Foul or no Foul? Effects of Permitted Fouls on the Defence Performance in Team Handball

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Frowin Fasold, Dennis Redlich

Attacking phases in team handball are highly dynamic, characterized by fast movements and a high frequency of fast passes with the aim to score a goal. Consequently, the opposing/defending team tries to prevent successful offensive actions by restraining the offensive opportunities and the probabilities of scoring a goal. According to the rules, defensive players are allowed to use body contact (e.g. with bent arms) to get in and keep their optimal defending position. If such a contact is not in line with the rules (e.g. clutching or pushing) and results in a turnover of ball possession, a foul is called and a free-throw awarded. However, there is a lack of research answering the question if a permitted foul (without personal sanction) is an effective way to increase the probability of defending the own goal successfully, because afterwards the attacking team keeps possession of the ball. Thus, we investigated 1052 attacking phases during games at the elite level to verify whether fouls committed by a defender influenced successful attacking (goal vs. no goal). It was found that when the attack was interrupted by a permitted foul, 50.60% of the attacks ended with a goal. Yet, when no foul was committed, only 47.09% of the attacks ended with a goal, however, the analysis revealed that this difference was not significant. Therefore, we concluded that neither a strategy of stopping offensive actions by body contact nor avoiding fouls and focusing only on intercepting the ball were favourable solutions in successful defending in team handball. It seems effective to implement a defence strategy with clearly defined fouling zones and situations, to deal with the tactical possibility of permitted fouls in handball. This idea and further considerations are discussed for sports practice.
DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2018-0006
Key words
team, team sports, game analysis, tactics, game interruption

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