Handball is an Olympic sport played indoors by 6 court players and 1 goalkeeper with rolling substitutions. Limited data exist on elite players competing in a world championship, and virtually no information exists on the evolution of time–motion performance over the course of a long tournament.
To analyze time–motion characteristics of elite male handball players of the last world championships, played in Qatar in 2015.
384 handball players from 24 national teams.
The athletes were analyzed during 88 matches using a tracking camera system and bespoke software (Prozone Handball v. 1.2, Prozone, Leeds, UK).
The average time on court (N = 2505) during the world championships for all players was 36:48 ± 20:27 min. Goalkeepers and left and right wings were on court most of the playing time (GK 43.00 ± 25:59 min; LW 42:02 ± 21:07 min; RW 43:44 ± 21:37 min). The total distance covered during each game (2607.5 ± 1438.4 m) consisted mostly of walking and jogging. The cumulative distance covered during the tournament was 16,313 ± 9423.3 m. Players performed 857.2 ± 445.7 activity changes with a recovery time of 124.3 ± 143 s. The average running pace was 78.2 ± 10.8 m/min. There was no significant difference between high-ranked and lower-ranked teams in terms of distance covered in different locomotion categories.
Specific physical conditioning is necessary to maximize performance of handball players and minimize the occurrence of fatigue when performing in long tournaments.