Handball Information

Insider Info

dotHandball is sometimes called "the chess of the court sports," because the game requires a combination of physical and mental skills.

Handball is played with the same rules as racquetball -- minus the racket and with a smaller and harder ball.

The ball used in handball is hard rubber and is about the size of a golf ball. It is played on either a one-wall, three-wall or four-wall court. A handball game lasts about 45 minutes.

dotHandball was invented before racquetball. As a matter of fact, racquetball was invented by a former head of the United States Handball Association (USHA) and is played on a handball court. Because of the popularity of racquetball, many people think that handball is played on a racquetball court, but it is just the opposite.

Gary Cruz is a letter carrier from Newport Beach, California. He says the sport is sometimes confused with team handball, which is an Olympic sport played mostly in Europe.

dotCruz estimates that 20,000 people play organized handball. That number goes up to 100,000 when you include the people nationwide who play outdoors using any ball that they can find on any wall that is available.

Once a person has reached a competency in the sport, they play as long as they can. Many players are still playing in their 70s.

"There is an estimated two million people who play handball in the world, with most of them here in the U.S., Ireland and Canada," says Mark Carpenter. He is the development coordinator with the USHA.

"The difficulty in getting started in the sport lies in the fact that you need to get your hands in condition to hit the ball, and learn how to hit the ball with your off hand," says Cruz. "It can take upwards to one year before the game is fun."

Cruz summed up the difficulty beginners have with the sport by an analogy. "Imagine if you are right handed, trying to use your left hand for any task that you don't usually use it for -- such as writing," he explains.

"In handball, until you can overcome the coordination required to keep the ball in play with your off hand, you are not competitive. This is the learning curve, and it requires some patience to stay with it. Handball does not have the luxury of the extension a racket gives you, so you must use your head and anticipate where the ball will be and move your feet to get to the ball."

dotAs for careers, Carpenter says there aren't many related to the sport. "There are not a lot of jobs that are full-time employment in the handball field, unless you are working for the governing body of the sport of handball."

He says currently, three full-time employees and three part-time employees work for the USHA. Those interested in careers related to handball could become an instructor at a health club.

The USHA has a pro tour where the top pro makes around $25,000 a year and the average pro pulls in around $6,000. There are six pro stops a year, plus the four-wall nationals, which is like the Super Bowl of handball tournaments, according to Carpenter.

Getting Started

dotThe sport of handball is one of the most affordable games to pick up. "All you need is a ball and a wall," says Carpenter, "and if the player prefers, gloves and eye guards, which we highly recommend for safety reasons."

Steve Grow is a director of information technology from Portland, Oregon. He says the costs associated with the game are minimal.

"All you need are balls, about $2.50 each, gloves, which cost about $20, eye protection which can cost anywhere from $20 to $100, and a court that can range from no fee to up to $10 per hour, depending on where you play," says Grow.

"Once players pick the sport up, they truly embrace it. It is rare for someone to just walk away from the game," says Cruz. "Handball has been around for many more years than racquetball."


U.S. Handball Association
2333 N. Tucson Blvd.
Tucson , AZ   85716
E-mail : handball@ushandball.org

Southern California Handball Association
503 38th St.
Newport Beach , CA   92663


Four Wall Handball Rules
A good summary

Handball History
Links to various articles on the sport