Handball Tactics: Basic Handball Strategy

Learn basic strategy and tactics for playing handball, including the best shots, when to apply them, and how to set up the opponent.

We'll assume a general knowledge of handball and its rules. There are several court variations (four-wall, three-wall, one wall, Big Ball), but our strategy discussion should work for all. We'll cover shotmaking, strategy of play and serving.

Tough Shots

Obviously, you want to hit shots that are difficult to return - here are a few.

Hit to the Opponent's Weak Hand

If your opponent has a weak side (usually the left, if right-handed), hit the ball there. However, note that in "gentleman's" games, the serve is hit alternately to the left and right sides; this doesn't prohibit you from hitting non-serve shots to the weak hand. But don't hit to the weak hand excessively, because it makes your shots predictable.

Kill Shot

In the kill shot (also called ground ball), the ball hits the front wall just above the floor, and the ball "dies" so the opponent can't get to it in time. The best opportunity to hit a kill shot is when the ball is close to the ground - if the ball is above the waist, hit to one of the corners instead. A great time to hit a kill shot is a ball that comes off the back wall, since it has lost much of its speed. Follow the shot off the wall, hitting it at knee level or below. If you're at mid-court, a poorly hit ball can be hit for a kill shot, but you should aim for a corner in this case. If you are in the frontcourt and the opponent hits a kill shot, you can counter with a kill shot - a reaction shot - and try to fight it off it against the wall. Take kill shots when the opportunity presents itself, rather than trying to make every shot a killer.


For this shot, hit the ball softly so it hits the front wall gently, falling just in front of the wall. This is best done when you're near the front wall yourself. If the opponent doesn't miss that shot, it sets them up for a follow-on smash that makes them run back away from the wall.

Wall Hugger

Hit the ball so that it returns parallel to and very close to the wall, making it difficult to return. Best used when you are near the wall yourself.


The ultimate shot - hits the front wall and the floor at the same time, rolling weakly on the floor instead of bouncing.

Ceiling Shot

This shot hits the ceiling, front wall, then bounces over the opponent's head.

Serve to Win

Rather than using the serve merely as a way to put the ball into play, cultivate a serve that will win the point; an "ace." With your serve, get the opponent on the defensive and keep them there. Vary the speed and location of your serves.

When receiving the serve, try to drive the opponent out of the frontcourt area with your return; otherwise they'll have the advantage and you'll be on the defensive.

Other Strategies - General Tips

* Keep the opponent guessing - don't always make the same shot in the same situation.

* Study your opponent's warmup - often they will show you their best shots.

* If you're playing official games, take timeouts at the proper times - for example, if you opponent is on a hot streak, take a timeout to let them cool down.

* In team play, shoot to the known weakness of the weaker player. Alternately, it may be good strategy to serve to the strongest player, keeping him in the backcourt, then making a strong return to the weaker player.

* Wear down the opponent - by hitting shots on alternate sides of the court and alternating shots close to the front wall and toward the back wall, the opponent will get tired.

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