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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 May;55(5):415-29. Epub 2014 Jan 9.

Physiological capacity and physical testing in male elite team handball.

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Section of Sport Science, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark -



The aim of the present study was to examine the physical demands placed on male elite team handball players in relation to playing position.


Male elite team handball field players were evaluated during match-play over a six season time span using physiological measurements and by subsequent physical testing.


Mean heart rate and relative workload during match-play (N.=41) were 163 ± 5 beats·min⁻¹ (group means±SD) and 70.9 ± 6.0% of VO(2-max), respectively. Relative workload was lower (P<0.01) in the second half vs. the first (66.3 ± 5.9% vs. 75.4 ± 5.6% of VO(2-max)). Post-match blood lactate concentration was 4.8 ± 1.9 mM (range: 2.8-10.8 mM). Mean fluid loss was 0.81 ± 0.41 l pr. match. Mean VO(2max) was 5.18 ± 0.66 l O2·min-1 corresponding to 57.0 ± 4.1 mL O₂·min⁻¹·kg⁻¹. Mean total running distance in the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test (level 2) was 895 ± 184 m (range: 520-1360 m), which was greater in wing players (975 ± 123 m) than backcourt players (897 ± 108 m) and pivots (827 ± 264 m) (P<0.05). Fastest 30-m sprint time was 4.09 ± 0.12 s (range: 3.87-4.28 s). The repeated sprint test (7 x 30 m) yielded a mean fatigue index of -8.1 ± 2.7 %. Maximal jumping height in "Jump and Reach" testing was 0.71 ± 0.08 m (range: 0.61-0.86 m). Maximal ball throwing speed was observed using the set shot with 3-step run-up (92.8 ± 5.3 km·h⁻¹, range: 75.8-108.2 km·h⁻¹).


Modern male elite team handball imposes moderate-to-high demands on the aerobic energy system and high demands on the anaerobic energy systems during certain periods of the match. Indications of temporary fatigue and a subsequent decline in performance were observed, since the relative workload decreased both in the first and in the second half of the match. Physiological profiles and physical test results differed between playing positions, with wing players covering a greater total distance in the Yo-Yo test and showing superior jumping performance and repeated sprint running capacity than backcourt players and pivots.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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