What's So Great About Handball?
Remember the good old days of elementary school and all those fun games you played at recess and in PE class? Four Square. Kickball. Dodgeball. Handball. Which one was your favorite? Mine was always handball.
For those who don’t know, handball is a game in which players use their hands to hit a rubber ball against a wall in such a way that their opponent cannot do the same before the ball touches the ground twice.
There are three versions of the game: four-wall, three-wall and one-wall. Each version can be played either by two players (singles), three players (cutthroat), or four players (doubles).
Handball has become increasingly popular over the course of the last century. National championships in handball have been held in the U.S. annually since 1919. And games like racquetball, squash, fives, four-wall and one-wallpaddleball were all heavily influenced by handball.
What I found out recently that surprised me, though, was that handball’s not just a lot of fun but genuinely beneficial for children.
Here’s what I found:
- When kids play a game of handball – having to move around the court and hit the ball quickly with their hands – they develop better hand-eye coordination and concentration. That’s to be expected, of course. What I didn’t realize is that improved hand-eye coordination has benefits in the classroom as well, improving children’s reading and writing skills among other things.
- Just like with any other ball game, playing handball helps children develop proprioception. Proprioception is the body's ability to sense movement through its joints and joint position. In other words, it will enable your kids to know where their limbs are in space without having to look. This is important for everyday movements such as walking and running, where it reduces clumsiness, and helps children feel more confident and in control of their bodies.
- Playing handball increases kids’ flexibility and agility. Children are constantly bending, twisting, turning, and stretching while playing, which yields a flexible body able to bend and move without becoming injured. Surprisingly, research has found that this increased flexibility results in greater confidence, improved posture, and reduced stress as well.
- More obviously, handball is a fast-paced game, which means lots of running. This running along with the turning and “slamming” means that countless muscles get a vigorous workout that improves your child’s strength and cardiovascular health.
- As with any game of its type, handball helps teach children self-regulation through its rules and reliance on competitive and cooperative play. Well-learned self-regulation means your kids will be able to manage their actions and emotions better, which can lead to improved behavior in the classroom and better social skills, including taking turns, sharing goals and responsibilities, and living with disappointment.
- When kids are enjoying a game of handball, they are also learning to cooperate with others. They learn how to communicate effectively, to compromise, and to appreciate fair play. And let’s not forget that good sportsmanship on the school playground today will reveal itself as integrity as an adult tomorrow.
After reading a list of benefits this big it’s hard not to say yes to a game of handball with your kid, even if they haven’t finished their homework and chores.
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