Two million EU citizens are active handball players. Thus, handball is one of the most popular and most widespread team sports in Europe. Considering diverging injury definitions the incidence of an injury in handball is around 2/1000 h. In competition the incidence is about 10 times higher than in training, depending on age, gender and performance level. The necessity of effective prevention measures is therefore absolutely perspicuous, but despite this fact experience has shown, that injury prevention is quite an unpopular term.
First, an up-to-date inventory of EU-wide existing prevention measures was accomplished by browsing scientific and non-scientific databases and search engines. Furthermore, accredited handball-experts in the fields of coaching, sports medicine, sports science and injury prevention were asked to review the compiled list in view of completeness. Finally, 75 preventive recommendations, that had been identified, were expert-reviewed again to determine the quality. An online evaluation tool was developed, sampling the experts position towards the presented ideas – not only regarding the pure effectivity of a measure but also the acceptance and the applicability within the handball community.
A subdivision of preventive approaches into (1) training (programmes), (2) technical/political strategies, (3) (protective) equipment/facilities, (4) medical/non-medical support and (5) multi-faceted approaches became obvious. The experts consensus revealed that sustainable prevention can only be attained when the applied measures find favour with active players and coaches. Thus, training programmes with athletic, coordinative and proprioceptive contents, considering the epidemiology and tailored to the demands of handball, may provide the biggest opportunities in reducing injuries.
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