IHF website upgrade includes useful video analysis and nonsensical national rankings

Last October, I was flabbergasted by the International Handball Federation (IHF) going an incredible 42 days without an update to their webpage. The IHF took a lot of criticism, but made a commitment and signed a contract for a much needed web update. Last month the IHF unveiled this much needed new look. Without question it’s a significant improvement on the old site in terms of style and aesthetics even if it is mostly a repackaging of the same information.

But in at least one area (Video analysis) the IHF deserves credit for providing handball followers new and useful information. At the recently completed Women’s Junior World Championship several short videos analyzing play are now available for download. The videos are edited with captions and use slow-motion to highlight strategy and techniques used during the tournament. While these videos are not the quality of a “Sports Center” breakdown they are pretty decent and should be informative for coaches and players. The videos also are a little hard to find, so follow the links at the bottom.

But, while I find the videos a nice addition I can’t help but be amused and perplexed by the national team rankings prominently displayed on the homepage. The methodology for these rankings are not explained and most visitors would probably assume that it is a rough measure of how National Teams currently stand performance wise perhaps using some weighted formula taking into account recent competitions. But, as the French Men’s team, currently in the midst of one of the more dominating runs in the history of the sport is listed as the 6th best Men’s side that’s obviously not the case. No instead, it appears to be a compendium of historical performance which even includes the 11 a side outdoor game played at the 1936 Olympics.

I suppose this is mildly interesting, but it would have been much better to have come up with a ranking system that’s focused on recent performance. Other sports, such as soccer and rugby have been using rankings like this for years. While the formulas used for those sports have also resulted in questionable rankings, they usually have been in the ballpark and are a useful marker for nations to assess where they stand compared to their peers. Hopefully, the IHF will rethink the rankings and come up with a new system to reflect this.

THN Commentary (1 Oct 09): 42 Days and Counting: IHF misses the boat on self promotion and new media
THN Commentary (21 Oct 09): IHF to seek more progressive web presence: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.852

IHF Home page: www.ihf.info
IHF: IHF website offers new content and new design: http://www.ihf.info/TheIHF/Organization/President/Wordfromthepresident/tabid/1719/Default.aspx
IHF Women’s WC Analysis (Article): http://www.ihf.info/MediaCenter/News/NewsDetails/tabid/130/Default.aspx?ID=388
IHF: Women’s Junior WC Video Analysis:

IHF Rankings: http://www.ihf.info/TheGame/RankingTable/tabid/98/Default.aspx
IHF Rankings Spread Sheet: http://www.ihf.info/files/ranking/EWIGEBES.XLS (Extra credit to any reader that can explain what all the numbers mean in this file)