The Nature of Handball: Part lV Handball Drills and Marionettes

Posted on Apr 28 2016 - 2:36pm by DV

NATUREI wish to speak about Al Banuet and one great Handball drill he practiced that taught me well.  This drill will help youngsters and those wishing to advance improve greatly, if utilized properly depending on one’s personality, age, or skill set.

Other drills may help you, instead.  I am not going to attempt to quantify or qualify what is best for any specific Handball athlete.  What Al Banuet taught me may work for only one or two reading these drills, or for several.  We all have different DNA.

We are interested in proper practice and drills that do not waste our time; the goal is maximum improvement swiftly; everyone has a life to live.  There is no time to waste around with poor Handball, but if you are simply playing Handball for exercise and friendship, have a good time and you will have a great time.

[Editor’s note:  Handball was a very popular sport 50 years ago.  Mike Treacy was paid by his sponsors, adjusting for inflation, $72,573.56 a year (seriously) simply and solely to play Handball for the San Francisco Olympic Club when he represented them.

The Olympic Club gave Mike a full time job and said he did not have to do the job at all; just collect the checks and play Handball for them.  They would handle the accounting.

Of course Mike was a rebel and eventually quit the Olympic Club of his own volition, money and lifetime membership be darned, similar to Groucho Marx who resigned from the Friars Club in Beverly Hills because “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” Well, not exactly similar since Groucho was paying dues and Mike was being paid to be a member.

However, Handball has lost popularity since the Halcyon days of yore, decades ago, so let’s excuse (or listen to) Mike’s brief comments below.  Handball is growing again thanks to the hard work of those who love Handball.  /Editors note] …  …

Briefly, there is something I would like to get off of my chest.  Handball was very popular decades ago and I understand the advent of the ‘slow game’ involving long rallies, and numerous timeouts. “Oh my heavens!!!  He just scored 2-3 points in a row!!!  Call a timeout!  Call a timeout!!!!  I need a towel!  Oops, I crapped my pants, I will be back in 10 minutes!!” etc.

But my question is, would Handball continue to regain popularity if the rules were followed more closely by the referees to speed the game up, or at least keep it within the rules, especially at the grass roots level?  Are we going to see Pro boxers now call a timeout when they get knocked down?  No, you got 10 seconds, get up or lose!

So what, you are getting ‘knocked out’ in the Handball tournament match because you did not do your drills by yourself.  Deal with it.  Seriously?  You need a timeout to run out of the court to go cry on your mom’s shoulder?  Maybe you should take up darts, or bowling, or Frisbee golf.  Goodness gracious!

There are men/women currently working to get Handball in the Olympics; Handball is now on ESPN!  The slow pace of play and multiple timeouts is akin to ‘dead time’ on the radio.  People will ‘change stations.’  We all want Handball to grow.

I had a resting heartbeat around 40 beats per minute in my prime Handball years, as many of my peers no doubt, also did.  I and my peers NEVER needed a timeout.

Handball is a metaphor for life; you do not run like a child soiling his pants when times get rough in the Handball court.  You stick it out.  Be a man!  You don’t see the female Handball players pulling this garbage, but generally, they are tougher than us; try having a child, gentlemen.  Again I digress…

What is next?  NASCAR needs to keep their race cars below 15 miles an hour?  The NBA needs to have a 2 minute shot clock instead of 24 seconds?     Oh, how exciting.  At least be a John McEnroe throwing a tantrum in the court if you need a break, for the sake of the audience or television.

The USHA rules are already in place and they can and should be followed!    Pro NFL, NBA, and MLB referees will not allow themselves to be ‘punked’ by Pro athletes making gazillions of dollars, and neither should Handball referees continue to be clowned by players.  I don’t care if he is your good friend.  All bets are off once the game starts.  Buy him a Guinness after the tournament if he loses; at least you were fair and honest.

One doubles team, recently, at a tournament here in San Francisco called a 1 minute timeout and disappeared for 9 minutes!  It was not me refereeing because I would have grabbed a stick and started swinging if I found them.  Bastards.  Anyways, the referee had a stopwatch to prove this.  Were they in the sauna?  Did they want some of the lasagna before it ran out?  Did they eat a couple of bad burritos for dinner the day before in Oakland?

Who knows, but the referee was running all over the place looking for them.  Men (women players also) brought their wives/husbands and kids from over a hundred miles away and the tournament was already over 2 hours behind schedule.  Not fair to players!  According to the rules below, the doubles team waiting in the court, should have been given eight additional points.  Of course, maybe, this USHA rule perhaps should be mentioned before the match starts, as this may help the sport grow more.  Players should know the rules anyways.

For example, in the USHA 1999 year rulebook under à 4. Court Hinders: b.

“Late start penalty. If a player is not ready to play (or resume play) on time, the opponent shall be awarded one point. The opponent will then be awarded one additional point for each full minute of delay of game up to 10 minutes. The match shall then be forfeited. This applies to the start of the match, between-game timeouts, timeouts during a game and glove-change timeouts. Players should stay within earshot of the referee to help prevent the delay-of-game penalty. It is the obligation of the players to be ready to resume play on time even if the referee fails to give time warnings…”

If these rules, already in place are followed, it will be better for Handball, especially at the local level.  There are many who have quit joining tournaments because of this inconvenience.  Maybe these delaying Handball bastards should quit and take up Pinochle instead of destroying the Handball game.

Okay, where were we?  Oh that’s right!  A great drill for us to practice in the Handball court by ourselves.

Muhammad Ali said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Ali never said he hated boxing.  He loved boxing.  He hated training.  Ali trained anyways.  And so will you, by yourself or with a great coach.  Love it while it lasts.

The Handball court is infinite; infinite angles.  We will never learn .0001 percent of the angles, even as a Pro.  So, we learn ONE angle, and perfect it depending on personal preference.  On the serve for starters.  Do not move from the center when serving; perfect your ace serve or hop from the center position!  Perfect the center position, first.  Then learn a few other angles to perfect on the serve, then move left or right for a serve.  We must have a foundation to build upon.  Develop your foundation!

Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Practice that ‘kick’ by yourself numerous times in the court.  Perfect your serve!  And do not worry about your opponent that is also perfecting his ace serve.

So what?  Your adversary might get aces on you but never let that bother you; you will get your aces on him too.  NEVER let a few ace serves get in your head.  You will get yours and it will even out.

Al Banuet would walk around with a deck of cards in his back pocket and a handball in his hand.

He would, in the court, put playing cards on the floor, in the court.  Al would put the cards 6 inches behind the short line on the left wall and the same for the right wall.  Hit the cards on the serve.  You are now learning angles.  Even if missed, you still may have an ace. Aim small, miss small, as the saying goes, and this has been verified by hunters, soldiers, and athletes.

Also, one must have two more cards halfway between the short line and the back wall on both sides.  Do not get me started on the importance of hopping the ball on the serve, because that is for another discussion.

This drill will also translate into your pass shots.  ALL pass shots must hit the crack line between floor and sidewall; that is the goal.  Two more cards are also placed 12 inches from the back wall on both side walls; this is to make sure you never hit a revolving door shot; crack it out.  The revolving door (ball hits floor, then sidewall, then back wall and sits in midair for an easy kill) is one of the worst shots we can hit or serve in Handball.  Practice that back wall crack pass too.

Do each card ten times.  At least.  I could write three more pages on this (especially for kids and beginners) but I want to be concise; it also works for front wall corners as well.  When you are going to the store to buy more decks of cards because you destroyed your last deck in the court hitting all your cards in the damp weather…

Well, you are now improving.


I remember when I was young that Paul “Bear” Bryant, a College football coach for Alabama said, “It’s not the will to win that matters…everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

I can also write more pages about forcing your opponent to recognize that he is simply a marionette when he is in the court with you, because you have been drilling properly, by yourself.

I wish to get into the 4 quadrants of the court and why each quadrant is so important to master that Banuet taught me.

To be continued…

Read all issues: (Nature of Handball is authored and edited by Tim Treacy, chronicalling the memories of Handball Player and Bay Area Legend, Mike Treacy.  A multi-part series that is intended to be put into book form upon completion.)

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV