Introduction: Aim of the study was to elucidate epidemiological aspects and injury mechanisms in juvenile team handball.
Method: A standardized questionnaire was used to evaluate the injuries of 100 juvenile players (50 male, 50 female, year of birth 1982/83).
Results: A total of 130 injuries were recorded of 73 players. Most of the injuries (73.1%) occurred between the age of 15 and 18. Approximately two thirds of the injuries (69.2%) occurred in a competition and most of them in an offensive situation. Backcourt players (29.0%), line players (27.5%), and goalkeepers (17.0%.) were the player positions to be most injured. Female goalkeepers were three times more often injured than male ones at the same age. Most injuries applied to the foot and the ankle (32.0%), followed by the finger joint (26.9%) and the knee (24.6%). The most frequent ankle injuries were ruptures of the lateral ankle ligaments. The knee joint was affected by the most severe injuries with the need of surgical therapy. The most common injury concerning the knee joint was rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Eleven ACL tears were recorded in the age between 15 and 18 years (12-14 years: 1; 8-12 years: 0). The most typical game situation at the point of injury was catching a ball (38.5%), contact situation with the opponent (34.5%), or landing after a jump (26.2%).
Conclusions: This study allows conclusions concerning prevention of injuries in juvenile team handball. There is apparently a difference in muscle strength and coordination of the youth handball player, especially at the age of 15-18 years, which has to be addressed. Therefore the authors recommend a proprioceptive training program as well as exercises to improve jumping techniques. Special strengthening training for the finger muscles might help to prevent finger injuries. The frequency of contact injuries underlines the importance of a "fair play" campaign among young players.