USA Team Handball Men's National Program Building Champions - Creating Depth

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1 USA Team Handball Men's National Program Building Champions - Creating Depth Minimum Fitness Requirements for USA Team Handball Men s Senior National Team Written by Thomas Kekes-Szabo, USATH Sport Science and Technology Committee and Cristian Zaharia, Head Coach, USATH Men s Senior National Team Introduction USA Team Handball Men s Program has undertaken the task of increasing the level of athlete performance and international competitiveness of the Senior Men s team. American athletes are strong and solid competitors within the United States, however they are not yet at the elite level of world-class competition that is necessary to successfully and consistently compete at World Championships and Olympic Games. This program of minimum fitness requirements, based on the most successful programs in the world, is one component of athlete development designed to help athletes reach peak performance and be successful competitors on the international level. Athletes are challenged to improve their physical conditioning and become truly world-class competitors. Selected Tests and Minimum Standards The developed test battery uses relatively simple, handball-specific field-testing to evaluate the performance potential. These tests are specially designed to measure the predominant actions during the game. The tests will be used as a comparison and standardized tool providing valuable information to the coaching staff during the preparatory phase. The minimum standards of the particular tests are based on available literature published in countries with very strong team handball traditions using top-level players and on previous fitness testing performed on US national team players. Using the Testing Reference Chart, an athlete can see where his performance falls in a scale of comparison with top European athletes, National team athletes, National Team minimum requirements and failure to meet minimums. These tests and minimum requirements have been designed to help current and future athletes understand exactly how to prepare themselves and improve their performance on the team and on the court. By working to improve individual performance, an athlete is better positioned to qualify for and remain active with the Senior Men s National Team.

2 2 MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS The following five tests are included in the minimum requirements and producing a test result within the required range for each test is mandatory for each player regardless of age, years of experience, and position played. 1. Aerobic power (The Cooper test) Justification: The Cooper test is used to test aerobic power, therefore, this is the only test in the battery that is not specific to team handball. However, the test measures the athlete's general aerobic endurance, i.e. the ability to take in, deliver, and use oxygen. Maximum oxygen uptake (VO 2max ) can be estimated since there is a correlation of.90 between the distance covered in 12 minutes and the maximum oxygen uptake of the individual. Objective: The aim of the test is to run as far as possible in exactly 12 minutes. Instructions/Required resources: To undertake the test you will require an outdoor or indoor 400 or 200- meter track, a stopwatch and an assistant if possible. Important: if you don't have access to a 400 or 200- meter track you need to obtain the exact length of the track. Place marks (e.g. cones) at every 50 meters or 50 yards on the track. At the end of the 12 th minute the assistant gives an audio signal and the subject must stop immediately. The total distance should be recorded to the nearest 50 meters or 50 yards. The minimum requirement is between m (~ 3,200-3,300 yards) 2. Anaerobic endurance (6 x 30-meter sprint test) Justification: A 6 x 30-meter sprint test is administered to measure the athlete's anaerobic endurance. Time is measured and velocity, maximum, minimum, and average power, and the Fatigue Index are calculated from the test. Maximum power is a measure of the highest power output and provides information about strength and maximal sprint speed. Minimum power output achieved is used to calculate the Fatigue Index. Average power indicates the athlete's ability to maintain power over time. Higher scores indicate better ability to maintain anaerobic performance during games. The Fatigue Index indicates the rate at which power declines for the athlete. Lower values indicate higher ability for athletes to maintain anaerobic performance. A high (> 10) fatigue index indicates the need to focus on lactate tolerance. Objective: To sprint 6 x 30 meters at maximum speed using a standing sprint start. A fifteen-second turnaround time is allowed between the sprints. Instructions/Required resources: To undertake the test two lines need to be placed 30 meters apart and parallel to each other. You will use a standing sprint start position. The time is recorded to the 1/100 of a second accuracy. The fifteen-second turn-around time must be strictly respected and the player must be ready at the starting line by the end of the 15-sec break. The minimum requirement is that the mathematical average of the six results must be between sec.

3 3. Agility (The Defensive Triangle test) 3 Justification: The Defensive Triangle test is performed to measure agility. The test is a handball specific agility test designed for defense. During the test the athlete has to change directions as quickly as possible. Time is measured to the tenth of a second and the better of two runs is considered. Objective: To move on the sides of a 3-meter triangle as quickly as possible always facing an imaginary attacker. The subject is not allowed to turn his back towards the 9-m line. Instructions/Required resources: Mark the ends of the 3-m straight line of the six-meter zone preparing the base of the triangle. From the middle of the 3-m line raise a perpendicular line to the nine-meter line. Facing the nine-meter line the right mark on the six-meter line is point A; the other mark on the six-meter line is point B. Point C is on the nine-meter line (see Figure 1). C B A Start with your right foot on point A; go and touch point C with right foot and continue to point B and touch with your left foot; continue towards point A and touch it with your right foot. On the way back from point A towards point B touch it with your left foot then point C with your left and then point A with your right foot. This footwork must be repeated three times. Remember, point A is never crossed it is the starting and finishing point! The short version with the help of the letters will look like this: A>C>B>A>B>C>A + A>C>B>A>B>C>A + A>C>B>A>B>C>A. In other words, a turn is considered complete when the player has touched all corners of the triangle with his feet by going all the way in one direction until touching the starting point (point A) again. That gives 6 points to touch. The player performs the move three times for a total of 18 points to be touched. The stopwatch starts on the first move of the player and is stopped only after the player touches the last point of the triangle. The better result of the two runs is considered for the minimum requirement. It must be between seconds. 4. The 30-m dribbling test Justification: Players need to control the ball while changing directions (e.g., during fast breaks). Objective: To run the 30 meters while dribbling the ball in a regular team handball manner slaloming through the cones. The ball needs to be controlled by the player at all times from start to finish. Athletes are not allowed to throw the ball or catch it and run to the finish line. Instructions/Required resources: There will be seven cones placed on the length of a 30-m field; the first cone is set at a 6-m distance from the starting line and the seventh cone is set at a 6-m distance from the finish line. There will be another five cones set between these two cones at 3 meter intervals. (Figure 2).

4 4 The 30-m dribbling test, continued Start Line Line Finish X X X X X X X 6 m 3 meters between each of the seven cones 6 m The field length is 30 meters. The result of two runs is recorded to the tenth of a second and the better time is taken into consideration. The minimum requirement is that the better result of the two times must be between seconds. 5. Ball-throw Justification: The player s ability to combine dynamic movements with upper body strength is necessary to perform this test. Objective: To throw the ball as far as possible with a 3-step launch. Instructions/Required resources: A regular senior men s ball is used. A throwing line is drawn and lines need to be marked at each 50 cm over 37 meters up to 60 meters. The ball will be thrown with a 3-step launch. The player is not allowed to cross the throwing line. The results are rounded to the nearest 50 cm. For example, if the result is m, the record will be m. If the result is m the record will be m. The better result of the two attempts will be considered. The minimum requirement is that the better of two throws must be between 42.0 and 45.0 meters.

5 5 TESTING REFERENCE CHART The following chart will be used to score the results of the physical tests. How to use the chart: 1) Find and circle your test results. Please note: since the sprint results are measured to 1/100 of a second you need to round up or down the digits for the sprints following this rule: 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 need to be round up, 1, 2, 3, and 4 need to be round down. For example if the average of the six sprints is 4.17 you should circle 4.2. If the average is 4.12 you should circle ) Find the number of points you receive for each test result. 3) Your overall score is the sum of the five scores of your test results. The ultimate goal is to achieve results in each test that are comparable to top-level European standards, i.e. to score at least 80 points in each test to have an overall score of 400 or higher. Color-coding: Top European level (401 points and above) EURO National team level ( points) NAT Minimum requirements ( points) MIN Below senior men s national team level (less than 200 points) Below

6 Points Cooper test (meters) Sprints average (sec) Triangle Test (sec) Dribbling Test (sec) Ball throw (m) Level EURO NAT

7 MIN Below

8 8 FURTHER RECOMMENDATIONS The following three tests will be also measured with a recommended range for each measure. 1) Jumping ability (the vertical jump test) Justification: Leg strength and power are related to the vertical jumping ability, which is an important parameter for some of the positions. Objective: The goal is to jump vertically from a flat-footed position using a double leg take-off. The better of two jumps is considered. Instructions/Required resources: The wall is marked in increments of half inches from 6' 6'' to 12' 2''. The athlete faces the wall with toes as close to the wall as possible and the feet are flat on the floor. First the athlete reaches with both hands as high as he can along the wall. With the middle finger of both hands at the same level the highest point is marked with a chalk. The distance from the floor to this mark is the player's Stand-and-Reach Height in inches. The player jumps off of both feet and marks the wall at the highest point (Maximum Height Reached). The mark can be made with chalk using the preferred hand. The better of the two jumps is calculated in inches. To calculate the vertical jump, the stand-and-reach height is subtracted from the maximum height reached in inches. The recommended range is between inches. 2) Maximum running speed (the best of six sprints) The best 30-meter sprint result is used to determine maximum running velocity. It is recommended that the best sprint result of the six runs should be in the sec range. 3) Body composition (lean mass/body fat ratio) Justification: It is necessary to monitor the changes in the athlete's lean mass/body fat ratio. A Lange skinfold caliper is used to measure skinfolds at three sites: chest, abdomen, and mid-thigh. Body fat percentage is estimated from the sum of the three skinfold measurements. Body weight is measured to the nearest half pound and standing height to the nearest half inch. The recommended range for body fat is between 4-10%.

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