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Abstract

Aim: The aim of the present study was to examine differences in the physical demands imposed on male vs. female adult elite team handball players during match--play. Methods: Male and female elite team handball players were monitored over a six and five season time span, respectively. Each player was evaluated during match--play by use of video recording and subsequent computerized locomotive and technical match analysis. Furthermore, physiological measurements during match--play, physical testing and anthropometric measurements were performed. Results: Female players (FP, n=82) covered a longer mean total distance per match (4693±333 m, group means±SD) compared to male players (MP, n=83, 3945±538 m) when playing full time (p<0.01). FP exercised at a greater relative workload (79.4 % of VO2--max) than MP (70.9 % of VO2--max, p<0.05), but performed less high--intense running per match (2.6 % of total distance covered) than MP (7.9 %, p<0.01). FP also spent less time standing still (10.8 % of total effective playing time) compared to MP (36.9 %, p<0.001) and showed fewer activity changes (663.8±99.7) compared to MP (1482.4±312.6, p<0.001). MP received more tackles in total in offence (34.5±21.3) and performed more tackles in total in defence (29.9±12.3) compared to FP (14.6±9.2, 20.7±9.7, p<0.05). Further, MP performed more high--intense technical playing actions per match (36.9±13.1) than FP (28.3±11.0, p<0.05). Mean body height and body mass differed between MP (189.6±5.8 cm, 91.7±7.5 kg) and FP (175.4±6.1 cm, 69.5±6.5 kg, p<0.001). Conclusions: Substantial gender--specific differences in the physical demands in elite team handball were observed, with MP performing more high--intense, strength--related playing actions and high--intensity running than FP. Conversely, FP covered a greater total distance and demonstrated a higher relative workload than MP. The physical training of male and female elite team handball players should be designed to reflect these contrasting needs.
878
THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
training of male and female elite team handball players
should be designed to reflect these contrasting needs.
K : Physical exercise - Human body - Anthropometry.
Team handball (TH) is a global ball game sport
with professional leagues in many countries.
Major international championships are held regu-
larly, and TH has been a part of the Olympic Games
both for men and women for more than 35 years.
Most researchers believe that the game was invented
in Denmark, where the rst historical evidence dates
from around 1897.
1
From the start it was a game for
men, but women gained rapid interest in the game
beginning to play TH as early as 1905. Over the last
20 years, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries
have ranked among the absolute world elite in both
male and female TH, winning a number of medals
at the Olympic Games, World and European Cham-
pionships, and also been winner of the Champions
League for club teams numerous times.
Modern elite TH is a physically demanding con-
tact team sport that is determined by the individu-
al performance of each player as well as the tacti-
cal components and interaction of the players on
the team. It is characterized by sixty minutes (two
halves, each of 30 min effective playing time) of fast,
intense and dynamic activities such as repeated ac-
celerations, sprints, jumps, shots, rapid changes of
1
DepartmentofPublicHealth, SectionofSportScience
AarhusUniversity, Aarhus, Denmark
2
InstituteofSportScienceandClinicalBiomechanics
UniversityofSouthernDenmark, Odense, Denmark
J SPORTS MED PHYS FITNESS 2015;55:878-91
L. BOJSEN MICHALSIK 1, 2, P. AAGAARD 2
Physical demands in elite team handball:
comparisons between male and female players
Aim. The aim of the present study was to examine potential
differences in the physical demands imposed on male vs. fe-
male adult elite team handball players during match-play.
Methods. Male and female elite team handball players
were monitored over a six and five season time span, re-
spectively. Each player was evaluated during match-play
by use of video recording and subsequent computerized
locomotive and technical match analysis. Furthermore,
physiological measurements during match-play, physi-
cal testing and anthropometric measurements were per-
formed.
Results. Female players (FP, N.=82) covered a longer mean
total distance per match (4693±333 m, group means±SD)
compared to male players (MP, N.=83, 3945±538 m) when
playing full time (P<0.01). FP exercised at a greater rela-
tive workload (79.4% of VO2-max) than MP (70.9% of
VO2-max, P<0.05), but performed less high-intense run-
ning per match (2.5% of total distance covered) than MP
(7.9%, P<0.01). FP also spent less time standing still (10.8%
of total effective playing time) compared to MP (36.9%,
P<0.001) and showed fewer activity changes (663.8±99.7)
compared to MP (1482.4±312.6, P<0.001). MP received
more tackles in total in offence (34.5±21.3) and performed
more tackles in total in defence (29.9±12.3) compared to FP
(14.6±9.2, 20.7±9.7, P<0.05). Furthermore, MP performed
more high-intense technical playing actions per match
(36.9±13.1) than FP (28.3±11.0, P<0.05). The mean body
height and body mass differed between MP (189.6±5.8 cm,
91.7±7.5 kg) and FP (175.4±6.1 cm, 69.5±6.5 kg, P<0.001).
Conclusions. Substantial gender-specific differences in the
physical demands in elite team handball were observed,
with MP performing more high-intense, strength-related
playing actions and high-intensity running than FP. Con-
versely, FP covered a greater total distance and demon-
strated a higher relative workload than MP. The physical
Corresponding author: L. Bojsen Michalsik, Section of Sport Sci-
ence, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Dalgas Avenue
4, 8000, Aarhus C., Denmark. E-mail: lbmichalsik@health.sdu.dk
PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL BOJSEN MICHALSIK
Vol. 55 - No. 9 THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
879
ment methods. It was hypothesized that gender dif-
ferences in the physical demands would be observed.
Materials and methods
Subjects
A large group of male and female elite TH play-
ers were recruited for the study from teams ranked
in the upper half of the Danish Premier Team Hand-
ball League. A majority of the participants played at
the international top level (European Team Handball
Champions League, multiple national teams). All
players were fully informed of all experimental pro-
cedures and possible discomforts associated with the
study before giving their written informed consent
to participate. The conditions of the study were ap-
proved by the local Municipal Ethics Committee. The
study was conducted in accordance with recognized
ethical standards as described by Harriss & Atkinson
9
and with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.
The MP and FP were examined over a six-year and
a ve-year period, respectively. The study was carried
out during the entire tournament match season (Sep-
tember to May, with players performing 6-10 training
sessions and 1-2 matches per week). A number of dif-
ferent teams were monitored in the present study, with
new players joining individual teams, while other play-
ers conversed were leaving the teams during the study
period. No year-to-year differences were observed
during the whole study period for any of the analysed
parameters. All analysed matches were performed in-
door under thermoneutral conditions in terms of tem-
perature (18-22 ºC) and humidity (50-70%).
Experimental procedures
In the present study, the assessment of the physio-
logical and physical demands in modern elite TH
were based on video based player observations dur-
ing match-play complemented by measurements of
relevant physiological variables also during match-
play (working demand analysis) and measurements
of the physical capacity and body anthropometry in
elite players (capacity analysis).
Observations during match play-video recordings
Observations during match-play took place by
means of video recordings as described in detail
direction and high amounts of body contact between
players.
2-6
Additionally, specic technical activities
are performed in response to the varying tactical sit-
uations of the game.
The increasing number of matches and national/
international tournaments has led to an extended
competition period covering 9-10 months per year.
Therefore, the physique of top level TH players has
a governing inuence on playing performance not
only during each game throughout the entire regular
season, but especially in various tournaments, where
multiple matches are played over a short period of
time. To plan and implement effective physical train-
ing in top level TH players, it is necessary to know
the physical working demands of the game. A com-
plete analysis of the physical working demands of
modern elite TH have recently been conducted sepa-
rately for male and female elite players.
2-7
It is well known that physiological differences ex-
ist between the sexes, since men in general are taller,
heavier with larger muscle mass, stronger, faster
and have a higher VO
2
-max than women.
8
However,
these differences do not have any impact on the TH
game itself as no match under normal circumstances
is played against someone of the opposite sex. In fact,
the only difference between male and female TH is
that the ball is larger and heavier in the men’s game
(450 vs. 350 grams). So the question arises, whether
from a physiological point of view differences exist
between the physical demands imposed by male and
female elite TH match-play, respectively. If this is the
case, physical training in TH should be designed and
performed in ways that reect the specic demands
placed on male (MP) and female players (FP), re-
spectively. To the best of our knowledge no previous
study has examined the gender-specic differences
in physical demands in elite TH. Consequently, there
is a need to examine the potential differences in the
physical demands of modern elite TH between MP
and FP thoroughly in order to evaluate, if the physi-
cal training for MP should differ from that of FP.
The aim of the present study, therefore, was to
identify potential gender-specic differences in the
physical demands imposed on players during mod-
ern adult elite TH match-play. The study was con-
ducted by comparing the working demands in mod-
ern male elite TH
2-4
with a corresponding analysis of
the working demands in modern female elite TH.
5-7
Both analyses used identical experimental assess-
BOJSEN MICHALSIK PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL
880
THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
performing players) among the team players. Conse-
quently, the mean playing time for rst choice play-
ers was often high, with limited playing time for all
other players.
Players with greatly reduced on-court playing
time were not examined in the present study, since
such players (playing for e.g. 15 minutes) are more
likely to show an atypically high playing intensity
compared to players, who are involved for longer du-
rations of the game. If the specialized or substituted
players with short playing time were included, the
average results would probably show a different pic-
ture of the activity pattern of elite TH players.
Tactical/technical demands differ substantially be-
tween offence and defence actions during TH match-
play. The present computerized match analysis,
therefore, focused separately on offensive and defen-
sive playing actions. In this differential analysis (of-
fence vs. defence), eld players were further divided
into three categories, wing players, pivots and back-
court players, respectively. Each match was analyzed
twice for each of the players. The rst computerized
analysis included locomotion match characteristics
(running types, intensity and distance), which has
previously been used in the analysis of other ball-
games such as soccer, basketball and rugby.
4
A total of 8 locomotive categories were registered
in accordance with previous studies in elite soccer
players.
10-12
Each movement category was classied
by a precise denition of the form of locomotion and
the locomotive speed measured in km·h
-1
. The speed
was determined from detailed studies of the video
recordings using lines on the playing court as spatial
reference marks. The selected speeds were the same
for all players, but a little higher in most categories
for MP compared to FP. Using speeds given for the
various locomotion categories, the distance covered
for each activity within each interval was determined
as the product of the total time and mean speed for
that activity. Total distance covered during a match
was calculated as the sum of the distances covered
during each type of locomotion.
The movement categories and corresponding
speeds for FP and MP, respectively, were low-inten-
sity activities (standing still [0 km·h
-1
] and walking
[4 km·h
-1
]), moderate-intensity activities (jogging [7
and 8 km·h
-1
], sideways movement [9 and 10 km·h
-1
],
backwards running [9 and 10 km·h
-1
]) and running
[12 and 13 km·h
-1
]), and high-intensity running ([fast
elsewhere.
4
In brief, one camera followed one player
without interruption throughout the entire course of
the match regardless what the player did. These video
recordings mainly involved eld players although a
few recordings also were performed in goalkeepers.
A large number of tournament matches in the Dan-
ish Premier Male (62) vs. Female (46) Team Hand-
ball League were monitored. On average 4 players
were recorded per match, which provided a total of
about 420 single player recordings. Since TH rules
allow unlimited substitutions of players throughout
the entire match, it was not possible to collect ade-
quate individual data for a full match time of 60 min.
Conversely, we aimed to only include players with
substantial playing time, in order to ensure that their
activity pattern would reect the true physical de-
mands of the game. The inclusion criteria, therefore,
was determined as being an effective playing time
for the whole match of 42 min or more (i.e. ≥70% of
total effective playing time (TPT)) with an effective
playing time in each half of the game of 18 min or
more (i.e. ≥60% of total duration of one half). A total
of 82 recordings of MP and 84 recordings of FP (a
total of 52 individuals players on the teams studied,
mean number of recordings per player: 3.2, range:
1-8) fullled these conditions and were analysed ac-
cording to the established criteria.
3, 4
The players examined in the present study on
average played roughly one tournament match per
week during the regular tournament match season
(Danish National Championship). This is much dif-
ferent from the conditions of national team players
when participating in international elite TH tourna-
ments, where each team typically play about 8-10
matches in 10-14 days.
4
In such tournaments, play-
ers tend to be more frequently substituted on all
playing positions, especially for backcourt players
and pivots,
4
to enable players to consistently per-
form at a high level during the entire time course of
the tournament.
Additionally, for mainly tactical reasons some
players rotate between every ball possession, i.e.
some players specializes to play in offense only,
while others play only in defence. However, only a
limited number of specialized players were observed
in the present study. This is probably because at the
club level the best players will mostly have to take
part in both offence and defence, due to the relative-
ly large differences in playing standards (fewer top
PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL BOJSEN MICHALSIK
Vol. 55 - No. 9 THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
881
domains, namely total playing time (the time span of
the whole match), effective playing time (the time
span of actual playing time) and individual playing
time (the time span, when the individual player is
active on the court).
Physical testing
L  
On a separate day, an incremental treadmill
running test was performed, which consisted of a
submaximal test followed by an exhaustive incre-
mental maximal test (all-out test).
2, 5, 7
The protocol
consisted of 6-min horizontal running, each period
separated by 2-min rest periods (submaximal test).
The running speed started at 8 km·h
-1
for FP and at
10 km·h
-1
for MP, respectively, and was increased
with 2 km·h
-1
each time. Subsequently after a 15-
min rest period, an all-out test was performed. The
all-out test was initiated at a running speed at 12
km·h
-1
for FP and at 14 km·h
-1
for MP for 2 min,
followed by 1 min at 14 and 16 km·h
-1
, respectively,
and then continued with stepwise 1 km·h
-1
speed in-
crements every minute until exhaustion. Total run-
ning time to exhaustion during the all-out test was
recorded.
Respiratory measurements were conducted us-
ing online analysis (AMIS 2001, Damec Research,
Odense, Denmark and Oxycon Pro, Jaeger, VIASYS
Healthcare, Hoechberg, Germany, respectively).
During the submaximal test, VO
2
was measured in
30-second intervals during the nal 2 min of steady-
state running at each running speed. Individual max-
imal oxygen uptake (VO
2
-max) and HR-max were
determined as the peak values recorded in a 15- and
5-s period, respectively, during the nal phase of
the all-out test. In addition, the Fitness Index (ml
O
2
·min
-1
·kg
-0.73
) was calculated.
14
HR was continuously recorded in 5-s intervals
throughout the test (Polar S610 HR monitor, Polar
Electro OY, Kempele, Finland). The individual HR-
VO
2
relationship obtained during the treadmill test
(correlation equation y=a·x+b) was used to estimate
VO
2
during match-play based on the HR recording
obtained during match-play according to previous
soccer match analyses.
15-17
Subsequently, the rela-
tive workload during match-play could be deter-
mined expressed as% of VO
2
-max.
running - [15.5 and 17 km·h
-1
] and sprinting [22 and
24 km·h
-1
]).
Since TH involves large amounts of physical con-
tact, computerized technical match analysis (techni-
cal playing actions) of each game was conducted to
avoid an underestimation of the quantity of move-
ment. Six types of playing actions were registered:
shots, breakthroughs, fast breaks, tackles, techni-
cal errors and defensive errors. Each playing action
was further divided into a number of sub-categories
(e.g. hard or light tackles, clapings, type of shot per-
formed and screenings), all of which were precisely
dened.
3
A few actions did overlap, e.g. a break-
through could result in a technical error, in a shot
or in a tackle of a special category. Players, who
regularly changed defensive playing position mak-
ing it impossible to dene a xed defensive playing
position, were excluded from the analysis of defen-
sive playing actions. The number of physical con-
frontations was quantied by registering all tackles,
screenings, claspings and blockings, i.e. by identify-
ing all technical playing actions that involved physi-
cal contact between players.
For both match analyses, a special designed com-
puter based analysis program for TH was used.
4, 13
To ensure high data reliability, all matches in the pre-
sent study were analysed by the same experienced
observer. An identical approach has been used in
previous studies.
11, 12
No systematic differences in
the intraobserver test-retest analysis outcome were
observed after a period of intense analyst training.
More details about the video analyses are given.
3, 4
Physiological measurements during match-play
The physiological workload during matches in
the Danish Premier Male vs. Female Team Handball
League was registered by continuous HR monitor-
ing in successive 5-second intervals. Approximate-
ly 45 minutes before match start, the players were
equipped with a chest strap heart monitor (Polar
Team System, Polar Electro OY, Kempele, Fin-
land) with the receiver part located in the transmit-
ter strap (no need for a wristwatch receiver during
match-play). By registration of the time when the
match was paused and when the player was not on
the court due to substitution, suspension or injury,
all inactive time periods could be excluded from the
HR analysis. HR was analysed in three different time
BOJSEN MICHALSIK PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL
882
THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
tion of Gaussian data distribution was visually veri-
ed using QQ-plots. When two normally distributed
parameters were compared within the same group of
subjects (e.g. differences between rst and second
half), Student’s paired t-test was used. Student´s non-
paired t-testing was used to compare non-matched
subject groups (e.g. differences between rst and
second choice players). The assumption about simi-
lar variance was tested using residual plots.
Statistical differences between several groups (i.e.
comparing different playing positions) were evalu-
ated using one-way analysis of variance, ANOVA.
Post Hoc differences between groups were evaluated
by Tukey’s HSD testing (normally distributed). The
Pearson product-moment correlation analysis was
used to evaluate potential relationships between se-
lected parameters. Cohen´s d-test was used to cal-
culate effect size (d-values stated as ES) to estimate
the magnitude of the results (differences between
subjects or groups), and were reported along with all
statistically signicant results as an indicator of prac-
tical signicance. The statistical level of signicance
was set at P≤0.05 using a two-tailed test design.
Results
Locomotion characteristics, physiological measure-
ments and physical testing
Marked differences were observed in the move-
ment pattern between MP and FP during match-play
(Table I). Standing still and walking combined con-
stituted nearly the same amount per match for MP
(76.4±10.4 of TPT) and FP (73.1±4.8%), but FP
B 
Anthropometric data (body mass, standing body
height) were recorded in all players from the top
ranked teams during physical tests sessions. In addi-
tion, body anthropometry and relevant player charac-
teristics for the remaining teams of the Danish Pre-
mier Male vs. Female Team Handball League were
obtained by the team physician or physiotherapist
and subsequently reported to the principal author in
the rst season (N.=120) and in the fourth season
(N.=157) for FP and in the rst season (N.=152) and
in the fth season (N.=191) for MP. Specically, in-
formation about the individual players´ body mass,
body height, age, playing position, player choice
(rst or second choice) and playing experience (years
of playing) at the adult elite level were obtained.
Body mass was measured with the players wear-
ing light indoor clothing (short pants, t-shirt) and no
shoes, using commercially available electronic dig-
ital scales (measurement error ≤1%). Standing body
height was measured to the nearest mm using a wall-
mounted stadiometer with players positioned in an
erect posture against a wall without socks and shoes
or in some cases using a portable stadiometer (meas-
urement error ≤1 mm, corresponding to ≤0.05% rela-
tive error).
Statistical analysis
All statistical analyses were conducted using R2
Version 13.1 (University of Auckland, New Zealand).
All data are expressed as group mean values±standard
deviations (SD) unless otherwise stated. The assump-
T I.—Gender differences in offensive and defensive locomotive actions in total per match for male (N.=82) and female elite team
handball players (N.=83) separated into in the eight movement categories. Results are mean.
Male players (N.=82)
% of total playing time per match Female players (N.=83)
% of total playing time per match
Playing time (min) 53.85 50.70 *
Standing still 36.8 10.8 **
Walking 39.6 62.3 **
Jogging 8.6 18.8 **
Running 4.4 4.9
Fast running 1.4 0.7 **
Sprinting 0.4 0.1 **
Sideways movement 7.4 1.8 **
Backwards running 1.4 0.6 *
Total 100.0 100.0
Difference between male and female players *P<0.05 and **P<0.001.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL BOJSEN MICHALSIK
Vol. 55 - No. 9 THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
883
VO
2
-max) than MP (70.9±6.0%, P<0.05, ES=1.37),
but performed less amount of high-intensity running
per match (2.5±1.8% of total distance covered) than
MP (7.9±4.9%, P<0.01, ES=1.46). Furthermore, FP
worked with a lower mean speed (5.31±0.33 km·h
-1
),
which was calculated without the contribution of
the standing still category, and had fewer mean
number of activity changes (663.6±100.1) com-
pared to MP (6.40±1.01 km·h
-1
, P<0.001, ES=1.45;
1482.4±312.6, P<0.001, ES=3.53). MP showed a
higher oxygen uptake than FP, irrespectively of nor-
malisation procedure (Table II).
Position specic locomotion match prole
No differences in on-court playing time between
the different playing positions were observed in
either MP (Wing Players: 52.80±5.40 min, Pivots:
53.20±6.18 min, Backcourt Players: 54.72±5.52
spent less time standing still (10.8±3.8% of TPT) and
equivalent more time walking (62.3±5.9% of TPT)
compared to MP (36.8±8.6%, P<0.001, ES=3.91;
39.6±7.3%, P<0.001, ES=3.42). MP performed
more high-intensity running (1.7±0.9% of TPT)
than FP (0.8±0.5, P<0.001, ES=1.24) and also more
sideways movement (7.4±2.7% of TPT) and back-
wards running (1.4±0.8% of TPT) compared to FP
(1.8±1.3%, P<0.001, ES=2.64; 0.6±0.4%, P<0.001,
ES=1.26).
FP covered a greater total distance per match
(4002±551 m) than MP (3627±568 m, P<0.05,
ES=0.67) in spite of that the analysed matches for
FP were in average were 3.15 minutes shorter com-
pared to MP (Table II). The same picture emerged
when comparing full-time players (60 min play-
ing time; 4693±333 m vs. 3945±538 m, P<0.01,
ES=1.67). FP exercised at a greater relative work-
load during their time on the court (79.4±6.4% of
T II.—Gender differences in selected categories of the physical demands during match-play (group means±SD) between Danish
male and female elite team handball players.
Male players
(N.=82) Female players
(N.=83)
Mean effective playing time (min) 53.85±5.87 50.70±5.83 *
Total distance covered (m) 3627±568 4002±551 *
Total distance covered, full-time players (m) 3945±538 4693±333 **
High-intensity running (% of total distance covered) 7.9±4.9 2.5±1.8 **
Standing still (% of total playing time) 36.8±8.6 10.8±3.8 ***
Sideways movement (% of total playing time) 7.4±2.7 1.8±1.3 ***
Mean speed (km·h
-1
) 6.40±1.01 5.31±0.33 **
Activity changes (number) 1482.4±312.6 663.6±100.1 ***
Relative workload (% of VO
2
-max) 70.9±6.0 79.4±6.4 *
High-intense technical playing actions (number) 36.9±13.1 28.3±11.0 *
VO
2
-max (l O
2
·min
-1
) 5.18±0.66 3.49±0.37 ***
VO
2
-max (ml O
2
·min
-1
·kg
-1
) 57.0±4.1 49.6±4.8 ***
Fitness Index (ml O
2
·min
-1
·kg
-0.73
) 192.6±18.2 156.4±15.3 ***
Difference between male and female players *P<0.05, **P<0.01 and ***P<0.001.
T III.—Positional differences in total distance covered, amount of high-intensity running and relative workload during match-
play, respectively, for Danish male (N.=82) and female elite team handball players (N.=83).
Wing players Pivots Backcourt players
Total distance covered (m)
Male players 3641±501 3295±495 3765±532
Female players 4086±523 * 4067±485 * 3867±386
High-intensity running (% of total distance covered)
Male players 10.9±5.7 8.5±4.3 6.2±3.2
Female players 3.6±1.5 ** 2.3±1.5 ** 1.3±0.9 **
Relative workload during match-play (% of VO2-max)
Male players 73.2±4.9 73.8±5.9 67.9±5.6
Female players 78.4±5.9 * 83.1±4.9 * 75.8±6.5 *
Difference between male and female players *P<0.05 and **P<0.01.
BOJSEN MICHALSIK PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL
884
THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
backcourt players (67.9±5.6), while female pivots
were even more active and played at a higher rela-
tive workload (83.1±4.9) than both wing players
(78.4±5.9, P<0.05, ES=0.87) and backcourt players
(75.8±6.5, P<0.01, ES=1.27) (Table III). In both sexes,
backcourt players were the least active of all players.
Expressed relative to body mass (ml O
2
·min
-1
·kg
-1
)
or as Fitness Index (ml O
2
·min
-1
·kg
-0.73
), VO
2
-max
did not differ between playing positions both for MP
and FP.
Technical match prole
Gender differences were observed in the techni-
cal match analysis (Table IV). In offence, MP per-
formed more fast breaks (6.0±4.2) than FP (2.8±2.6,
P<0.001, ES=0.92), received more tackles in total
(hard and light tackles combined, 34.5±21.3) than FP
(14.6±9.2, P<0.001, ES=1.21) and did less technical
errors (1.5±1.3) compared to FP (2.9±2.3, P<0.05,
ES=0.75).
In defence, MP performed more tackles in total
(29.9±12.7) than FP (20.7±9.7, P<0.01, ES=0.81)
and did more claspings (3.9±3.0) and screen-
ings (6.1±3.1) compared to FP (1.9±2.7, P<0.01,
min) or FP (Wing Players: 51.35±6.88 min, Pivots:
51.12±5.20 min, Backcourt Players: 49.70±4.88
min). MP exercised at all playing positions with a
higher anaerobic load (more high-intensity run-
ning) and at a lower aerobic intensity (lower rela-
tive workload) compared to FP (Table III). In addi-
tion, for both MP and FP several differences were
observed between various playing positions (Table
III). Among MP, backcourt players (3765±532 m,
P<0.05, EA=0.91) and wing players (3641±501 m
P<0.05, ES=0.69) covered a greater total distance
than pivots (3295±495 m), while female pivots were
more agile and performed relative more running.
Among FP, pivots (4067±485 m, P<0.05, ES=0.45)
together with wing players (4086±523 m, P<0.05,
ES=0.47) covered a greater total distance than back-
court players (3867±386 m). In both sexes, wing
players performed more high-intensity running (MP
10.9±5.7%, FP 3.6±1.5% of total distance covered)
than pivots (8.5±4.3%, P<0.05, ES=0.48; 2.3±1.5%,
P<0.01; ES=0.87) and backcourt players (6.2±3.2%,
P<0.01, ES=1.02; 1.3±0.9, P<0.01, ES=1.86).
Among MP, both pivots (73.8±5.9, P<0.05,
ES=1.03) and wing players (73.2±4.9, P<0.05,
ES=0.91) played at a higher relative workload than
T IV.—Gender differences in offensive and defensive technical playing actions in total (group means±SD) for the entire match for
Danish male (N.=82) and female elite team handball players (N.=84).
Technical playing actions
Male players
(N.=82)
Number
per match
Female players
(N.=84)
Number
per match
Offensive actions - 1. half and 2. half in total
Playing time (min) 26.18±3.13 24.57±4.33
Offensive breakthroughs 1.5±1.4 1.3±2.2
Fast breaks 6.0±4.2 2.8±2.6 **
Technical errors 1.5±1.3 2.9±2.3 *
Hard tackles 7.5±4.4 5.0±4.0 *
Light tackles 27.0±18.4 9.6±6.2 **
Clasping 2.7±1.9 1.2±2.0 *
Screenings 4.8±8.3 7.9±9.8*
Shots 8.5±4.2 7.7±3.7
Scoring percentage 44.9±17.7 51.9±21.4
Defensive actions - 1. half and 2. half in total
Playing time (min) 27.67±3.18 26.13±3.85
Hard tackles 5.8±3.6 6.2±3.8
Light tackles 24.1±12.6 14.5±7.4 *
Clasping 3.9±3.0 1.9±2.7 **
Screenings 6.1±3.1 4.2±3.7 **
Blockings 3.7±3.5 3.5±3.8
Defensive errors 3.8±2.5 5.1±3.2 *
Difference between male and female players *P<0.05 and **P<0.001.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL BOJSEN MICHALSIK
Vol. 55 - No. 9 THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
885
mass of 14.2 cm and 22.2 kg, respectively. No differ-
ence was seen in age and adult elite playing experi-
ence between the two sexes (Table V).
The potential effect of body anthropometry, age
and playing experience on individual playing time
and hence playing performance can be illustrated
by comparing rst (players, who were selected for
the team’s starting line-up and usually did get most
on-court playing time) and second-choice players. In
both sexes for all players combined, no differenc-
es in body height and body mass between the two
choices of players were observed, but rst-choice
players were older and more experienced (P<0.001)
than second-choice players (Table VI).
Position specic differences in technical characteris-
tics and in body anthropometry
Technical playing actions differed at all playing
positions between MP and FP with MP performing
more fast breaks and physical confrontations with
opponent players (tackles, screenings, claspings and
blockings) than FP. Furthermore, a number of differ-
ences were observed between various playing posi-
tions for both MP and FP in regard to the various
technical categories. Notably, wing players both for
MP and FP had less physical confrontations in of-
ES=0.70; 4.2±3.7, P<0.05, ES=0.56). In total, MP
performed a higher number of high-intense playing
actions per match (36.9±13.1) than FP (28.3±11.0,
P<0.05, ES=0.71).
Differences between rst and second half of the
match
Compared to the rst half both MP and FP dem-
onstrated a decrease during the second half of
match-play in the amount of high-intensity run-
ning, HR, relative workload and in number of
high-intense playing actions. As the only differ-
ence between MP and FP, the number of technical
playing actions declined in MP, but not in FP in the
second half.
3, 6
Anthropometric and player characteristics
Mean body height and body mass in the Danish
Premier Male Team Handball League were sub-
stantially higher (189.6±5.8 cm, 91.7±7.5 kg) com-
pared to the Danish Premier Female Team Handball
League (175.4±6.1 cm, P<0.001, ES=2.39; 69.5±6.5
kg, P<0.001, ES=3.16) corresponding to a mean dif-
ference between MP and FP in body height and body
T V.—Age, body height, body mass, and number of years played on adult elite level (group means±SD) for male (N.=348) and
female elite team handball players (N.=277) inclusive goalkeepers, respectively, in the Danish Premier Team Handball League.
Male players
(N.=348) Female players
(N.=277)
Age (years) 26.1±3.9 25.4±3.7
Body height (cm) 189.6±5.8 175.4±6.1 *
Body mass (kg) 91.7±7.5 69.5±6.5 *
Adult elite playing experience (years) 7.3±4.5 7.2±3.9
Difference between male and female players *P<0.001.
T VI.—Age, body height, body mass, and number of years played on adult elite level (group means±SD) for rst and second
choice players for male (N.=348) and female elite team handball players (N.=277) inclusive goalkeepers, respectively, in the Danish
Premier Team Handball League.
Age
(years) Body height
(cm) Body mass
(kg) Number of adult
elite years
Male players (N.=348)
1. choice (n=187) 27.3±3.6 * 190.1±6.1 92.0±7.6 8.4±3.4 *
2. choice (n=161) 24.6±4.2 189.1±5.2 91.4±8.3 5.8±3.8
Female players (N.=277)
1. choice (n=163) 26.4±3.4 * 175.8±5.9 69.8±6.2 8.3±3.6 *
2. choice (n=114) 23.9±3.7 174.8±6.4 69.1±6.8 5.5±3.7
Difference between rst-choice and second-choice players *P<0.001.
BOJSEN MICHALSIK PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL
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THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
Gender differences
L  
Based on the present results, clear gender differ-
ences were observed in the locomotion activity pat-
tern of male vs. female elite TH players during actual
match-play. The locomotive match analysis revealed
that FP covered a greater total distance than MP also
when comparing full-time players. Additionally,
FP demonstrated a greater relative workload during
match-play than MP, but performed less amount of
high-intensity running per match compared to MP.
The greater total distance covered in spite of less
amount of high-intensity running with FP was par-
tially the result of signicant less time spent standing
still compared to MP. The latter contributed to that
FP showed a lower mean speed than MP, since the
mean speed was calculated without the contribution
of the standing still category. Furthermore FP dem-
onstrated fewer activity changes compared to MP.
During organized attack, FP appeared to play in a
relatively uniform pace with the players frequently
walking, but rarely standing still. Likewise, FP dem-
onstrated few intense tempo changes and changes in
direction accompanied by relatively few fast breaks
compared to MP. Consequently, the amount of high-
intensity running constituted only a small fraction of
TPT. On the other hand, numerous changes in ball
possession resulted in large amounts of transition
running involving rapid shifts between defence and
offence actions. Compared to MP, FP showed less
playing time spent in the organized attack explaining
the high occurrence of transition running between
offence and defence in these players.
Most likely, this was partly due to poorer technical
skills in FP compared to MP, which is reected by
the higher number of technical errors in FP (twice as
many technical errors per female player and hence
also per team compared to MP). A reason for this
observation may in part be due to gender differences
in the relative size of the players´ dominant hand
in relation to the size of the ball (“ball coverage in-
dex”, which indicates the percentage of the ball sur-
face that the player’s hand is able to cover). The ball
coverage is lower in adult elite female vs. male TH
players.
18
More technical errors cause more switch-
ing between offence and defence and results in more
continuous running with moderate intensity. The
high total distance covered and the low number of
fence and in defence than backcourt players and in
particular pivots.
Additionally, female wing players performed more
fast breaks (4.4±2.8) than pivots (2.5±1.8, P<0.01,
ES=0.81) and backcourt players (1.0±1.3, P<0.01,
ES=1.56), while male pivots (8.3±4.0) performed
just as many fast breaks as wing players (8.9±3.1)
and markedly more than backcourt players (3.4±3.2,
P<0.05, ES=1.35). Male backcourt players per-
formed more shots per match (10.5±3.4) than both
pivots (7.0±2.0, P<0.05, ES=1.25) and wing players
(5.8±2.5, P<0.005, ES=1.58) with similar scoring
percentage (42.0±14.6) as pivots (48.8±24.2) and
wing players (46.9±23.9). In contrast, no difference
between the numbers of shots per match between the
various playing positions among FP were observed,
but pivots had a higher mean scoring percent-
age (68.0±17.4, P<0.001) than backcourt players
(46.8±20.6, ES=1.11) and wing players (47.5±20.1,
ES=1.09).
For both sexes, wing players were lighter, smaller,
younger and less experienced on adult elite level
than the rest of the players including goalkeepers,
and pivots were heavier and taller than the rest of
the eld players. Body height and body mass did
not differ between rst and second choice players
in various playing positions for both MP and FP, but
rst-choice players were in almost all cases older
and more experienced than second choice players
(P<0.001) except for male pivots and female goal-
keepers, where no difference in age and playing
experience between the two choices of players was
demonstrated.
Discussion
This is the rst study to examine differences in the
physical demands in modern adult elite TH between
MP and FP by means of a complete working demand
analysis. The main ndings of the present study
were that substantial gender differences were ob-
served as MP demonstrated more physical, strength-
related confrontations with the opponents and per-
formed more high-intensity work than FP, whereas
FP showed a higher relative workload during match-
play compared to MP. Not surprisingly, systematic
anthropometric differences were observed between
the two sexes.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL BOJSEN MICHALSIK
Vol. 55 - No. 9 THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
887
spectively, of MP’s values. Nevertheless, based on
previous ndings in female vs. male elite soccer
players,
11, 19
where a positive correlation between
VO
2
-max and high-intensity running (an indicator
of high physical match performance) was observed
during female soccer games, whereas no such rela-
tionship was found in male elite soccer, maximal
aerobic power may be more important for physical
match performance in female elite team handball
players players compared to their male counterparts.
This may be explained by a lower anaerobic capacity
in female elite players.
MP and FP exercised with a mean relative work-
load of 71% and 79% of VO
2
-max during match-
play, respectively, despite the fact that low-intensity
activities (standing still and walking) constituted as
much as 73% and 76% of mean TPT, respectively.
Consequently, the amount of high-intensity, strength
related technical playing actions such as tackles,
claspings and one-to-one “in ght” situations ap-
peared to have a signicant inuence on the relative
workload in both genders without contributing sub-
stantially to the total distance covered.
P    

Both similarities and differences in the locomo-
tor prole were observed at the various playing po-
sitions. Female backcourt players were less active
with a low total distance covered and mean speed,
low amount of high-intensity running and fewer fast
breaks than the other playing positions. Male back-
court players were also from a locomotive point of
view the least active playing position, but with the
difference that male backcourt players covered a
high total distance due to they were relative more
constant in motion in offence with lower intensity
instead of standing still.
Conversely, female wing players had the high-
est total distance covered and mean speed, highest
amount of high-intensity running and performed the
most fast breaks and many retreats. Male wing play-
ers were also very active with the highest amount
of high-intensity running, but male backcourt play-
ers covered more total distance and worked with a
higher mean speed than wing players, and pivots
performed must as many fast breaks.
Female pivots covered a high total distance, be-
activity changes indicates that female elite TH play-
ers perform large amounts of un-interrupted running
during much of the match, resulting in a relatively
higher aerobic intensity. In contrast, the fewer fast
breaks and activity changes and thus shifts of tempo
and direction results in less anaerobic workloads be-
ing placed on the lower extremities.
Conversely, male elite TH players were character-
ized by a relatively steady pace of locomotion during
organized attack, with players frequently standing
still or walking. However, match-play still involved
numerous intense tempo changes and changes of
direction, which together with the relatively many
fast breaks caused high-intensity running to repre-
sent a relatively high fraction of total distance cov-
ered, altogether suggesting that the ability to change
pace and accelerate in specic game actions is very
important for playing performance. Male elite TH
match-play showed substantially more intermittent
activity pattern compared to female elite TH, re-
ected by the more than two-fold higher number of
activity changes in MP.
In result, male elite TH players were characterized
by a bimodal activity pattern that contained both a
markedly higher anaerobic load (more high-intensi-
ty running) and a lower aerobic load due to more
low-intensity activity compared to female elite TH
players. Notably, MP performed substantially more
sideways movement both in offence and defence
compared to FP, maybe due to need for high muscle
strength in the lower extremities in order to perform
fast sideway displacements carried out deep down in
the legs.
The size of the TH court (identical for both sexes)
is relatively bigger for FP compared to MP, given
the smaller body dimensions in the former players.
Possibly in partial consequence hereof, signicant
higher total distance covered and relative workload
was observed for FP during match-play. Further-
more, studies show that FP reach a VO
2
-max of just
less than 80% of the value achieved by MP, while
female TH players have a Fitness Index of 85% of
male elite TH players,
14
indicating a higher demand
for aerobic performance in the women’s game. The
data by Jensen et al. (2001) were collected in nation-
al TH players over a period of 10 years, suggesting
that their players were optimally physically trained.
However, in the present study VO
2
-max and the
Fitness index of FP constituted 86% and 79%, re-
BOJSEN MICHALSIK PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL
888
THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
of play with MP than with FP. Although the wom-
en’s game has become much more physical over the
last decades, a fundamental difference in the style
of play in modern elite TH still appears to exist be-
tween the two genders, which results in substantial
differences in the proportion of high-intense and
strength-related load vs. more aerobic loading pat-
terns during match-play.
A study of Norwegian elite TH players of both
sexes
20
found that during training the number of
serious knee injuries were almost similar with MP
and FP, but during match-play the incidence of these
injuries were seven times greater with FP compared
to MP. These observations indirectly suggest that the
intensity and aggressiveness during training is lower
in elite FP compared to elite MP. Consequently, FP
may experience a relatively mismatch to the physi-
cal demands imposed during elite match-play than
MP. Thus, the possibility exists that the daily train-
ing in female TH players may not be sufciently op-
timized in terms of intensity and functional move-
ment strength, potentially resulting in a less physical
oriented activity patterns during competitive match-
play.
For all players combined, there were no differ-
ence in age and playing experience between the two
genders, which is somewhat surprising considering
the possibility of an early TH career stop for FP
because of pregnancy and higher incidences of an-
terior cruciate ligament injury.
20
The former aspect
applies apparently not for female elite TH players,
which maybe gives birth in a higher age than the
average population or quickly are coming back on
the TH court after birth. Also the differences in body
anthropometry, age and experience on the various
playing positions and in addition between Danish
and foreign players were nearly identical for MP
and FP. Thus, the only real difference between the
two genders relates to the difference in the average
size of players.
D      
 
Although clear differences in the physical de-
mands between MP and FP were observed, compari-
son of individual activity patterns between the two
halves suggest that players of both sexes with a TPT
over 50 min per match were experiencing temporary
cause during offence and defence these players
showed only minor periods of standing still (~10%
of TPT). Instead they mostly walked or performed a
little running. In addition, they performed an aver-
age amount of high-intensity running and number of
fast breaks. In contrast, male pivots covered a low
total distance due to a high amount of standing still
(~40% of TPT). When moving, however, these play-
ers showed relative high mean speeds and performed
large amounts of high-intensity running with many
fast breaks and retreats. Thus, female pivots in gen-
eral appear to be more agile than their male coun-
terparts, however during their active periods male
pivots seem to move with greater intensity (higher
speed).
T     -

The technical match analysis revealed that both
in offence and defence the amount of high-intense
playing actions and physical confrontations with
opponents were markedly less for FP compared to
MP. The fewer high-intense, strength-related play-
ing actions suggest that with FP both the upper and
the lower extremities are exposed to a less anaerobic
load. Although a need still exist to work with high
intensity (anaerobic work) and using large physi-
cal strength in FP, this need appears to be much less
compared to MP. The differences between various
playing positions were almost similar in FP and MP,
and in both sexes wing players had considerable less
body contact in both offence and in defence than
both backcourt players and particularly pivots.
The differences presently observed in strength-
related playing actions conform to the differences in
anthropometry between the two sexes. MP showed
markedly higher body mass and body height than
their female counterparts. With substantially larg-
er, heavier and stronger players it is not surprising
that the amount of physical confrontations is higher
among MP. Larger and heavier MP takes up rela-
tively more space on the court. Consequently, this
increases the possibility of more physical confronta-
tions among MP.
With similar TH court size, FP simply takes up
relatively less space on the court. Moreover, in TH
as in many other ball games, there has always been
a tradition for a more physical and aggressive style
PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL BOJSEN MICHALSIK
Vol. 55 - No. 9 THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS
889
Practical applications
In modern elite team handball, the physical ca-
pacity of the players has a pivotal inuence on
playing performance. In the present study, clear
gender-specic differences in the physical demands
of modern elite team handball were demonstrated,
strongly suggesting that central areas of physical
training should be conducted differently in female
elite team handball compared to male elite team
handball. Thus, the present data suggest that female
players should focus relative more on aerobic train-
ing exercises and relative less on anaerobic training
drills and strength training. In contrast, male play-
ers should focus mostly on anaerobic training and
strength training, while aerobic training may be con-
sidered less important. Physical training in elite team
handball should comprise exercises for improving
players’ ability to repeatedly perform high-intensity
activities and to rapidly recover during less intense
periods. Furthermore, our positional analysis shows
that the planning of physical training should take the
playing position and the players’ individual capacity
into account, irrespectively of gender.
If the goal of physical development in female
players is to adopt a more intermittent, high-inten-
sive and aggressive playing style with an increased
number of physical confrontations with opponents
(i.e. similar to male players), it would seem, on the
other hand, a prerequisite that the daily physical
training in female elite team handball should com-
prise an increased amount of anaerobic training ele-
ments and an increased focus on strength training.
However, the two kinds of team handball will never
be identical, if the number of players during match-
play and the size of the court remains similar for the
two sexes, because male players are bigger and taller
than female players, and in general also have better
technical and tactical abilities in team handball.
Development in the anthropometry of elite team
handball players may also play a role for the devel-
opment of the game. Thus, the difference in body
height between the present male and female elite
team handball players (14.2 cm) was of approximate-
ly the same size as the difference between men and
women in same age group (20-35 years) in the Dan-
ish population (181.6 cm vs. 168.3 cm ~13.3 cm).
25
Conversely, the difference in body mass between the
present male and female elite team handball players
(22.2 kg) was markedly greater than the difference
fatigue during match-play, as reected by a decrease
in the amount of high-intensity running, HR, rela-
tive workload and in number of high-intense playing
actions during the second half. However, it was not
possible to establish, if the origin of the developed
fatigue was identical between the sexes, since spe-
cic fatigue factors were not directly assessed.
It cannot be excluded that the observed declines
in the analysed parameters during the second half
could be inuenced by situational variables such as
match location, quality level opposition and match
status, as previously indicated in elite soccer.
21-24
However, due to the large number of matches and
players analysed in male vs. female elite TH (62 vs.
46 matches of different tactical/strategic importance,
involving 82 vs. 83 analyzed players from several
different teams)
8
our results probably revealed a re-
alistic picture of the match-induced impairments in
physical performance in the second half.
Conclusions
In conclusion, the present study demonstrated
considerable gender-specic variations in the physi-
cal demands in modern adult elite team handball,
and in addition clearly indicated that the physical
demands differ greatly between various playing po-
sitions both in offence and in defence in the same
manner for both male and female elite players. Con-
sequently, physical training of female elite team
handball players may benet from a greater focus
on aerobic training elements. Conversely, male elite
team handball players would seem to benet from an
increased training focus on anaerobic exercise ele-
ments and strength training.
Alternatively, female elite team handball may be
developed into a more intermittent and high-inten-
sive game, with more physical confrontations with
opponents, i.e. converging towards the characteris-
tics of male elite team handball match-play. This ap-
proach would require female players in their daily
training routines to focus more intensively on the
areas of physical training that are pivotal to male
players (anaerobic training and strength training).
Regardless of gender, however, the planning and
execution of physical training should be individu-
ally adjusted to the specic playing position and the
players´ individual physical capacity.
BOJSEN MICHALSIK PHYSICAL DEMANDS IN ELITE TEAM HANDBALL
890
THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS September 2015
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in body mass between the two sexes reported for the
same age range in the Danish population (82.5 kg vs.
67.8 kg ~14.7 kg).
25
This indicates that female elite
team handball players may achieve further develop-
ments in muscle mass, in order to improve strength
and power performance during on-court training and
match-play.
It is important that the improvements achieved
by physical training can be transferred to the actual
team handball game on-court. Therefore, the train-
ing needs to be as functional as possible. Physical
training in team handball as an example should as
far as possible be performed on-court in game-like
simulations (i.e. with ball handling involved).
Perspectives
Due to an increasing intensity of the game, the
physical demands of modern elite team handball
during match-play plays a relatively larger role in
the players’ total performance capacity than decades
ago. Consequently, the specic design and imple-
mentation of physical training in team handball rep-
resent an essential tool to exploit and sustain player’s
technical and tactical qualities throughout an entire
game. In addition, an improved level of physical ca-
pacity enables players to train at increased intensity
and in achieving a large total quantity of training.
Increased focus on anaerobic (and intensive aerobic)
training elements also seems of relevance due to the
fact that at least some players seem to develop tem-
porary fatigue during the time course of match-play.
Physical training is only a supplement to the tech-
nical and tactical aspects of team handball training.
Therefore, it is a matter of utilizing the time for
physical training to the maximum. This is done by
adapting the training in specic relation to the quali-
ties of the individual player, to his/her playing posi-
tion on the eld as well as the need for restitution.
26
Total training dosage should also be individualized,
since the training load during uniform types of team
training may be appropriate for some players, but in-
adequately low or perhaps even too high for other
players.
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Acknowledgements.—We would like to thank the involved elite team
handball players and their respective clubs for their valuable participa-
tion, effort and engagement. The authors have no nancial, consultant,
institutional, or other relationships that might lead to bias or a conict
of interest.
Conicts of interest.—The authors certify that there is no conict of
interest with any nancial organization regarding the material discussed
in the manuscript.
Received on December 2, 2013.
Accepted for publication on June 14, 2014.
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... One group showed very large ES, three groups a large ES, five groups a moderate ES, eight groups with low ES, and three groups with zero ES. The one group that experienced the very large ES [61], consisted of handball players, which is beneficial to achieve more stimulus for the lower body through the physical demands in the sports [93]. They trained one session per week with maximal weight training with half squats and leg press with 4 sets and 6 repetitions. ...
... Of the remaining seven groups that recorded progressions in ES, two groups had a moderate ES, while the remining had low ESs, even though four of the experimental groups [84,85,87] contained athletes from ball sports, which provide an additional stimulus for specific adaptation [89][90][91][92][93][94]. The low progression that arises because of hypertrophy training could be a result of training being carried out without intending to achieve maximal speed. ...
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... The games are played indoors on a 20 m x 40 m court, with 7 players from each team (in the basic lineup, 6 field players and 1 goalkeeper), allowing for multiple substitutions during the 60 minutes of the game (divided to 2 halves). During the game, the players usually run around 4-5 km, and perform multiple high-intensity runs and sprints, as well as faults, as handball is a contact sport [7][8][9]. Two referees are nominated for each game, both of them are moving with the offensive and defensive actions of both teams [6]. ...
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Purpose: To evaluate the classification performance of a new method to individualize reference ranges for biomarkers of muscle recovery in elite handball. Methods: In a longitudinal observational study, creatine kinase (CK) and urea levels were assessed in 16 male elite handball players during the 2019-20 preseason. Blood samples were collected at prespecified time points when players were considered either recovered or nonrecovered. Initially, linear mixed-effects models were calculated, as outlined in the study design, to examine the effect of recovery status on CK and urea levels. Finally, a fixed-effect model was calculated for urea based on the law of parsimony. Individualized reference ranges were calculated using a recently published algorithm. To investigate whether the individualized approach resulted in a more accurate classification of recovery status (recovered or nonrecovered), it was compared with a group-based approach derived from the same data set, utilizing predefined error rates. Results: Linear mixed-effects models showed a large effect of recovery status on CK (P < .001, d = 3.49) and a small effect on urea (P = .018, d = 0.382). In contrast to CK (P = .017), urea had no significant interindividual variation. Hence, individualization was examined only for CK. The numerical decrease in both CK error rates by the individualized approach was significant for the test-pass error rate (P = .0196, ϕ = .19). Conclusions: Our findings underscore the critical role of CK for monitoring in team sports such as handball. The observed improvement in CK error rates suggests a promising opportunity to individualize biochemical monitoring, although further studies encompassing larger sample sizes are warranted.
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Amaç: Kısa süreli yüksek şiddetli aktiviteler içeren hentbolda fiziksel ve fizyolojik özellikler ile atış hızı parametrelerinde cinsiyet farkı açıkça gösterilmiştir. Bu tür performans parametreleri dışında branşa ait gerçek zamanlı maç verisi elde etmek metodolojik kısıtlılıklar içermektedir. Ancak, son dönemde giyilebilir teknolojilerle kapalı alan takım sporlarında oyuncu yükünü daha detaylı incelemek mümkündür. Bu çalışmanın amacı hentbolda maç sırasında oyuncu yükünü kadın ve erkek oyuncularda pozisyonlara göre karşılaştırmaktır.Yöntem: Çalışmaya hazırlık turnuvasına katılan 2 erkek ve 2 kadın toplam 4 Türkiye Hentbol Süper Lig takımından 42 saha oyuncusu (20 kadın ve 22 erkek) gönüllü olarak katılmıştır. Kaleciler ve toplam oyun süresi 10 dakikanın altında kalan saha oyuncuları analize dahil edilmemiştir. Müsabaka öncesi kişiye tanımlanmış İnersiyal Ölçüm Ünitesi (IMU) sensörleri (OptimEye S5, Catapult Sports, Avustralya) firmanın özel yeleği ile üst gövde arkasına sabitlenmiş ve kalp atım hızı monitörizasyonu için göğüs bandı (Polar T31 Coded, Finlandiya) takılmıştır. Toplanan verilerde sporcu değişimi (yedek bankında geçen süre) ve oyun duraksamaları (aktif oyun süresi) firmanın yazılımıyla (OpenField, Catapult Sports, Avustralya) işaretlenerek filtrelenmiştir.Bulgular: Her iki cinsiyet için aktif oyun süreleri benzer olmasına rağmen oyuncu yükü ve kalp atım hızı yanıtları arasında anlamlı fark bulunmuştur. Kadın hentbolcularda toplam oyuncu yükü ve ortalama oyuncu yükü erkeklere göre daha yüksek iken erkek hentbolcularda pik oyuncu yükü istatistiksel olarak daha yüksek bulunmuştur (265.50±93.06 PL total, 255.80±81.59 PL total; 8.30±1.27 PL/dak, 8.07±1.64 PL/dak). Benzer olarak oyuncu yükü yoğunluk bölgelerinde erkekler kadınlara göre düşük seviye bölgelerde daha az, yüksek seviye bölgelerde daha çok oyuncu yükü eforu göstermiştir. İç yük yanıtları kadın hentbolcuların kalp atım hızı tükenme parametresinde erkeklere göre anlamlı yüksek bulunmuştur.Sonuç: Bu araştırma bulguları hentbol branşındaki çoğu anahtar performans belirteçlerindeki cinsiyet farkının maç sırasında oyuncu yükünde de literatürle uyumlu olarak anlamlı farklılıklar olduğunu göstermiştir. Ancak, daha yüksek sayıda maçın dahil edildiği ve rekabetin daha yüksek olduğu lig düzeyindeki maçlardan toplanacak verilere ihtiyaç duyulmaktadır.
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Background: Concurrent strength and endurance training could interfere with adaptation, which primarily affects long-term strength development. However, so far, research on this theme has rarely focused on ways to optimize concurrent strength and endurance training in team sports. Objectives: This paper aims to summarize the literature on the effects of concurrent training on aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways as well as strength and jump performance measures in team sports (invasion games) to provide recommendations for its application. Methods: A systematic literature review according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines was conducted. Various reliable sources with only experimental studies investigating the effect of concurrent training on sport-specific performance measures in team sports (invasion games) were included. Two researchers independently evaluated the risk of bias with the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale. Results: From 1649 records, 24 were included: 12 in children/adolescents ( n = 428; aged up to 18 years) and 12 in adults ( n = 620; aged 19–30 years), respectively. Thirteen of 24 studies reported improved endurance (V˙O 2max , YoYoIR) and strength (CMJ, SJ and 1RM) performance by adding additional resistance training in young and adult team sport players with different training status, and nine of 24 studies reported more pronounced interference effects in older and more experienced players. Discussion: Concurrent training can improve endurance and strength performance in team sports athletes. However, it is revealed that concurrent training can lead to diminished effects, which might be minimized by extended recovery time between sessions, adapted sequencing order and endurance exercise modality. With maturity and developing training status, an increased importance of these variables was documented.
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