Selecting The Right Handball Gloves

Selecting the right handball glove will make the difference between winning and losing. Find out the top four options that affect your choice.

No one knows exactly when the first handball game was played, but many wall etchings from Egypt to the Americas depict players striking a ball against a wall. Some of these date back to 2000 B.C. In today's handball, there are only two ways a player is physically connected to the game: the floor of the court through their shoes, and the ball through their gloves. Choosing the right glove will make the difference between winning and losing. The rules of handball demand that a glove be worn on the hand that will contact the ball during play. Several glove regulations will impact your choice. Here are the regulations from the U.S. Handball Association:

Rule 2.3 Gloves

-- A. General. Gloves must be worn.

-- B. Style. Gloves must be light in color and made of a soft material or leather. The fingers may not be webbed, connected or removed.

-- C. Foreign substances. No foreign substance, tape or rubber bands shall be used on the fingers or on the palms on the outside of the gloves. Metal or hard substances may not be worn under the glove if, in the opinion of the referee, it creates an unfair.

-- D. Wet Gloves. Gloves must be changed when they become sufficiently wet to moisten the ball. This is the referee's decision. Gloves with holes that expose the skin may not be worn. It is the player's responsibility to have an ample supply of dry gloves.

Despite these restrictions, you will find many choices in handball gloves, from companies such as Ektelon, Owen, and Saranac. You should consider several variables in choosing the glove that will work best for you.

First, consider how committed you are to playing handball. The pricing of handballs varies generally between $16 and $47, but you do not need to purchase the most expensive to enjoy the game. If you are just starting out and not sure that you intend to play for years, you may want to opt for a less expensive pair.

Once you know how much you are willing to spend, you need to focus on the size. The length of the fingers and the width of the palm are critical. When you hit the ball, you will contact it with your palm and fingers. The fit should be snug, but not tight enough that your hand feels cramped. Remember that leather gloves will stretch with use, so do not buy them too loose. When you try on the gloves, flex your fingers, and try to wear them for enough time to determine if they are going to be comfortable if you need to play in them for 90 minutes. Sizes range from small to extra large, so if you do not find the size you need at your first stop, keep looking.

Third, you will find that gloves come in synthetic and leather, or just leather. If a glove combines leather and synthetic, the leather will be in the palm, the main striking area of the hand on the ball. The synthetic material will be across the back of the hand, usually to provide ventilation. Spandex is a popular material for this purpose. The second type of glove that you can purchase is one that is all leather. Your choice is largely personal: if your hands then to get hot during play, or your hands sweat, you might find that the synthetic material across the back of your hand will help keep your hands cool and more comfortable.

Another important feature is padding. Gloves come with padding in the palm and without. Padded gloves will give you more protection for your palm. Unpadded gloves will give you more "feel" on the ball: in other words, you will probably have more control on the ball, allowing you to employ spins, for example. But just as in tennis, more control comes at the price of greater power. Regardless of whether you decide to use a padded palm, the area should be seamless to ensure that a ball hit is evenly across its surface.

Finally, if you have smaller wrists or you are worried about the gloves slipping from your hand, you may want to purchase a glove that includes a wrist strap. Usually the wrist strap connects using Velcro for easy one-handed release. The U.S. Handball Association has restrictions on gloves that a player can use. With these restrictions in mind, a player has four variables to consider: price, based on frequency of use and length of time; all leather or leather and synthetic material; padded palm or no padding; and wrist strap or no strap. Careful consideration of each option will ensure that you have the best handball glove for your level of play.

© High Speed Ventures 2011