Rehband met with Niclas Ekberg, one of the top handball players and the Team Captain of the Swedish National Team. Niclas also plays for THW Kiel, one of the best teams to play for as a professional handball player and a dream come true for Niclas.
“…I’m living my dream. My dream as a young handball player was to play for THW Kiel, and now I’ve had the opportunity to do so for 5 years”, – Niclas Ekberg says with pride.
Niclas began playing handball at the age of 11, and he was an active child who also played both soccer and floorball. Niclas believes in the importance of trying different sports as a kid and says, “I’ve always advocated that you should do as many different sports as possible, for as long as possible. No sport is similar to the other, and you use different muscle groups for different things.”
At one point early in his career he almost decided to quit handball due to his size.
“When I was 15 I almost quit because I was very small. I grew late and I couldn’t hold the ball, so I didn’t get much time on the court to play and it wasn’t fun. I was pretty good at soccer as well, and there my size didn’t matter as much,” Niclas explains. He tells us that it was his coach who convinced him to continue, which he is thankful for today. During this time he had to develop other skills to make up for the disadvantage of his size. These skills turned into great advantages when he finally grew, and distinguished him from other players.
Niclas has been playing in the Swedish National Team for almost 11 years and for THW Kiel for almost 6 years. He believes that handball is a tough spectacular sport with a lot of body contact. Sometimes hard collisions occur between two opponents. “… afterwards you just shake each other’s hands and say sorry, and then you continue playing. There are no hard feelings, it is a very fair sport in that sense,” he explains.
“Many people describe me as a goal getter – and I guess that’s true, I’ve always scored a lot of goals,” Niclas explains when asked about what type of a player he is. Niclas emphasizes the importance of not letting your emotions take over on the court and the merit of fair play. “I hope and believe that I can be a good role model, it has always been my goal that younger players can look up to the values I have on the court.” When asked what advice he would give to himself as a young handball player, Niclas says that he would advise himself not to give up and further says, “It is hard work. It’s a common cliché, but there are no shortcuts.”
Niclas plays right wing, a position associated with high speed, flexibility and the ability to jump high. These qualities, combined with the fact that Niclas is left handed, make the position as right wing player a natural fit for him.
Niclas knows what it’s like to get back to the game after being injured. In the summer of 2016 he broke his metatarsal, a bone in the middle part of the foot, and needed surgery. Due to a talented physio coach, his own persistence and an active rehabilitation he was back playing handball after only eight weeks.
Niclas often wears Rehband compression socks and sleeves, and likes the thin material they are made of. It is important for him to use products which do not inhibit his movements. During his rehabilitation he also used them while running in water, something he did to be able to keep his cardio up while rehabilitating from his injury. This was of great importance in order to be in the best shape possible when the time came to start playing handball again. “I don’t believe that the actual healing process was accelerated, but the step from when my injury had healed until I was able to play handball again was, since I was in good shape in regards to cardio”.
Preventative training is a large part of an elite handball player’s preseason training, Niclas explains. For instance, their preseason training focuses on stability exercises for knees and ankles and also on cardio workouts in order to avoid injuries. Since handball is such a contact-heavy sport and your body is exposed to a lot of pressure, Niclas believe it to be one of the reasons why injuries sometimes occur within handball. This is why it is of great importance to be prepared and constantly train to prevent potential injuries.
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