Effect of body size and gender in overarm throwing performance

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004 Apr;91(4):413-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-003-1019-8. Epub 2003 Nov 18.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between maximum isometric strength, anthropometry and maximum velocity in overarm throwing for male and female experienced handball players. Twenty male and 20 female handball players were tested. The mean ball velocity was 23.2 m s(-1) and 19.1 m s(-1) for male and female handball players, respectively. For males and females, similar correlations were found between maximal isometric strength and throwing velocity (men, r=0.43, P=0.056; women, r=0.49, P=0.027). Univariate analysis of variance between isometric strength and throwing velocity for men and women showed no significant effect of gender (F(2,36)=0.116, P=0.89). Body size had a strong positive effect on the throwing performance and isometric strength. Throwing velocity appeared to be affected by gender when size was expressed by mass or height (P<0.001). However, this dependence was completely explained by size differences when expressed as fat-free body mass (FFM). For strength, no gender effect was found at all, i.e. all gender differences were explained by size differences, irrespective on how this was expressed. The finding that strength and velocity show a gender independent relationship strengthens the notion that gender difference is based on difference in muscle bulk. We conclude that FFM, as an approximation for skeletal muscle mass, is the best measure to express body size when related to physical performance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Body Constitution / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Task Performance and Analysis