Training Diary: Goalkeepers

Amandine Leynaud of Metz works on her balance in a preparation session with the national team. Speaking of Metz, I believe they have the chance of their lives to pass the group stage this year. Hypo will not be there in time and you never know how consistent Randers will be throughout group stage.  Amandine could well be the one working the magic for the team.   HandTV

Here is Silvia Navarro training without her counterpart, Montenegrin Milijana Milenkovic, who hasn’t arrived in Estella yet. Having a trainer who works exclusively with the goalkeepers is something normal for Itxako, as for Larvik, Gyor, Buducnost.

Oltchim’s goalkeepers, Sanela Knezovic and Talida Tolnai are working out under Frak Khun’s supervision. Frank  runs the physical preparation of the team. Glad to see he is making himself useful, while Voina starts trainings with the ball.


The Back List

Right back – left back, the words that one hears on a daily basis in handball. Left can play on all positions, whilst right will remain unswerving. Thus they aren’t equally skillful. Here is an assessment of essential characteristics of back players.

What makes a back the most powerful weapon in a team is his jump, that provides him a clear  view on the goal. A classical “3 steps and jump” brings the back in central position with loads of possibilities to finalize.  This supposes cooperation between pivot, center back and backs in order to create the necessary space.

1.  From where she stands, girl can shoot, can’t she?

Now, it is very important for the back to posses positional shooting.

First in this case, I will look at jumps. Movements will be vertical, with 3 steps forward and a sharp jump. This time, the purpose of the jump is not the travel of the body towards the center, but climbing the wall in front. Players that have recourse to it are not as numerous as I would have thought.

On left back, Marija Jovanovic can do it, but she uses the wall in front to hide the direction of the ball and thus her jump is quite low. She simulates once and then shoots over the arm of the opponent. Cristina Neagu who is not afraid of body contact, takes some steps on the side, simulating the passing of the ball to the pivot, and jumps. Before Neagu, we saw Liudmila Postnova taking the time to decide on a shot and adjust her position by taking those steps. Bojana Popovic and Andrea Penezic do it without simulation. Unlike the others, Alexandrina Barbosa and Mariama Signate may start their steps from behind the 9 m line and take the jump around that limit.  Another characteristic of Neagu and Penezic is the “sudden jump of two feet”, always effective and surprising (see, 1:52).

Players that do not jump from left back court position: Olga Levina, Trine Troelsen, Linnea Torstenson, Rikke Skov, Tonje Larsen, Eduarda Amorim. Instead, they often shoot from the center.

Very few RB opt for that kind of execution, preferring instead to gain a clear lane by avoiding  the opponent. Breakthroughs and shots in place are much more common than jumps on right back.

One could name  Grit Jurack, Barbara Varlec, Camilla Dalby, Camille Ayglon and to a lesser extent Lidija Horvat and Melinda Geiger as takers, whereas Sulland, Bulatovic, Kochetova, Soit, Jorgensen will hardly consider it. See, queen Radulovics at 2.34.

2. Shot in place, there are ways 

Whereas a strong jump is not compulsory for backs, the majority, regardless the side, posses at least one “of the ground” shot.

One special mention is Patricia Vizitiu, a player with a wide repertoire of shots.

Added steps help to project speed into the ball (see, Neagu at 5:14), whereas a static execution demands contribution of wrist, arm and shoulder (see, 5:08). Tall players like Penezic, Popovic, Bulatovic, Jovanovic, Torsterson,  will need those extra steps. In contrast, it is mostly short players like Mork, Vizitiu and Troelsen  that don’t need a run up. Note that Scandinavians, Romanians, Germans are more skilled from this point of view than players from ex-Yugoslavian countries, the Spanish or the French.

Players that do not use it genuinely: Geiger, Varlec, Gros, Sulland. Right backs can have issues with it and the most relevant example is Katarina Bulatovic. Her ugly shot looks very rudimentary, as she needs to bend a lot in order to put all her power in the shot. It looks as if she is throwing a stone at someone.

3. Breakthrough  

This is an equally distributed characteristic among left and right backs.

4. SO…

Concluding, the starting hypothesis seems correct: left backs are usually more skilled than right backs in shooting. Of course this is what dictates putting them on right back position when needed. A left handed player has a specific role, without being the foundation piece of a team.

I would be curious to know if this is more of a preconception that trainers have projected on the game play of their teams more than something related to the motric characteristic of lefties . Norway has thought us an important lesson by using players like Mork, Kurtovic or Riegelhuth as polivalent RW-RB-CB players with outstanding results. What next? Maybe a left handed LB. Do I hear Anja Andersen saying yes, yes, yes?

Training Diary: Part 5

According to Vijesti, Buducnost resumed training in their Morača hall last week. Having read the sport section of Vijesti for a long time now, I can say that, despite its nationalistic tone, it provides pertinent and documented information in a professional way. It is nothing like our Prosport almost-tabloid.

To the list of new players of Buducnost, we can add Ivana Bozovic, formerly on loan to Biseri Pljevlja, and the young left wing Marija Kopitović, probably another “pearl” they count on for the future of the NT. Ivana is one of the best of her generation, that is the generation of Milena Knezevic, Majda Mehmedovic, Suzana Lazovic and Jelena Markovic. She was on the U19 team for the EC in Hungary where Montenegro put on a good performance. What followed was WC bronze last summer, without Bozovic, injured at that time.

Suzana Lazovic has back problems, whereas Jelena Markovic  can’t train because of knee injury. Both resulted in surgery. Jelena will heal by the end of October. In Suzana’s case, it is uncertain whether she will be able to recover in time for the WC in Brasil.

The team will train in Morača until the end of the week. They will continue preparations for 12 days in Rožaje(?) and later head to Hungary for one of the Szabella tournaments.

Arena features a picture of the team.

Site Review Part 4: RK Zajecar

One good reason to follow this site is the fact that Zajecar tries to host as many handball events as possible. This year, the Final Four of the Women’s Regional League took place there. Subsequently, info on the event was featured on the site.

Moreover, until recently they uploaded full matches on a youtube channel, where I had the surprise to find the match against HC Zalau, in the EHF Cup. It was a bit disappointing there was no uploading of  any of the Final Four matches, but nonetheless I was grateful for the numerous pictures they posted on the facebook page.  They set an example for the WRHL organizers who are a disaster when it comes to promoting the League.