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A Journal on Applied Physiology, Biomechanics, Preventive Medicine,
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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2016 January-February;56(1-2):19-26

Copyright © 2016 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Physical and physiological characteristics of male handball players: influence of playing position and competitive level

Thomas A. HAUGEN 1, 2, Espen TØNNESSEN 1, Stephen SEILER 2

1 Norwegian Olympic Federation, Oslo, Norway; 2 University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway


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BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to quantify differences in anthropometrical and physical characteristics according to playing position and competitive level in male elite handball.
METHODS: One hundred and seventy-six national team and 1st division players (age 23±4 years, body mass 89±11 kg, body height 188±5 cm) participated in the study. All participants were tested on throwing velocity, 20-meter sprint, countermovement jump, 3000-meter run, 1RM squat and bench press.
RESULTS: Back players achieved higher throwing velocities compared to other positions. National team back players achieved higher velocities in set shots (9.4%, P<0.001, d=1.5) and jump shots (8.1%, P<0.001, d=1.5) than 1st division players. Wings sprinted faster than pivots (3.5%, P<0.001, d=1.2) and goalkeepers (5.4%, P<0.001, d=1.2). Wings jumped higher than pivots (13.0%, P<0.001, d=1.0) and goalkeepers (11.4%, P=0.003, d=0.9). National team back players ran faster than 1st division back players over 3000 meters (4.9%, P=0.011, d=0.7). Back players showed better relative strength in squat than pivots (12.1%, P=0.016, d=0.7). Wings had better relative strength in squat that pivots (17.4%, P=0.001, d=1.0) and goalkeepers (13.1%, P=0.016, d=0.8). Pivots were 8.9% stronger than wing players (P=0.044, d=0.7) in 1RM bench press.
CONCLUSIONS: Varying on-court demands in handball are reflected by different physical and physiological characteristics across playing standard and positions. Physical conditioning of players should therefore be individualized and targeted to solve the position-dependent tasks during play.

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Cite this article as

Haugen TA, Tønnessen E, Seiler S. Physical and physiological characteristics of male handball players: influence of playing position and competitive level. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2016 January-February;56(1-2):19-26. 

Corresponding author e-mail

thomas.haugen@olympiatoppen.no