Auburn University a Possible Future IHF Academy

Oct. 20, 2016, 2:21 p.m. (ET)

The Auburn University School of Kinesiology and USA Team Handball hosted the second phase of the International Handball Federation’s (IHF) Global Coaching Clinic from May 19 – May 25 at Auburn University.

Auburn, which was designated as an official U.S. Olympic Training Site in 2015, welcomed 15 international coaches from eight Pan American countries aiming to earn their official global coaching certification from the IHF at the conclusion of the clinic. All coaches were nominated by their National Federations to attend.

The clinic included a combination of practical demonstrations with the USA Men’s National Team and theoretical lessons from Javier Garcia Cuesta, USA MNT head coach; Dr. Frantisek Taborsky from the Czech Republic; Dietrich Spate from Germany; Dr. Zoltan Marczinka of Hungary; and world champion goalkeeper, Alexandru Buligan of Romania.

Over the course of the week, professors and doctoral students from the School of Kinesiology shared with the coaches some of the sports science aspects of performance optimization and injury prevention. Dr. Dave Pascoe spoke to the coaches about the importance of hydration and the impacts of heat stress. He also talked about some of the steps that Auburn takes so that their athletes avoid dehydration or overheating.

The coaches were also given a tour of the School of Kinesiology labs and a biomechanics presentation by Drs. Wendi Weimer and Gretchen Oliver. Weimar and one of her Ph.D. students, Chris Wilburn, discussed the role that footwear, shoe lacing, and socks play in lower extremity biomechanics. Dr. Oliver explained her research on upper extremity biomechanics including handball jump shot kinematics with a demonstration from USA Women’s National Handball Team players Jence Rhoads and Sarah Gascon.

Ph.D. student and USA Team Handball strength and conditioning coach, Cody Haun, explained the purpose of weight lifting and the science behind training to increase force and velocity. He also demonstrated proper squatting technique and other ideal lifts to produce powerful handball athletes.

The classroom sessions also covered youth handball integration in schools and clubs, the five new rules that the IHF is implementing in handball this year, as well as age and gender-specific training considerations and team dynamics.

At the end of the week, each coach was required to take a test on all the material they had learned from the two clinics, the first of which had been held in Mexico City a few months before the Auburn clinic. Fourteen of the coaches in attendance passed and received their global coaching certification. Four coaches from the USA attended and earned their certification, including Tony Kostresvki, Mark Ortega, Craig Rot, and Julio Sainz.

Dr. Frantisek Taborsky, executive member of the IHF Executive Committee, was pleased with the hospitality and resources of Auburn University.

“It is very impressive to see Auburn’s campus,” he said. “All the facilities are very nice. The people here are very nice, helpful, and involved. A lot of professors came to participate and the equipment of Kinesiology is incredible. They do a lot of activities with a relatively small number of people.”

“The unexpected gifts were also very nice, including shirts, shoes, and the AO-Tourism basket in the hotel. Javier (Garcia Cuesta), Mike (Cavanaugh), Julio (Sainz), Dave (Pascoe), and Kristin (Roberts) are very important people. The USA handball team is working well and is very disciplined.”

GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR AUBURN

At the end of the clinic, the university and USA Team Handball received exciting news. The IHF announced that they would like to establish an IHF Academy for Pan-America at Auburn. The first academy was established in Shanghai, China, and the second in Beijing, China. The academy aims to develop coaching education materials and events, and to work with youth to grow the sport of Olympic handball.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Dr. Dave Pascoe. “The IHF Academy fulfills the university’s teaching mission by helping create and implement handball coaching courses and certification. It also contributes to outreach by developing the grassroots game in local schools and giving kids an opportunity to play an exciting and relatively inexpensive Olympic sport. Eventually we see this becoming a collegiate sport in the United States and providing scholarship opportunities for students to continue their education and athletic endeavors. Once we have at least four teams at the collegiate club level in the SEC, we can attempt to make it a varsity NCAA sport. Lastly, being a center for Pan-American handball will provide international research opportunities and collaboration for our faculty, while expanding the sport of handball.”

Further discussions about establishing the IHF Academy at Auburn University will take place after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, in August.