring receptor (s-TfR). Descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis of variance were employed to investigate differences between the two groups. The result was considered significant when p<0.05. SPSS 17.0 statistical package were used.
Results Statistical analysis showed significant differences (p<0.05) between (J) and (E) female volleyball players in five parameters from performed blood analyses (RBC, Hct, MCHC, TIBC, ferritin) with lower absolute values in the elite group.
Conclusions The current study is the first to demonstrate differences in the haematological status between junior and elite female volleyball players, the underlying reasons for which may include differences in training experience and training load.