The aim of this study was to examine possible discriminant physical and physiological characteristics between elite male handball players from elite teams with different league rankings. Players from three teams (A, B and C), which competed in the first league of the Greek championship during the season 2011-2012 participated in the study. Team A finished first, B came second and C came eighth out of eleven clubs. Teams A and B also participated in European Cups, and team A won the European Challenge Cup. The players (n=44) were examined for anthropometric characteristics and performed a series of physical fitness tests. Players from teams A and B were taller (6.2 cm (0.7;11.7), mean difference (95% CI) and 9.2 cm (4.0;14.5), respectively), and had a higher amount of fat free mass (6.4 kg (1.1;11.8) and 5.4 kg (0.2;10.5)) compared to those of team C. Players from team A performed better than players from team C in the squat jump (5.5 cm (1.0;10.0)), the countermovement jump without (5.5 cm (0.4;10.6)) and with armswing (6.0 cm (0.7;11.3)) and in the 30 s Bosco test (5.7 W.kg-1 (1.2;10.2)). Also, players from team A outperformed team B in mean power during the Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT, 0.5 W.kg-1(0;0.9)) and in the Bosco test (7.8 W.kg-1 (3.4;12.2)). Overall, players from the best ranked team performed better than the lowest ranked team on WAnT, vertical jumps and the Bosco test. Stepwise discriminant analysis showed that stature and mean power during the Bosco test were the most important characteristics in TH players, accounting for 54.6% of the variance in team ranking. These findings indicate the contribution of particular physical fitness components (stature, fat free mass and anaerobic power) to excellence in TH. In addition, the use of the Bosco test as an assessment tool in talent identification and physical fitness monitoring in this sport is further recommended.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.