Biology of Sport
eISSN: 2083-1862
ISSN: 0860-021X
Biology of Sport
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vol. 38
Original paper

Monitoring external load in elite male handball players depending on playing positions

Roger Font
1, 2, 3
Claude Karcher
4, 5
Xavier Reche
Gerard Carmona
1, 3
Victor Tremps
Alfredo Irurtia
6, 7

  1. Sport Performance Area FC Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC), University of Barcelona (UB), Barcelona, Spain
  3. School of Health Sciences, Tecnocampus, Pompeu Fabra University, Mataró, Spain
  4. University of Strasbourg, Faculty of Medicine, Mitochondria, Oxidative Stress and Muscular Protection laboratory (EA 3072), Strasbourg, France
  5. University of Strasbourg, Faculty of Sport Sciences, European Centre for Education, Research and Innovation in Exercise Physiology (CEERIPE), Strasbourg, France
  6. INEFC-Barcelona Sport Sciences Research Group, National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC), University of Barcelona (UB), Barcelona, Spain
  7. Catalan School of Kinanthropometry, National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC), University of Barcelona (UB), Barcelona, Spain
Biol Sport. 2021;38(3):475–481
Online publish date: 2020/12/31
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Monitoring workload is critical for elite training and competition, as well as preventing potential sports injuries. The assessment of external load in team sports has been provided with new technologies that help coaches to individualize training and optimize their team’s playing system. In this study we characterized the physical demands of an elite handball team during an entire sports season. Novel data are reported for each playing position of this highly strenuous body-contact team sport. Sixteen world top players (5 wings, 2 centre backs, 6 backs, 3 line players) were equipped with a local positioning system (WIMU PRO) during fourteen official Spanish first league matches. Playing time, total distance covered at different running speeds, and acceleration variables were monitored. During a handball match, wings cover the greater distance by highspeed running (> 5.0 m·s-1): 410.3 ± 193.2 m, and by sprint (> 6.7 m·s-1): 98.0 ± 75.4 m. Centre backs perform the following playing position that supports the highest speed intensities during the matches: highspeed running: 243.2 ± 130.2 m; sprint: 62.0 ± 54.2 m. Centre backs also register the largest number of high-intensity decelerations (n = 142.7 ± 59.5) compared to wings (n = 112.9 ± 56.0), backs (n = 105.2 ± 49.2) and line players: 99.6 ± 28.9). This study provides helpful information for professional coaches and their technical staff to optimize training load and individualize the physical demands of their elite male handball players depending on each playing position.

Training load, Accelerometer, Match analysis, Handball, IMU, Workload

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