Rehband had the opportunity to speak with Norwegian professional handball player Amanda Kurtovic. With multiple championship medals such as Olympic gold and bronze, Kurtovic has definitely made an impressive career and won silver in the 2017 World Championships in Germany. Read more about her road to success and way back from injuries below.
Kurtovic explains that the first big championship of her career was the 2011 World Championship in Brazil. Norway seized the gold medal and at the time Kurtovic was merely 20 years old. Her motivation to work even harder and many opportunities arose after the win.
“I love team sports and when you win you have at least 16 others on the court to share it with.”
Kurtovic’s professional journey and career started early on, but unfortunately included some injuries:
“I left Norway when I was 21 years old and spent two unlucky years in Denmark. I was injured throughout the stay. I would say I was proud of how I managed these two years. I wouldn’t have done it any differently today. I practiced twice as much as everyone else and I never gave up. Even though there were days when I wanted to, I never did. The hardships and struggle made me learn a lot about myself as a person, I became stronger from the experience. Especially mentally.”
What does it take to reach your level in handball?
“It requires that you never become satisfied. Always strive to become better, every single day. But it’s also important to not take on more than what you can handle. For me, this has been about having smaller goals on the way. Either in the gym or on the handball court. It gives you that extra motivation to work even harder when you reach the goal. Mentally it’s important to focus 100% on yourself, and not on everybody else. Believe that you can succeed in everything and if you don’t succeed the first time, try again”.
How do you prepare for an important game?
“On the game day itself, I like to relax and think about something completely different than handball. It can be taking a longer walk, listening to a podcast, drinking coffee, reading a good book at a café or just relaxing on the sofa with a series. All other preparations have been made the day prior to the game.”
In regards to what qualities are needed when playing at a high professional level, Amanda reveals that handball is a sport which requires intelligence. It’s about making the right choices in a game where the tempo is high. You need 100% presence, focus and commitment.
How would you describe yourself as a handball player?
“Smooth, smart and technical.”
You are a strong female role model and many young handball players look up to you. Why is that important to you?
“I have been there myself. I know how crazy important it is with good role models and players to look up to and whom you want to be as good as. It’s an honour to be a role model for so many young players.”
How would you describe the frequency of injuries within handball?
“It’s a tough and physical sport, one of the toughest. We shoot hard, play with a high tempo and speed, fast turn-arounds, stops and starts. That gives a lot of strain and wear and tear, especially on knees, ankles and shoulders. Which can result in both overuse and acute injuries.”
Amanda elaborates on the fact that injury prevention is a common and growing topic today, especially among young players.
“I wish it had been as big of a focus when I was young… Injury prevention is a commonly discussed topic due to children and young athletes often being pressured in too young ages to play more than their bodies can take on. This leads to demotivation and that the happiness and fun that the sport gives, disappears, but may also result in injuries that could have been preventable.”
What injuries have you suffered from and how did they occur?
“I have, like everybody else, had a few minor injuries. Dislocated finger, sprains, strains etc. But the most serious I’ve had is PCL, a dislocated shoulder and a concussion. It took a long time to come back from those injuries.”
The rehabilitation has gone well, but Kurtovic emphasizes that an enormous amount of patience and tenacity is needed.
“Sometimes you don’t get the results you’d wished for, old injuries can come back, making it easy to loose motivation. But in those periods, it’s important to show what you’re made of. There’s no short cut to success, and that’s especially true in regards to rehabilitation. The exercises received from doctors or physios shouldn’t ‘just’ be done, but done in a correct way, in order to get results.”
What is Rehband to you?
“Rehband’s products mean that I can give ‘the little extra’ at practice and during games. The products warm-up your body parts fast so that you can get more out of practices and games – they also protect against hits and falls.”
What would you say the benefits of using protective supports are?
“They make it possible to go on maximum speed from start to end, enabling you to reach your potential as a handball player. Products which give warmth and compression to certain areas make you perform better and faster.”
What tips would you give to other players trying to avoid injuries?
“Some injuries you cannot avoid, the acute ones. That’s the backside of the medals, and the incredibly tedious side of being an athlete. But some injuries are actually preventable by for example adding a few injury preventing exercises in the warm-up in the handball practice or in strength training. It’s also important to listen your body and to take all signals seriously. Something you maybe didn’t think was so dangerous could potentially develop into something long-term and long-lasting.“
Rehband offers a wide range of products that are well suited for handball, Amanda is wearing the PRN Knee Pad in the pictures. Read more about the sportswear that has perforated protection pads dispensing pressure from impact evenly, keeping players safe on the field.
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