Programming high-intensity training in handball

Handball is called a ‘transition game’ because players frequently switch between defensive and offensive play, and the game action is characterised by frequent intermittent running and sprinting. Technical skills, anthropometric characteristics and high levels of strength, muscle power and throwing velocity are the most important factors for gaining a clear advantage for successful participation at elite levels of handball leagues1,2. However, the importance of aerobic capacity should not be underestimated. During match play, players run about 4 to 6 km3 at a mean intensity close to 80 to 90% of maximal heart rate (HR)4. Significant associations between maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and playing level have also been shown1,2. In fact, elite players have to repeat more than 120 high-intensity actions during a game3; thus, a well-developed aerobic system is likely to be beneficial for metabolic recovery between these efforts5,6. In terms of the methods used to enhance aerobic fitness, high-intensity training (HIT) has been shown to induce substantial improvements in maximal aerobic capacity and endurance performance7-9. In addition to the classic long intervals (1 to 4 minutes) and short intervals (10 to 60 seconds, interspersed with passive to low-intensity activity), the use of sprints and all-out efforts have also emerged in team sports5,10. These particularly intense forms of HIT include repeated-sprint training (RST) (in which sprints last from 3 to 7 seconds, interspersed with recovery periods lasting generally less than 60 seconds) or sprint-interval training (SIT) (30-second all-out efforts interspersed with 2 to 4 minute passive recovery periods). However, since running-based training can be perceived as unpleasant by players, and because maintaining technical skills is essential for successful handball performance, the interest in small-sided handball games has increased as an alternative means of improving players’ aerobic power/capacity. Through using this type of training, training time with the ball is maximised, while still maintaining other important handball components, such as agility, reaction time and hand-eye co-ordination. Further, training motivation remains high11-13. In this paper, the integration of the different HIT formats in handball will be discussed and examples of their practical implementation in the field will be examined. This paper will also consider their respective effectiveness for improving the high-intensity intermittent running capacity and repeated-sprint performance in highly-trained young players.
© Copyright 2014 ASPETAR Sports Medicine Journal. All rights reserved.

Subjects: handball training planning training session load intensity load volume training aerobic performance capacity
Notations: sport games
Tagging: HIT
Published in: ASPETAR Sports Medicine Journal
Published: 2014
Volume: 3
Issue: TT3
Pages: 120-128
Document types: article
Language: English
Level: advanced