17 Aug. 2019
Anyone going early enough to watch a handball match live in person will see players running through a number of physical and sporting drills before the game as the players prepare to do battle on court.
These warm-ups are normally away from the TV and livestream cameras, taking place in the hour before the match and every team has a different way of doing things.
Countries deploy a variety of different methods to loosen up the body and minds of their players. At the IHF Men’s Trophy – Intercontinental Phase in Kosovo last April, Nigeria played their own choice of music with the whole squad and coaches dancing along, Japan’s youth women practised rolling over at Slovakia 2016 and most Korean squads vocalise loudly every part of their pre-match preparation.
Hungary, who play France tomorrow for fifth place at the 2019 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in North Macedonia, have their own specific method.
Their Strength and Conditioning Coach Daniel Lattenstein is an early presence on court, his ever-present whistle in hand - or mouth – as he guides his team through a number of drills, reaching a crescendo of activity before he retires to the spectator seats as the players start their ball-handling warm up.
With a short blast on his whistle every step of the way, firstly he gets the players to gently rub their sternum and heads before moving into two rows and running through stretching exercises. After some sprint work and an explosion of energy it then winds down with smiles on all faces before he congratulates each player in his own personal way, either through chest bumps or special handshakes.
“It’s a kind of wake-up drill for the central nervous system,” said Lattenstein to IHF.info about the first part of his warm-up. “It’s called ‘RPR’ – reflexive performance reset. It’s the Zone 1 phase and a really simple drill.
“The warm-up I do is kind of a North American style, where we have the central activation, dynamic stretching, muscle activation and then simple running drills. Altogether, it’s a simple warm-up so it’s not a specific one, it’s like what is used in every sport.”
Lattenstein played handball for 11 years as a left-handed right wing, before finishing with the Veszprem Academy at the age of 16. After this, he started doing weightlifting and cross-fit and studied at the Hungarian University of Physical Education in Budapest, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Kinesiology.
As part of his warm-up, the whistle is king and Lattenstein himself not only shows what he wants his players to do, he enacts it himself and he has relished the chance to be at a world championship, observing other nations and styles relating to his work.
“Of course, I am happy with our routine, but I have been looking at all the teams,” he said. “The German team are doing some interesting warm-ups.
“Using the whistle is about organisation and with this, everything is in a normal order and I like it. It’s better to whistle than shout because everyone listens to the whistle and they hear it easily.
“I always do the warm-up which I am asking them to do myself because it’s all about motivation; if I am motivated then they will be as well.”