Throwing is one of the most important skills in team
handball [Mikelsen and Olesen 1976, Joris et al.1985, Eliasz et al.1990, Muijen et
al.1991,Marczinka 1993]. Two basic factors are of importance with regard to the efficiency
of shots: accuracy and throwing velocity. Naturally, the faster the ball is thrown at the
goal, the less time defenders and goalkeeper have to save the shot. Handball coaches and
scientists who have investigated overarm throwing are in agreement that the main
determinants of the ball velocity can be divided into three groups concerning technique of
motion, somatic features and motor ability (physical fitness), respectively [Pauwels 1978,
Eliasz et al.1990, Muijen et al.1991]. Although the technique of motion and the fitness
level can be improved by the training process [Eliasz 1993], morphological factors are, in
the main part, determined genetically. Since changes in the throwing technique among
high-performance players are very small, it was assumed as constant during short period of
The aim of the research was to find the relationships
between the ball velocity during different types of throws in handball and basic motor
ability parameters (muscle strength, arm speed) of players, in order to improve the
efficiency of training. MATERIAL AND METHODS
Twelve high-performance handball players took part in the
experiment (six of them were at that moment members of the National Team). The average
values of basic parameters of physical characteristics of the subjects were: 89.07.8 kg
(body mass), 1.880.05 m (body height) and 23.32.5 years of age. The Shapiro-Wilk test,
Pearson's correlation matrix and multiple regression analysis were used (a=0.05).
Measurement of the ball velocity
In order to assess the overarm throwing performance, a
standard handball was used (mass 480 g, circumference 58 cm). The subjects were instructed
to throw the ball as fast as possible at a target (50 x 50 cm) placed at a distance of
about 6 meters [Pauwels 1978, Eliasz et al.1990]. Each subject performed trials until
three registered throws (i.e. when the ball hit the target) were achieved. The average
linear ball velocity was measured over a 2 meter distance using a special photocells
system [Eliasz et al.1990]. Handballers performed three of the most popular types of
throws: on the spot, with a cross-over step and with an upward jump [Marczinka 1993]. Each
session was preceded by 10-minute standard warm-up.
Measurement of the muscle torques under static conditions
The muscle strength was evaluated on the basis of the sum
of muscle torques developed by main muscle groups under static conditions (ISI - isometric
strength indicator). In the measurements was used the isometric muscle torque stand (local
make), which enabled the direct measuring of torques for flexors and extensors of elbow,
shoulder, knee and hip joints and flexors and extensors of trunk. Angle positions for all
joints were 90 deg (with 180 deg meaning full extension) with the exception of shoulder
joint (45 deg). The stand enabled to measure each group of muscles with simultaneous
elimination of the influence of any other forces on the result [Jaszczuk et al.1987].
Measurement of the muscle torque under dynamic conditions
The measurements were carried out on the Ariel Computerized
Exercise System ACES modified in its mechanical part (the
Arm-Leg Station). Subjects performed simulated throws in the sitting position, propelling
the bar of the Arm-Leg Station [Ariel 1991]. The movement was similar to the last phase
before the release of the ball during a real throw. Each subject executed three kinds of
tests: maximal speed diagnostic (MSD), isokinetic exercises (IKE) at angular velocities
100, 300 and 500 deg/s, isotonic exercises (ITE) at external torques 10, 30 and 50 Nm.
The following parameters were chosen to further the
analysis: maximal angular velocity of the bar measured during MSD, maximal and average
mechanical power during IKE and ITE, maximal and average torque developed in IKE, maximal
and average angular velocity measured in ITE.
The maximal mechanical power of the lower extremity and
trunk was measured during the vertical counter-movement jump performed on a force platform
[Dowling and Vamos 1993]. The signal (force) was processed on-line (IBM PC). Five
parameters were chosen in order to estimate speed-strength characteristics of the lower
extremity of the handball players: Pmax-maximal mechanical power [W], Pave-average
mechanical power [W], Hmax-maximal height of the jump [m], t-time of the take-off [s],
P/m-maximal power related to body mass [W/kg].
The highest value of linear throwing velocity the ball has
achieved after throw with cross-over step and the differences between this value and
velocities measured during throws on the spot and with an upward jump were statistically
significant. The results are shown in Table 1 Tab.1. Maximal value of ball velocity [m/s]
during different types of throwing (mean values for n=12).
Among many different throws in team handball the most often
used during the game is throw with an upward jump [Eliasz et al.1990, Marczinka 1993].
Although the ball velocity measured after this kind of throw does not reach the highest
value (see Tab.1) and throwing technique is far more complicated then that of the other
analyzed throws jump [Eliasz et al.1990, Marczinka 1993], the popularity of throw with
jump is due to its efficiency [Eliasz 1993]. The ball velocity values showed in Table 1
are similar to those which have been obtained by others [Mikelsen and Olesen 1976, Filiard
1985, Eliasz et al.1990], even though the average velocity was measured along two meters
distance and the first photocell gate was placed two meters from the thrower. The maximal
value of the ball velocity can be measured during release using radar [Mikelsen and Olesen
1976, Pedegana et al.1982, Filiard 1985, Bartlet et al.1989] or cinematography (especially
3-D), which is a very time-consuming but still popular method in biomechanics [Atwater
1980, Filiard 1985, Joris et al.1985, Feltner and Dapena 1986, Muijen et al.1991, Best et
al.1993, Coleman et al.1993, Sakuraj et al. 1993, Whiting et al.1993].
The highest value of ball velocity measured during throw
with a cross-over step can be explain on biomechanical basis. During this type of throw
the motion direction of player's center of gravity is consistent with the direction of
ball flight, so it has an initial velocity before release. The results of strength
assessments (both under static and dynamic conditions) can not be directly compared to
others results because the unconventional measurements procedure was applied.
Many researchers who have investigated an overarm throw,
have indicated that muscle strength is a very important factor influencing throwing
velocity [Pauwels 1978, Pedegana et al.1982, Amin et al.1985, Pawlowski and Perrin 1989,
Renne et al.1990, Wooden et al.1992, Bartlet et al.1993, Eliasz 1993, Marczinka 1993]. In
this work statistical analysis has shown that the muscle strength of trunk flexors is one
of the most significant velocity determinant in analyzed throws (this variable is in all
presented equations). There are abdominal muscles: rectus abdominis, external and internal
oblique muscles. All these muscles, acting together, are involved in forward bending but
trunk rotation is caused by one-side shortening action of external and internal oblique
muscles. Both type of motions can be observed during throwing before release [Atwater
1980, Joris et al.1985, Eliasz 1993, Marczinka 1993].
The investigation has some practical applications. There
are two main possibilities to improve throwing velocity, probably in all techniques used
in handball: (1) by development abdominal muscles strength and (2) by improvement speed of
external and internal rotation at shoulder joint. The last can be achieved, for example,
by using a lighter ball during training [Joris et al.1985, Eliasz 1993]. All these
statements need practical verification in the training process.
- 1. Statistically significant differences were found between
maximal ball velocity during throws with a cross-over step, and ball velocities during
other analyzed throws. The highest ball velocity was achieved during the throw with a
cross-over step performed by play-makers.
- 2. Among the motor ability factors, total muscle strength of
the body (ISI), strength of trunk flexors (abdominal muscles) and maximal arm (shoulder
joint) angular velocity (MSD) have a decisive effect on the ball velocity in analyzed
- 3. The maximal arm speed is the most important factor
determining ball velocity during - technically the simplest - throw on the spot. Muscle
strength has greater influence on ball velocity during - technically more complicated -
throw with an upward jump.
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