Skilled handball player functionality variation in annual macrocycle


Associate Professor, PhD V.A. Tishchenko
Zaporizhzhya National University, Kiev

Keywords: handball, macro-cycle, energy supply, vegetative regulation


The article presents findings of a sequential variation analysis of the key physiological performance indices of the skilled handball players including the cardiovascular system, physical workability, vegetative regulation and energy supply system performance indices over an annual macro-cycle. Objective of the study was to explore the skilled handball players’ performance variations and specifics over a year. Subject to the study were 20 handball players of 18-32 years of age from ZTR [Zaporozhye Transformer Plant] Men’s Handball Team, many-times champion of Ukraine; the study tests were performed at the start and at the end of the pre-season and regular season periods. Cycle ergometer PWC170 tests were used to obtain the overall physical working capacity rates and energy supply system performance rates of the athletes. The central haemodynamic system performance was tested using the tetra-polar rheo-plethysmography test method. Condition of the vegetative homeostasis system was studied using the heart rate variability analysis.

The study data provided good grounds to find that the athletes’ individual adaptive responses of the body to the training workloads in the pre-season will cause variable tensions in the body regulation systems. The study found no meaningful differences in heart rate and stroke volume. In the regular season, however, the tests showed some economizing trend in the vascular segment of the blood circulation system with some sagging of activity of the sympathetic influences. There are sound reasons to assume that the heart rate variability analysis provides fairly informative data for the athletic performance being fairly rated and, hence, the relevant corrections being timely made in the active training and rehabilitation stages of the training process.


No athlete can be successful enough unless his/her individual training cycle is designed in such a way as to ensure the athletic performance and fitness being improved. This is the reason why the demand for the psycho-physiological, vegetative and physical performance profiling studies of handball teams on the whole and their individual players in particular is so high, as the performance rating data give the means to prudently shape up and optimize the athletic performance at different stages of the training process.

It was for the last few decades that a high priority has been given to the heart rate variability studies with a special emphasis on the periods of the athlete’s adaptation to the training/ competitive workloads [1]. Widely recognized has been the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Analysis that has been applied, among other things, for the tests of vegetative regulation of physiological functions [2, 4]. The multiple HRV indices are known to be in certain correlations and this was the prime reason for the tests under the study being scheduled at the start and the end of the pre-season and regular season periods [5]. Having analyzed the heart rate variability indices over the annual cycle versus the relevant competitive efficiency rates of the skilled handball players, we found that the heart rate vegetative regulation indices of every tested player showed a change for the worse during the final stages of the competitions [3].

Methodology and structure of the study

The tests were designed to cover the whole annual training-and-competition macro-cycle. Subject to the study were 20 handball players of 18-32 years of age from ZTR Men’s Handball Team, many-times champion of Ukraine. The tests were designed to generate the physical working capacity rates and energy supply system performance rates, plus the alactate/ lactate capacity indices using the tetra-polar rheo-plethysmography test method and the heart rate variability data and analysis.

Study results and discussion

The overall physical working capacity rates being on the fall by the end of the pre-season – apparently indicative of the certain fatigue processes – may be interpreted as a result of the one-way performance intensity sagging (notable, albeit statistically unreliable) in every of the three energy supply systems subject to the study.

The overall physical working capacity rate variations were found to be meaningful both from the start to the end of the pre-season and from the start of the pre-season to the start of the regular season, with p<0.001 (t=5.23) for the аPWC170 values; and p<0.01 (t=3.88) for the оPWC170 values. The creatine-phosphate capacity rates were found meaningfully different for the start of the regular season versus the start of the pre-season (p<0.05; t=2.45); and the same applies to the N lac [lactate capacity] values (p<0.01; t=3.12). Later on during the regular season and apparently as a result of the permanent physical, mental and emotional stresses, the cardiovascular system performance rates showed some variation trends. By the end of the regular season, the subject athletes were found to change to a hyper-kinetic regulation type associated with some rise of the heart chronotropic function activity that may be due to the compensatory stimulation of the sympathetic-adrenal system geared to overcome the growing fatigue processes.

The Мо test rates of the handball players were found to vary over the annual macro-cycle within the range of 968.67±165.84 ms to 1052.34±177.76 ms. The mode amplitudes АМо were found to: vary in a wavelike manner at the start of the pre-season (34.45±3.16 %); then fall by the start of the regular season (to 28.42±2.28 %); and grow up again by the end of the regular season (to 32.44±3.26 %). The SDNN [Standard Deviation of NN interval] indices metered by the study showed that the athletes’ body systems responsible for the compensatory and adaptive responses to strenuous physical workloads were highly stressed in the pre-season. In this context, the vegetative regulation mechanisms being maintained in a duly balanced state apparently require the sympathicotonia being additionally stimulated in response to the parasympathetic influences getting stronger due to the growing fatigue processes. The dRR indices generated by the study were found to show the similar variations in the relevant periods under the study. The variation range of the dRR cardio-interval indices within the studied period was found to contract during the regular (competitive) season. At the start of the pre-season it was amounted to 348.36±86.14 ms; then it sagged to 324.64±106.44 ms by the start of the regular season; and by the end of the regular season the dRR values were found to grow up to 332.47±128.54 ms.


When the vegetative homeostasis is maintained at a high level, it is normally considered indicative of a high athletic fitness sufficient for the sympathetic-adrenal system potential being kept high enough to overcome (with active contribution from the latter) the growing fatigue processes.


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