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Coaches / Analysis / Details

Qualitative analysis (1)

Performance analysis of individual behaviour

The individual playing abilities of wing, back-court, and line players are a key element of success in top-level handball.

The position-specific requirements have continuously been developing for years. At the 2019 World Championship, we also observed new developments in terms of technique and tactics.


1. Fake passes as part of the back-court players’ repertoire

Today’s back-court players are highly skilled when it comes to cooperative play in width and depth (comprehensive repertoire of wide or deep passing variations to wing or line players).

If we look at the individual player profiles of the top players, we can clearly see that the repertoire of different feints is constantly evolving. In addition to fake shots and body feints (in breakthrough actions), we can now also see more and more different fake passes. There are various forms of fake passes:

  • Feinting a direct pass
  • Feinting a bounce pass
  • Feinting a wide pass
  • Feinting a deep pass

Feints generally consist of a fake action (feinting a shot, pass or breakthrough) and a follow-up action. With regard to fake passes, the tactical objectives and follow-up actions vary widely:

  • Return pass against the direction of the moving defenders
  • Provoking a specific defensive action from an opponent (for example, feinting a direct high pass, but playing a bounce pass to the line player when the opponent tries to block the fake high pass)
  • Provoking sideways moves from the defenders (for example, by feinting a deep pass to one of the line players) in order to attack open spaces to the opposite side (for example, waves)
  • Tactical change of pace: explosive (individual or collaborative) attacking action towards the opposite direction following a (‘slower’) fake pass
  • Fake passes as part of group tactical attacking actions (for example, feinting a pass to a crossing teammate followed by a breakthrough)

Different fake passes are used more frequently when outnumbering the opponents in attack (six against five, seven against six). When outnumbered, the defence usually uses intense footwork to try to close down open spaces. This is where fake passes are a good tactical option if they are followed by actions against the direction of the moving defenders. It allows the attackers to create larger spaces in which they will then clearly outnumber the defence.

{cd6c2b8b-123c-401f-ac43-cfe416283e99,Videos 1 to 3} feature different fake passes. Interestingly, in one-on-one situations today’s top players use sequences of several consecutive feints (see video 3).


2. Fake shots as part of the back-court players’ repertoire

Fake straight and jump shots (see {a816ccf1-62ae-4bd3-80ae-e195b49e0728,video 4}) are of course similarly important in the back-court players’ repertoire. The tactical follow-up actions often vary:

  • Fake jump shots are often followed by direct breakthroughs. This is understandable, as the aim basically is to provoke a jump block from the opponent.
  • Fake straight shots also aim at breakthroughs. However, there may be other creative follow-up actions as well:
    • Fake straight shot – pass to line player
    • Fake straight shot – jump shot
    • Fake high straight shot – low straight shot
    • Feinting a straight shot to throwing-arm side – straight shot to opposite side


3. Creative technical variations of different fake passes during cooperation between back-court and line players

For many years, there has been a clear trend towards high quality in cooperative play, especially in the depth (wide range of passing variations from back-court to line players). We wrongly thought that the options had basically been exhausted. But at the 2019 World Championship, we were pleased to observe a wide range of partly new technical variations (see {d6f660f3-f818-4e23-9c72-63e382990ff1,video 5} and {040c393c-0dee-40b1-90be-fba131e651f7,video 7}). Some examples include:

  • Bounce pass to line player after preparing for straight shot
  • Passes in behind the defence (see {f4e17796-4650-46dd-a180-e7e1307aab0a,video 6}):
    • Bounce passes through/into the goal area
    • Diagonal passes in close range of goal
    • Sudden lob over a defender
  • No-look back-handed pass
  • Over-head pass (with the back to the defence)
  • Surprising pass to line player during a one-on-one (dropping the ball)


4. Creative, partly acrobatic throwing actions by line players

The intensification of cooperative play (two-against-two and three-against-three situations) over the last years have put the line players in the spotlight of finishing situations. Today, nearly a quarter of all goals are scored from close range.

Typically, line players have to use shot variations while under high pressure from one or several opponents. Already at France 2017 we saw more and more dive shots. Now, the line players’ throwing actions have become increasingly acrobatic (see {210a8c51-a9d0-4326-ac3b-6494e6e9d057,video 8}). This clearly suggests that line players receive variable positional training that is challenging in terms of coordination.