Foul or no Foul? Effects of Permitted Fouls on the Defence Performance in Team Handball

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Attacking phases in team handball are highly dynamic, characterized by fast movements and a high frequency
of fast passes with the aim to score a goal. Consequently, the opposing/defending team tries to prevent successful
offensive actions by restraining the offensive opportunities and the probabilities of scoring a goal. According to the
rules, defensive players are allowed to use body contact (e.g. with bent arms) to get in and keep their optimal defending
position. If such a contact is not in line with the rules (e.g. clutching or pushing) and results in a turnover of ball
possession, a foul is called and a free-throw awarded. However, there is a lack of research answering the question if a
permitted foul (without personal sanction) is an effective way to increase the probability of defending the own goal
successfully, because afterwards the attacking team keeps possession of the ball. Thus, we investigated 1052 attacking
phases during games at the elite level to verify whether fouls committed by a defender influenced successful attacking
(goal vs. no goal). It was found that when the attack was interrupted by a permitted foul, 50.60% of the attacks ended
with a goal. Yet, when no foul was committed, only 47.09% of the attacks ended with a goal, however, the analysis
revealed that this difference was not significant. Therefore, we concluded that neither a strategy of stopping offensive
actions by body contact nor avoiding fouls and focusing only on intercepting the ball were favourable solutions in
successful defending in team handball. It seems effective to implement a defence strategy with clearly defined fouling
zones and situations, to deal with the tactical possibility of permitted fouls in handball. This idea and further
considerations are discussed for sports practice.
Original languageGerman
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 08.2018

ID: 3477184


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