Intra-seasonal Variability of Ball Speed and Coordination of Two Team-Handball Throwing Techniques in Elite Male Adolescent Players.

Open access


In sports biomechanics and motor control, a thorough study of coordination variability is important to understanding how the human movement system is organized. From a more applied sport science perspective, knowledge about performance variability is essential regarding the evaluation of true sport specific effects of any intervention. While there are many reports of intervention studies in team-handball, no description of the amount of normal variability is available. This study investigated variability of two important throwing techniques in team-handball within elite junior players over a 4-month period during a competitive season. To evaluate ball speed variability, the intra-individual coefficient of variation was calculated. The 95th percentile of ball speed variability over all players was 7%, which can be used as an effect size estimate in future research. For coordination variability, a qualitative description based on the output of neural networks was used. All participants presented multiple coordination patterns, representing multi-stability on a month-to-month timescale and switched between stable states without the manipulation of any control variable. Some limitations in the methodology and applications of neural networks in the present study and in biomechanics and motor control in general are highlighted. When more researchers adopt these methodologies, a more coherent framework for their application can emerge.

Bartlett, R. (2006). Artificial Intelligence in Sports Biomechanics: New Dawn or False Hope? Journal of Sport Science and Medecine, 5(July), 474–479.

Bartlett, R., Wheat, J., & Robins, M. (2007). Is movement variability important for sports biomechanists? Sports Biomechanics, 6(2), 224–243.

Bauer, H., & Schöllhorn, W. (1997). Self-Organizing Maps for the Analysis of Complex Movement Patterns. Neural Processing Letters, 5, 193–199.

Button, C., Wheat, J., & Lamb, P. (2014). Why coordination dynamics is relevant for studying sport performance. In K. Davids, R. Hristovski, D. Araújo, N. B. Serre, C. Button, & P. Passos (Eds.), Complex Systems in Sport (pp. 44–62). New York: Routledge.

Chelly, M. S., Hermassi, S., Aouadi, R., & Shephard, R. J. (2014). Effects of 8-week in-season plyometric training on upper and lower limb performance of elite adolescent handball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(5), 1401–1410.

Edelman, G. M., & Gally, J. A. (2001). Degeneracy and complexity in biological systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98, 13763–13768. doi:10.1073/pnas.231499798

Ettema, G., Glosen, T., & van den Tillaar, R. (2008). Effect of specific resistance training on overarm throwing performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 3, 164–175.

Glazier, P. (2010). Game, Set and Match? Substantive Issues and Future Directions in Performance Analysis. Sports Medicine, 40(8), 625–634.

Gorostiaga, E. M., Granados, C., Ibáñez, J., González-Badillo, J. J., & Izquierdo, M. (2006). Effects of an entire season on physical fitness changes in elite male handball players. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(2), 357–366. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000184586.74398.03

Granados, C., Izquierdo, M., Ibàñez, J., Ruesta, M., & Gorostiaga, E. M. (2008). Effects of an entire season on physical fitness in elite female handball players. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 40, 351–361. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31815b4905

Haken, H., Kelso, J. A., & Bunz, H. (1985). A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movements. Biological Cybernetics, 51, 347–356.

Hamill, J., Palmer, C., & Van Emmerik, R. E. a. (2012). Coordinative variability and overuse injury. Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology : SMARTT, 4(1), 45. doi:10.1186/1758-2555-4-45

Hermassi, S., van den Tillaar, R., Khlifa, R., Chelly, M. S., & Chamari, K. (2015). Comparison of in-season specific resistance- vs. a regular throwing training program on throwing velocity, anthropometry and power performance in elite handball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000855

Horst, F., Eekhoff, A., & Schöllhorn, W. (2014). Individual gait patterns are changing much more by itself. In A. De Haan, C. De Ruiter, & E. Tsolakidis (Eds.), Book of Abstract of the 19th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (p. 42). Amsterdam.

Horst, F., Kramer, F., Schäfer, B., Eekhoff, A., Hegen, P., & Schöllhorn, W. (2015). Daily changes of individual gait patterns. In A. Radmann, S. Hedenborg, & E. Tsolakidis (Eds.), Book of Abstract of the 20th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (p. 53). Malmö.

Kelso, S. J. A. (1995). Dynamic Patterns. The self-organization of brain and behaviour. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kelso, S. J. A. (2012). Multistability and metastability: understanding dynamic coordination in the brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 367, 906–918. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0351

Kohonen, T. (2001). Self-Organizing Maps (3rd. Ed.). Springer.

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., Lindinger, S., & Kennedy, G. (2014). Multi-dimensional coordination in cross-country skiing analyzed using self-organizing maps. Human Movement Science, 33, 54–69. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2013.08.005

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2011). Artificial neural networks for analyzing inter-limb coordination: the golf chip shot. Human Movement Science, 30, 1129–1143. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2010.12.006

Lees, A., & Rahnama, N. (2013). Variability and typical error in the kinematics and kinetics of the maximal instep kick in soccer. Sports Biomechanics, 12(3), 283–292. doi:10.1080/14763141.2012.759613

Morais, J. E., Silva, A. J., Marinho, D. A., Seifert, L., & Barbosa, T. M. (2015). Cluster Stability as a New Method to Assess Changes in Performance and its Determinant Factors Over a Season in Young Swimmers. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 10, 261–268.

Newell, K. M. (1986). Constraints on the development of coordination. In M. G. Wade & H. T. A. Whiting (Eds.), Motor Development in Children: Aspects of Coordination and Control. (pp. 341–359). Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhof.

Newell, K. M., Mayer-Kress, G., Hong, S. L., & Liu, Y. T. (2009). Adaptation and learning: Characteristic time scales of performance dynamics. Human Movement Science, 28(6), 655–687. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2009.07.001

Ohnjec, K., Antekolovic, L., & Gruic, I. (2010). Comparison of kinematic parameters of jump shot performance by female handball players of different ages. Acta Kinesiologica, 4(2), 33–40.

Pori, P., Bon, M., & Sibila, M. (2005). Jump shot performance in team handball - A kinematic model evaluated on the basis of expert modelling. Kinesiology, 37(1), 40–49.

Preatoni, E., Hamill, J., Harrison, A. J., Hayes, K., Van Emmerik, R. E. a., Wilson, C., & Rodano, R. (2012). Movement variability and skills monitoring in sports. Sports Biomechanics, (April 2013), 1–24. doi:10.1080/14763141.2012.738700

Saeterbakken, A. H., van den Tillaar, R., & Seiler, S. (2011). Effect of core stability training on throwing velocity in female handball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 25(3), 712–8. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc227e

Sammon, J. W. jr. (1969). A Nonlinear Mapping for Data Structure Analysis. IEEE Transactions on Computers, C-18(5), 401–409.

Schöllhorn, W. I. (2004). Applications of artificial neural nets in clinical biomechanics. Clinical Biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 19(9), 876–98. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2004.04.005

Schorer, J., Baker, J., Fath, F., & Jaitner, T. (2007). Identification of interindividual and intraindividual movement patterns in handball players of varying expertise levels. Journal of Motor Behavior, 39(5), 409–21. doi:10.3200/JMBR.39.5.409-422

Seifert, L., Button, C., & Davids, K. (2013). Key properties of expert movement systems in sport : an ecological dynamics perspective. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 43(3), 167–78. doi:10.1007/s40279-012-0011-z

Stergiou, N., & Decker, L. M. (2011). Human movement variability, nonlinear dynamics, and pathology: is there a connection? Human Movement Science, 30(5), 869–88. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2011.06.002

van den Tillaar, R., & Ettema, G. (2003). Instructions emphasizing velocity, accuracy or both on kinematics of overarm throwing by experienced team handball players. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 97, 731–742.

van den Tillaar, R., & Ettema, G. (2004). A force-velocity relationship and coordination patterns in overarm throwing. Journal of Sports Science and Medecine, 3, 211–219.

van den Tillaar, R., & Ettema, G. (2006). A comparison between novices and experts of the speed-accuracy trade-off in overarm throwing. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 103, 503–514.

van den Tillaar, R., & Ettema, G. (2011). A comparison of kinematics between overarm throwing with 20% underweight, regular, and 20% overweight balls. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 27(3), 252–7. Retrieved from

van den Tillaar, R., & Marques, M. C. (2011). Effect of training on the kinematics and performance in overarm throwing in experienced female handball players. Portuguese Journal of Sport Sciences, 11(2), 125–128.

Vesanto, J., Himberg, J., Alhoniemi, E., & Parhankangas, J. (2000). SOM Toolbox for Matlab 5.

Wagner, H., Buchecker, M., von Duvillard, S. P., & Müller, E. (2010a). Kinematic comparison of team handball throwing with two different arm positions. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 5, 469–483. Retrieved from

Wagner, H., Buchecker, M., von Duvillard, S. P., & Müller, E. (2010b). Kinematic description of elite vs. low level players in team-handball jump throw. Journal of Sports Science and Medecine, 9, 15–23.

Wagner, H., Finkenzeller, T., Würth, S., & von Duvillard, S. P. (2014). Individual and Team Performance in Team-Handball : A Review. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 13, 808–816.

Wagner, H., Kainrath, S., & Müller, E. (2008). Coordinative and tactical parameters in the handball throw and their influence to the level of performance. In 13 th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science.

Wagner, H., & Müller, E. (2008). The effects of differential and variable training on the quality parameters of a handball throw. Sports Biomechanics / International Society of Biomechanics in Sports, 7(1), 54–71. doi:10.1080/14763140701689822

Wagner, H., Pfusterschmied, J., Klous, M., von Duvillard, S. P., & Müller, E. (2011). Movement variability and skill level of various throwing techniques. Human Movement Science, 31(1), 78–90. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2011.05.005

Wagner, H., Pfusterschmied, J., von Duvillard, S. P., & Müller, E. (2012). Skill-dependent proximal-to-distal sequence in team-handball throwing. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(1), 21–9. doi:10.1080/02640414.2011.617773

Wu, G., van der Helm, F. C. T., (DirkJan) Veeger, H. E. J., Makhsous, M., Van Roy, P., Anglin, C., … Buchholz, B. (2005). ISB recommendation on definitions of joint coordinate systems of various joints for the reporting of human joint motion—Part II: shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Journal of Biomechanics, 38(5), 981–992. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2004.05.042

Zatsiorsky, V. (1998). Kinematics of Human Motion. Human Kinetics, Leeds UK.

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.261
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.565

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 358 346 27
PDF Downloads 130 129 15