Morphological and physical fitness characteristics of under-16 Portuguese male handball players with different levels of practice

Biomechanics and Functional Morphology Laboratory Neuromechanics Research Group of Human Movement (CIPER), Faculty of Human Kinetics, T echnical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal - .
The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness (Impact Factor: 0.97). 04/2013; 53(2):169-76.
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to compare the morphology and physical fitness of 104 under-16 male handball athletes with different competitive levels in function of their bone maturation.

Athletes were divided into two groups, 59 competed in the NL-national league, with higher competitive level (14.06±0.66 years) and 45 competed in the RL-regional league (14.24±0.60 years). The morphology was evaluated by measuring body mass, height, sitting height, arm span, four lengths, four breadths, five girths and eleven skinfolds. The physical fitness assessment used eight tests (20-m shuttle run; 30-m sprint; sit-and-reach; horizontal and vertical jump with counter movement; overhead medicine ball throw-3 kg; handgrip; handball specific agility test). Bone age was determined using the TW3 method.

In morphological terms, NL athletes showed greater dimensions for all anthropometric variables except for hand length (transversal and longitudinal), biepicondylar femur breadth, mid-thigh girth and skinfolds. In physical fitness terms, these athletes have better results for VO2max, velocity, agility, arm strength and handgrip than athletes competing in the RL. Maturational differences explain the morphological profile superiority of NL athletes in terms of arm span, lower limb length, biacromial breadth and physical fitness profile for VO2max and arm strength.

Maturation should be considered as a covariate when one intends to distinguish the morphological characteristics and physical fitness of under-16 athletes with different levels of practice.

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    • "Consequently, previous studies identified agility as one of the most important determinants of successful play in handball (Cavala and Katic, 2010; Vieira et al., 2013; Wagner et al., 2014). However, to the best of our knowledge, all investigations done on handball athletes investigated CODS, and not reactive-agility performance (Cavala and Katic, 2010; Iacono et al., 2014; Vieira et al., 2013). Although CODS is an important quality in handball (mainly in offense), in defense reactive-agility is almost exclusively challenged. "
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    ABSTRACT: There is no current study that examined sport-specific tests of reactive-agility and change-of-direction-speed (CODS) to replicate real-sport environment in handball (team-handball). This investigation evaluated the reliability and validity of two novel tests designed to assess reactive-agility and CODS of handball players. Participants were female (25.14 ± 3.71 years of age; 1.77 ± 0.09 m and 74.1 ± 6.1 kg) and male handball players (26.9 ± 4.1 years of age; 1.90 ± 0.09 m and 93.90±4.6 kg). Variables included body height, body mass, body mass index, broad jump, 5-m sprint, CODS and reactive-agility tests. Results showed satisfactory reliability for reactive-agility-test and CODS-test (ICC of 0.85-0.93, and CV of 2.4-4.8%). The reactive-agility and CODS shared less than 20% of the common variance. The calculated index of perceptual and reactive capacity (P&RC; ratio between reactive-agility- and CODS-performance) is found to be valid measure in defining true-game reactive-agility performance in handball in both genders. Therefore, the handball athletes' P&RC should be used in the evaluation of real-game reactive-agility performance. Future studies should explore other sport-specific reactive-agility tests and factors associated to such performance in sports involving agile maneuvers. Key pointsReactive agility and change-of-direction-speed should be observed as independent qualities, even when tested over the same course and similar movement templateThe reactive-agility-performance of the handball athletes involved in defensive duties is closer to their non-reactive-agility-score than in their peers who are not involved in defensive dutiesThe handball specific "true-game" reactive-agility-performance should be evaluated as the ratio between reactive-agility and corresponding CODS performance.
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    ABSTRACT: Performance in Team Handball (TH) includes many fast high-intensity activities (e.g. sprinting, jumping, shooting, blocking) taxing mainly the anaerobic metabolic energy transfer system, which can be assessed either in laboratory or in a field setting. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between widely used assessment methods in exercise testing: 5 m, 10 m and 20 m sprint test (Brower Timing Systems, Utah, USA), countermovement jump (CMJ), 30 s Bosco test (Microgate Engineering, Bolzano, Italy) and Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT; Ergomedics 874 Monark, Varberg, Sweden). Eleven adolescent female TH players (age 13.8±1.1 years, weight 56.5±7.3 kg, height 159.9±4.0 cm, body fat percentage 24.7±4.4%) performed the abovementioned anaerobic tests. The correlations of 5 m, 10 m and 20 m sprint with peak power of WAnT were -0.44 (p=0.171), -0.63 (p=0.036) and -0.82 (p=0.002), respectively; with CMJ -0.68 (p=0.022), -0.73 (p=0.011) and -0.42 (p=0.202); and with Bosco test -0.66 (p=0.028), -0.78 (p=0.005) and -0.59 (p=0.054). Despite the small sample of participants in this study, the correlations between sprint tests and most of the anaerobic power tests were moderate to very large, suggesting the further use of laboratory methods in TH. In addition, we observed that the magnitude of these correlations was dependent on the sprint distance, i.e. the highest correlations of jumping tests were noticed in 5 m and 10 m sprints, while the highest correlation of peak power of WAnT was in 20 m. Based on these findings, it was concluded that laboratory methods can be informative about a TH player’s sprint ability; however, this relationship varies according to sprint distance.
    2nd EHF Scientific Conference “Women and Handball: Scientific and Analytical Approaches”, Vienna / AUT; 11/2013
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