Performance Changes and Recovery Time in U20 and Older Handball Players after a High-Intensity Sprint Exercise

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This study used a single bout of repeated high-intensity sprint exercise as a variable to compare the performance and recovery time of handball players within a typical age range for team sport athletes. Two test groups (U20 players, n = 12, mean age = 18 years; senior players, n = 17, mean age = 27 years) were observed during and after their performance of a high-intensity interval exercise consisting of four sets of 6 × 40 m all-out change-of-direction sprints. U20 players outperformed senior players in all sprint sets. The groups’ physiological responses and perceived exertion and stress levels were measured immediately before and after the exercise and also after 24, 48, and 72 h. Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed no interaction effects between age and measurement time points on jump height, muscle soreness, and perceived stress levels after the high-intensity interval exercise. However, the U20 athletes showed marginally, but not statistically significant lower creatine kinase (CK) values than the seniors 72 h after the exercise. The vagal heart rate variability (HRV) parameter rMSSD indicated a faster recovery for the U20 athletes compared to the senior players 24 h after the sprint intervals. Overall, the results demonstrate that repeated sprint intervals do not differently affect the physical performance ability (i.e., jump height) of U20 and senior players. Single parameters related to the players’ ability to recover, such as CK and HRV values, show some variations as a function of age. Based on this, coaches may want to consider a longer recovery period after a high-intensity exercise for senior players compared to younger ones.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5301
JournalApplied Sciences
Volume11
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
ISSN2076-3417
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 07.06.2021

ID: 6177314

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