This study first aimed to examine strength, speed, and jumping abilities in 29 male and 29 female junior elite handball players and second to compare Under-18 and Under-16 players in the selected parameters. The players were chosen by the Norwegian Handball Federation, and all were tested in strength (squat and bench press), speed (10-, 30-, and 6 × 30-m repeated sprint ability), and jumping abilities (countermovement jump and squat jump [SJ]). Anthropometric qualities were also measured. Independent t-tests were applied to reveal possible mean differences between the U-18 and U-16 players within each sex. No significant differences in anthropometry were observed between the U18 and U16 players within either sex. Furthermore, we did not observe any significant between group differences among the male players in any of the tested performance parameters. On average, however, the U16 male (n = 14) players performed better in all the tests compared with in the U18 (n = 15) male players. Similarly, we did not find any significant differences in test performances between U18 female players and U16 female players. Still, a few trends (p ≤ 0.1) were observed because female U18 (n = 14) players were found to sprint faster on both 10 and 30 m and to jump higher in SJ vs. female U16 (n = 15) players. The empirical findings do not confirm the hypothesis of pubertal development and muscle growth leading to taller and heavier U18 players. Furthermore, we expected U18 players to perform better in all the tests when compared with U16 players. Again, the data did not substantiate this, although female U18 players tended to perform better in sprint and SJ compared with the U16 players.
- Junior Elite Players
- Sex differences