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Contact — but not foul play — dominates injury mechanisms in men’s professional handball: a video match analysis of 580 injuries
  1. Patrick Luig1,
  2. Werner Krutsch2,
  3. Thomas Henke3,
  4. Christian Klein1,
  5. Hendrik Bloch1,
  6. Petra Platen4,
  7. Leonard Achenbach5
  1. 1 Department of Sports Injury Prevention, VBG, German Statutory Accident Insurance for the Administrative Sector, Hamburg, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Trauma Surgery, University Clinic Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany
  3. 3 Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
  4. 4 Sports Medicine and Sports Nutrition, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
  5. 5 Department of Trauma, Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Würzburg, Bayern, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Leonard Achenbach, Dpt. of Trauma, Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Würzburg, Bayern 97080, Germany; leonardachenbach{at}


Aim We aimed to identify patterns and mechanisms of injury situations in men’s professional handball by means of video match analysis.

Methods Moderate and severe injuries (absence of >7 days) sustained in competition in one of six seasons (2010 to 2013 and 2014 to 2017) in men’s professional handball were prospectively analysed with a newly developed standardised observation form. Season 2013 to 2014 was excluded because of missing video material.

Results 580 injuries were identified: 298 (51.4%) contact injuries, 151 (26.0%) indirect contact injuries and 131 (22.6%) non-contact injuries. Head (87.5%), hand (83.8%), shoulder (70.2%) and ankle (62.9%) injuries were mainly sustained during direct contact. Typical contact injuries included collision with an opponent’s upper extremity or torso, and ankle injuries mainly consisted of foot-to-foot collisions. A large proportion (41.7%) of knee injuries were caused by indirect contact, whereas thigh injuries mainly occurred (56.4%) through non-contact mechanism. Wing (56.9%) and pivot (58.4%) players had the highest proportion of contact injuries, whereas backcourt players had a high proportion of indirect contact injuries (31.5%) and goalkeepers of non-contact injuries (48.9%). The injury proportion of foul play was 28.4%. Most injuries occurred in the central zone between the 6-metre and 9-metre lines (26.1%) and during the last 10 min of each match half (OR 1.71, p=0.016).

Conclusions In men’s professional handball in a league setting, contact — but not foul play — was the most common mechanism associated with moderate and severe injuries. Head, hand, shoulder and ankle injury were mainly sustained during direct contact.

  • handball
  • injury prevention
  • contact sports

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  • Twitter @Chrs_Kln, @Hendrik_Bloch, @leo_achenbach

  • Contributors PL, CK and HB collected the data from the VBG and the video footage. PL and CK analysed the video footage. PL, CK, HB, TH and PP developed the observation form. LA, WK and PL analysed the data. All authors, but mainly PL, were responsible for the conception and design of the study. All authors participated in the consensus discussions. LA and PL interpreted the data. LA wrote the first draft of the paper, which was critically revised by all co-authors. PL and LA are responsible for the overall content as guarantors.

  • Funding Funding was received by the VBG in the framework of the project “Entwicklung und Evaluierung von Ausbildungsmodulen Verletzungsprävention für die Trainerausbildung in den Profiteamsportarten Fußball, Handball und Eishockey” (Development and evaluation).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Review Board approval was obtained from the Ethics Committee of the University of Regensburg (ID 17-895-101).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. Not available.