Handball is an Olympic discipline game where successful performance depends on a number of basic abilities in particular strength, power, speed and endurance. Creativity in combination with speed and strength as well as coordination makes this sport very attractive but tough to play [1
]. Statistical data about the handball game from tournaments at the Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships from the last years indicates that the effectiveness of the game in a quick attack were improved and the element of quick start of the game after losing a goal in handball is used in 80% by European teams. Moreover the active playing time of the attack has also changed from 37 min to 42 min and the number of attacks increased from 45 in the 1960s to almost 70 in the 21st century. It shows that that contemporary handball has definitely become a more dynamic and faster team game than it used to be [2
Evaluation of motor skills and anthropometric characteristics of handball players was a subject matter of a number of studies. Jensen et al. (1997) [5
] showed a significant effect of the intertwined strength and speed training on speed of movement. Similar research was made by Hoff et al. (1995) [6
] who observed an improvement in the speed of the throw. Influence of the strength training used during the sports season was analysed by Gorostiaga et al. (2006) [7
] which contributed to a significant improvement in the maximum upper body strength and the speed of ball throw, while no changes were noted in the strength of lower limbs. The impact of experience (sports seniority) on effectiveness of the game was also analysed [8
]. Based on anthropometric measurements of handball players presenting different levels of sporting advancement Massuca and Fragoso (2011) [10
] performer that the players presenting the highest sports level were taller, heavier, and had less body fat and a larger lean mass. Gorostiaga et al. (2005) [8
] compared the body structure of an elite and amateur team of handball players. It was noticed that the elite handball players presented higher values of body weight and free fat mass.
Besides evaluation of competitor’s basic somatic parameters [8
], motor skills [6
], sports seniority [9
] it seems essential to deal with evaluation of their psychomotor abilities. Ability to predict the movement of the opponent and the ball, selective attention, choosing the response, speed of perception and a high level of sensory and motor fitness are the elements of a sports competition that help a competitor win the game [14
]. Thanks to such skills as the ability to acquire visual information about an approaching object (ball), a high level of eye-hand coordination players can react to external stimuli more effectively and adapt their movements to the situation on the court [16
]. In mentioned researches also were showed that perceptive abilities combined with the ability to predict movement and share attention help to reach successes in team sports [17
]. Because competition in sports games takes place in environments varying for space and time an important aspect is quick flow of information, focusing, anticipation, predicting movement of the opponent and the ability to quickly move around the court under circumstances of a sports competition [15
]. Thus psychomotor abilities, including reaction time can play a key role and lead to victory [9
]. This thesis is confirmed by research conducted by Yüksel & Tunç [20
], who evaluated the reaction time of a 45-person group of badminton players taking part in the 5th International Sport Games of Rumia. Based on the research, it was established that the reaction time of the leading teams were shorter than the teams that were classified below. It was also found that this factor, apart from the technique and tactical preparation, had influence on the victory [20
The previous research shows that reaction time is influenced by the following factors such as: body height [11
], training level, [13
], dominant hand [21
]. In addition, the results of research made by Wik et al. (2019) [22
] showed the importance of training programs, which should be adapted to the position on which player plays and the league in which the athletes is competing. Badau et al. (2018) [23
] made an assessment of the simple reaction time on visual stimuli among athletes practicing various sports disciplines with a dominant and non-dominant hand.
The main purpose of the paper was to evaluate selected psychomotor abilities of professional handball players using computer systems Test2Drive. The data of handball players were evaluated in relation to the control group consisting of non-training men. The impact of the competition class (league), position on the court, training seniority and the dominant hand on the studied psychomotor abilities were analyzed.
Evaluation of the coordination level of psychomotor abilities in handball players was the subject matter of the study. The evaluation was made in the aspect of differences between training and non-training participants, as well as within the group of handball players with regard to the league (Superliga, 1st league, 2nd league), position on the court (centre player, goalkeeper, pivot player, wing player), sports seniority (less than 10 years, from 10 to 14 years, over 14 years) and the dominant hand (right, left).
The literature highlights a positive impact of physical exercises on the level of psychomotor abilities [13
]. Nakamoto and Mori observed that basketball players and baseball players demonstrated faster reaction times than non-training people. Similar regularities were observed among martial art athletes [28
]. Having examined 20 teenagers who did Taekwondo regularly Fong et al. discovered that people who did this sports discipline had shorter reaction time than their non-training counterparts. According to Kashihara and Nakahara on the initial stage of physical exercises, the reaction time of the study participants (men) improved [27
]. It was also observed that the level of eye-hand coordination depended on the specific nature of a sports discipline. According to Grigore et al., in disciplines in which there is a direct contact with an opponent (handball, basketball, karate), the level of eye-hand coordination is much higher than in players/ sportspeople doing contactless sports (gymnastics, dance, sprint and swimming) [12
]. The analyses performed in the previous chapter showed that in all four tests studying psychomotor abilities, handball players presented a much higher level of the abilities than non-training people, and the differences observed between the groups were statistically significant. In SIRT (RT i MT) handball players achieved shorter times (respectively 331.0 ms and 191.7 ms) than non-training participants of the study (respectively 348.3 ms and 264.3 ms).The study revealed also that handball players present a higher level of eye-hand coordination as compared to the study participants who did not play any sports. In HECOR test the difference in the RT and MT values between the group of handball players and the control group was 171 ms and 82.1 ms, respectively. For the majority of the studied parameters, the training group was characterised by greater cohesion (lower diversity within the group). Then a conclusion can be drawn that physical exercises have a positive impact on the level of the abovementioned abilities.
The results of studies carried out with regard to the game league show that Superliga players have the highest level of psychomotor abilities. They achieved the shortest reaction times in all tests (except SIRT). The results in this group were 638.2 ms for CHORT, 384.3 ms for HECOR and 562.2 ms for SPANT test. It was also observed that Superliga players had the poorest MT in each of the analysed tests. The 1st league players reached the best MT (except SIRT). Williams and Walmslay came to similar conclusions [29
]. According to their studies, better reaction time results were noted for professional fencers, while for the MT the group had poorer results than the beginners [29
]. The results are partly confirmed by studies carried out in a group of professional tennis players. Players playing on the top of the league had shorter reaction times than amateur players (Hughes et al. 1993). Gutierrez-Davila et al. [30
] drew similar conclusions studying a group of fencers. Their analysis revealed that choice reaction time was not a factor differentiating the elite group from medium-level fencers [30
The literature contains many papers investigating the relationship between position on the court and movement abilities [31
]. Krüger et al. [31
] research showed that competitors who played on the wings and back position present the best results for jumping ability. Similar phenomenon was observed during the analysis of the throwing velocity. Backs and wings handball players performed best. Another study involved evaluation of anthropometric parameters considering the player’s position [35
]. The research conducted on rugby players group indicated that props were taller, heavier and had greater skinfold thickness than all other positions [35
]. Gil et al. [36
] made anthropometric and physiological characteristic of young soccer players according to their playing position. The results showed that goalkeepers were the tallest and the heaviest players. A subsequent stage of the analysis included evaluation of the level of psychomotor abilities of handball players among CPs, GKs, PPs and WPs. The analysis revealed that centre players achieved the best RT in SIRT and SPANT, pivot players were characterised by the best eye-hand coordination, while wing players recorded the best movement times in SIRT and HECOR.
Age is a factor which greatly affects reaction time. According to the studies by Luchies et al. [37
], reaction time extends with the age of the study participants. The phenomenon was also observed by Redfern et al. [38
]. Their observations revealed that reaction time to acoustic and visual signals, measured during the platform perturbations was longer in older participants. The results presented by Araki and Choshi [39
], VaezMousavi et al. [40
] and Richards et al. [41
] show that the reaction time is shorter at medium level of excitement. It becomes worse when the person is too relaxed or too tense. It depends on the training seniority. The greater the player’s experience, the lower the excitement and muscle tension, and hence a shorter reaction time. The thesis is partly confirmed by this study. The performed analysis revealed that the shortest RT among handball players was recorded in the group of players with the longest seniority (>14 years). The phenomenon was observed in all tests, simple and choice reaction time, hand-eye coordination and spacial anticipation. The data analysis for the player’s seniority showed that as regards MT, the highest level of psychomotor abilities characterised players doing sports between 10 and 14 years. The worst MT and RT results for all studied psychomotor abilities were observed for players with the shortest seniority (<10 years). A conclusion can be made that regular professional training will contribute to improvement of psychomotor abilities.
Considering the issues related to the level of psychomotor abilities one shall take lateralisation into account. Evaluation of functional asymmetry of the right and left side of the human body was studied e.g., by Bryden [42
], who examined only right-handed people and observed that the difficulty of the task to be performed did not significantly affect the reaction time between the right and left hand. Lateralisation can be observed in sports. Studies carried out by Al. Awamleh et al. revealed no significant difference between right- and left-handed players in the reaction time. The results do not correlate with the results obtained by Dane and Erzurumluoglu [21
] who did not observe significant differences in the reaction times of the right- and left-handed handball players in the right-hand test. The researchers discovered that left-handed players were much quicker than the right-handed ones in the tests using left hand. Holtzen [43
] reached similar conclusions in his study on a group of professional tennis players. According to Holtzen, left-handed players do eye-hand tasks better than right-handed players. The authors’ own study partly confirms the thesis. In the tests of psychomotor abilities, left-handed players demonstrated shorter mean values characteristic of the reaction time. Movement times in complex tests (CHORT and SPANT) were an exception because right-handed players achieved better results.
The presented paper has potential limitations. Study limitations are related to the number of handball players. In the group of 40 players there is only three of pivot players and four left handed players. The conclusions being drawn about those subgroups may be potentially not precise.