A New Physical Performance Classification System for Elite Handball Players: Cluster Analysis

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Iker J. Bautista, Ignacio J. Chirosa, Joseph E. Robinson,. Roland van der Tillaar, Luis J. Chirosa, Isidoro Martinez Martin

The aim of the present study was to identify different cluster groups of handball players according to their physical performance level assessed in a series of physical assessments, which could then be used to design a training program based on individual strengths and weaknesses, and to determine which of these variables best identified elite performance in a group of under-19 [U19] national level handball players. Players of the U19 National Handball team (n=16) performed a set of tests to determine: 10 m (ST10) and 20 m (ST20) sprint time, ball release velocity (BRv), countermovement jump (CMJ) height and squat jump (SJ) height. All players also performed an incremental-load bench press test to determine the 1 repetition maximum (1RMest), the load corresponding to maximum mean power (LoadMP), the mean propulsive phase power at LoadMP (PMPPMP) and the peak power at LoadMP (PPEAKMP). Cluster analyses of the test results generated four groupings of players. The variables best able to discriminate physical performance were BRv, ST20, 1RMest, PPEAKMP and PMPPMP. These variables could help coaches identify talent or monitor the physical performance of athletes in their team. Each cluster of players has a particular weakness related to physical performance and therefore, the cluster results can be applied to a specific training programmed based on individual needs.
DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2015-0177
Key words
strength, sport, physical fitness

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