Handball Instructional

This is the original Southern California Handball website created in June 1996
and last udated in May 2000. Click here to see the current updated site.

Fred Chapman on Unknown or Misunderstood Rules

When serving, 2 consecutive screen balls is a fault; 2 more is a side out.

You can hold up on your shot if you think you will hit your opponent and request a hinder from the referee.

If you miss the ball and it hits your opponent, it's your point. It doesn't matter if you have no chance to retrieve it. It's still in play.

When your shot hits your opponent, the referee should give you the benefit of the doubt even if there is only a remote chance the ball would strike the front wall.

Avoidable hinders do not involve intent. You must give your opponent a straight shot to the front wall and sufficient room to swing at the ball.

A six-foot-high serve that passes very close by the server and offers the receiver a set-up off the back wall may not be a screen serve depending on the reaction of the receiver.

Don't call hinders too quickly unless there will be contact. Watch the complete shot to determine whether the opponent interfered or not. If you call a hinder too quickly, you could be taking a set up away from the player shooting the ball.

After the referee calls "point" or "side out," the receiver has 10 seconds to get into position. When the receiver is in position, the referee calls the score and the server has 10 seconds to put the ball in play.

A point is deducted for every technical.

Luis Marquez on Injury and Rehabilitation

To avoid bone bruises on your hands, warm up your hands by hitting the ball until the pain is gone. To protect existing bone bruises make a pad using 5 strips of tape then secure it to your hand. Don't tape the joints; you won't be able to bend your fingers.

For tennis elbow, use warm-up sleeves and ice after playing. Neoprene supports keep joints warm and swelling down.

Shoulder injuries are caused by hitting the ball improperly or by making quick movements to return unexpected shots. To avoid this type of injury, get into proper position before hitting the ball; and serve using your whole body, not just your arm. Because inflammation causes pain and delays recovery, the best treatment for a sore shoulder is to put a plastic bag filled with ice and a cup of water on your shoulder for 12-15 minutes every 3 hours or until the swelling goes down. Don't use heat until the second or third day. Then, alternate heat with the ice pack ending with ice.

Luis Marquez on Anticipating your Opponent's Shot

Wear eye guards; watch the ball.

Watch your opponent.

Try to stay in front center court, don't back up.

Keep your body moving and your knees bent; don't stop and stand still.

Don't over commit; stay flexible.

Learn what shots your opponent can hit from specific places on the court.

Rich Robitaille on The Fly Kill and Backwall Shots

The fly kill has the advantage over a backwall shot when your opponent is behind you. Keep your eye on the ball. The ball must be going downward. Move into the ball. Bend your knees. Direct the shot with your feet. Shoot at the level of your knees. If the ball is higher than your knees, shoot a pass shot or take it off the backwall.

Practice backwall shots when you're not playing. Move back with the ball to the backwall. Then move forward with it so you're not reaching back or forward when you hit the ball. Direct the shot with your feet.

Matt Kelly on Positioning and Form

Your game will be more consistent if you use the proper from when hitting the ball.

Take many, little adjusting steps to get into optimum position before hitting the ball.

If the ball hops or takes an unexpected bounce, shoot a defensive shot.

When shooting, use a flat swing. Your stroke should be parallel to the floor and as close to it as possible. When you point your fingers to the side, you have the best chance of hitting a good shot. When you point your fingers down to the floor as in the "shovel shot," you have the poorest chance of hitting a good shot.

When serving, stroking the ball at 45 degree angle is OK. The serve is the most important shot in the game. Serve for the ace. Don't worry if you serve a lot of short balls.

Hit backwall shots off your front foot.

When stroking the ball, always follow through, push through the shot.

Build strength in your legs; strong legs help you to get into proper position and take the strain off your arm.

Practice your serve, flykill and backwall so they become your weapons in a match.

Save a special shot as a hidden weapon; use it to surprise your opponent at a critical time in the match.

Matt Kelly on Practicing Shots

There are 3 types of shots to practice. Shots you hit below your waist, between your waist and shoulder, and over your shoulder.

Turn sideways to hit ceiling shots. Practice your off-hand ceiling shot by first throwing the ball to the ceiling.

Hit the fist shot between your knees and waist. Never hit a fist shot above your waist.

Wrap-around shots are defensive only.

Bill Hansen on Serving

90% of handball is mental. Plan your strategy 3 points ahead.

Set the stage with your serve. Place your serves so that your opponent's return will set up your next shot. The best serves are close down the side walls. Lob serve both overhand and underhand.

Shoulder-high off-hand shots are the most difficult for most people.

When hopping the ball, follow through to keep from hurting your arm.

Bob Mathews on Passing and Ceiling Shots

Wait as long as possible before hitting a pass shot. Strike the ball as close to the floor as you can. Don't let your pass shots hit the backwall.

On ceiling shots try for the greatest downward angle as close to the corners as possible.

Force the action of play. Move your opponent back, then shoot the kill shot. If your opponent moves up, then pass him. Hit ceiling shots when you're in trouble and need an effective defensive shot.

Jack Hulick on Kill Shots

Hit the fly kill every chance you get.

The lower you make contact, the lower it will stay to the floor after it hits the front wall.

Soft kill shots don't come back to your opponent.

Practice the kill shot when warming up for your match. Shoot kill shots straight to the front wall keeping them as low to the floor as possible, frontwall-sidewall keeping the ball down, and sidewall-frontwall keeping the ball as close as possible to the front wall.

Jim Barnett on Doubles Strategy

Get a great player for a partner!

Find your opponents' weaknesses by scouting them before the match: the left corner, above the shoulder, can't dig kills, endurance, etc. You may find that your opponents might have open level abilities in some parts of the court and only B level abilities in other parts of the court.

Establish before the match your playing positions on the court: the traditional left rear/right front formation or the "I" formation with one player in front of the other.

Talk with your partner during the match. Once you say "mine" don't change your mind.

Left side player should play offensively. Right side player should play defensively.

Doubles is won is the front court.

Move your opponents out of their positions.

With left-handed/right handed opponents, shoot down the middle.

Always be ready to cover for your partner.

Right side players shouldn't use their left hand with a right-handed partner; but with a left-handed partner, it's OK. Right side players should face toward the right wall so they are always set up for taking shots with their right arm. This will also make it easier for them to keep their left out of play.

Right side player should try to pass on the left to set up his partner.

If the right side player is significantly weaker than his partner, he should try to play consistently and always get the ball back.

Luis Marquez: Shots off the right wall should be played by the left side player. If the right side player takes the shot, it puts both players out of position.

Jim Vandenbos: Play as a team; let your partner play their shots.

Tom Fitzwater on Singles Strategy

Always be moving toward the center of the court. Try to maintain the center position with your opponent behind you. Keep your opponent moving and off balance. Try to keep him from getting set up. Use court to your advantage, especially glass walls if your opponent is not used to them. Score as much as possible with the least physical effort.

In serving, exploit your opponent's weaknesses. Mix up your serves.

On the return of service, get your opponent out of the service box with a ceiling or wraparound shot.

Be patient. Use defensive shots and wait for a set up before you hit your offensive shots. You may be known for shooting a particular shot better than other players. But any shot, kill, pass or ceiling, is only as effective as your opponent's inability to return it. Your best shot is always the one that is the most effective against the opponent you are playing at the moment. Change your pattern of shots so your opponent can't frequently anticipate what you will do.

Don't shoot when your opponent is in front of you. He should be at least the same distance from the front wall as you before you shoot. When you have a court position advantage over your opponent, kill shots don't have to be as low; they can be up to 4-6" high. Use the corners for kills to keep the ball down. Straight in kills come up and give opponent a chance to return the ball.

Try to anticipate where your opponent's shot is going, kill, ceiling, etc., so you can move into position more quickly. Diving for a shot works best in singles; but generally it's best to stay on your feet.

Use time-outs to catch your breath and break your opponent's scoring runs.

Luis Marquez: Get your opponent to make the first mistake.

If you set up your opponent, move up with him to discourage him from shooting the kill or if he does anyway, it will force him to shoot it lower and possibly hit the floor.

Jim Vandenbos: Play to your opponent's weakness more than from your strengths.

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