Reproducibility of heart rate and perceptual demands of game-based training drills in handball players

<div><p>Abstract Game-based training are popular in team-sports; however there is a lack of research specific to team handball. The aim of this study was to assess i) the test-retest reliability of heart rate (HR), time spent in HR zone intensities and rating of perceived exertion of a novel small-sided game, ii) and whether it is comparable to that of generic intermittent shuttle running and match play with team handball players. Fourteen elite male handball players completed each exercise comprising two periods of 10min interspersed with 2min recovery in separate occasions and repeated them one week apart. Exercises consisted of intermittent 30s-30s shuttle running (ISR), intermittent 30s-30s small-sided game (with 3-a-side field players, 3vs3) and match play (with 6-a-side field players, 6vs6). Mean HR demonstrated high level of reproducibility for the three drills (r = 0.86-0.89, TEM = 2.21-2.63 bpm, CV = 1.23-1.55%). For time spent in heart rate zones TEMs reached up 1.12, 1.40 and 2.48 min for ISR, 6vs6 and 3vs3, respectively. Specifically for HR zone higher than 90% of HRmax, CVs showed wide extent of scores with 9.73 (ISR), 27.39 (6vs6) and 108.29% (3vs3). Mean HR results suggest that physiological response was consistent between sessions. Because of the poor reproducibility for time spent in the target zone higher than 90% of HRmax, the efficiency of both 3vs3 and 6vs6 in improving aerobic power should be analysed with caution. The present results suggest that reproducibility of physiological demand of ball-drills should be considered before prescribing them as conditioning training.</p></div>