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How to Play Handball

written by: Stephanie Michael • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 7/5/2011

When I was a kid I used to watch kids play handball against the wall of our school but I never played and never thought about the health benefits involved with this fast paced game. Read on to learn how to play handball by yourself or with up to three other friends.

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    What you Need to Know

    Handball is a fun, easy to play game that can be modified by the players to suit your needs. For example, some games are played until someone scores seven points, while other games can go until as many as twenty-one points are scored. You can also customize the game based on the area you are using. For example, if you only have one wall then you play with one wall but if you have a room with four walls and a ceiling, you can incorporate all those surfaces into the game. Once you decide how you're going to play handball, the most important part is having fun.

    Handball is an excellent game for improving cardiovascular health, hand eye coordination, and upper and lower body strength. The constant running, twisting, and bending can help you work out while having fun. Just make sure you’re in fairly good health to begin with because the intensive workout you get while playing handball could injure you if your body is not used to working out.

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    What you Need to Start

    Although they do make and sell actual handballs, a tennis ball will work just the same. You'll also need a pair of safety goggles for each player, a pair of gloves, and at least one wall. If you can get an actual room to play in, such as a racquetball court, you can use all four walls and the ceiling to play. Lastly, you need players. While handball can be played alone, you can play with one other person to make it a match or two other people to make it a three team game. When adding a fourth person you usually create teams of two people although you can also make it a game with the four of you all playing against one another.

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    Decide on the Rules

    There are so many ways to play the game that it’s important for all the players to be on the same page about the rules. Decide what point you’ll be playing to, whether it is seven to fourteen to twenty one points and decide on what the serve line will be. This is going to be the line you can’t cross while serving. Decide on whether to use Chinese rules, that is the ball is allowed to bounce before hitting the wall, or American rules, where the ball is not allowed to hit the ground before hitting the wall.

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    Playing Handball

    Playing the game is fairly easy. Once you’ve decided the rules of the game, the first player serves the ball. You serve by dropping the ball and hitting it to the wall after it bounces. Once it bounces back from the wall, the other team will hit the ball back using either an open hand or fist technique. Many people suggest using a sideways sweeping motion to get the most power behind the ball. The game continues until one of the players fails to hit the ball, resulting in a point for the other team. In that way, it’s a lot like volleyball or tennis. Players on opposite teams are to stay out of the way of the ball to avoid being a “hinder” to the other team. If you have more than four players who want to play, a tournament can be created, where the winning teams play each other until only one team is left.

    So now that you know how to play handball, remember that like with most games, the most important part is that you play safe and have fun. It is just a game after all.