Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 11–20 | Cite as

Investigating predictors of ball-throwing velocity in team handball: the role of sex, anthropometry, and body composition

  • Francesco Piscitelli
  • Chiara Milanese
  • Marco Sandri
  • Valentina Cavedon
  • Carlo Zancanaro
Original Article



In this work we investigated the role of sex, anthropometry and body composition in predicting ball-throwing velocity in skilled team handball players of different competitive level.


Forty-six handball players (22 males, 24 females) underwent standard anthropometry and body composition analysis using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Ball-throwing velocity in standing throw from 7 m and three-step running throw from 9 m to a left and right goal was evaluated on court using a radar gun.


Results showed that males throw faster than females in all types of throw, independently of several confounding variables. In both sexes, after correction for several confounding variables, bone mineral content and/or density positively correlated with ball-throwing velocity in all types of throw, but lean and fat mass did not. To minimize collinearity problems, we used the sophisticated Random Forests approach to select variables for regression analysis. In the resulting models, bone mineral content and/or density emerged as sole predictors of ball-throwing velocity to a limited (adjusted R 2 = 0.10–0.36) albeit significant extent.


It is concluded that, besides sex, the athlete’s bone quality may affect handball-throwing performance, suggesting that specific training aimed at improving bone quality would be of use to players.


DXA Body dimensions Predictor Bone Testing Random Forests Variable selection 



F.P. and V.C. were in the doctoral programme “Multimodal Imaging in Biomedicine” at the University of Verona. We would like to thank all the players in the handball teams who assisted with data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were approved by local IRB and were in accordance with the national ethical standards and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed written consent was obtained from all parents/guardians of participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Piscitelli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chiara Milanese
    • 1
  • Marco Sandri
    • 1
  • Valentina Cavedon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carlo Zancanaro
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Anthropometry and Body Composition, Department of Neurological and Movement SciencesUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Doctoral Programme in Multimodal Imaging in BiomedicineUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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