Teaching Young Players the Secrets of Successful Handball in Australian Football

Handball is one of the two ways in which a player can dispose of a football legally in Australian Football. Initially, it was used to dispose of the football when the player was tackled and unable to kick the ball. It was developed into an attacking weapon during the 1950s by Geelong’s super star ruckman, Polly Farmer.

This article is not about the technical skill of handballing but rather it is designed to advice the coach of junior players on how best to use handball effectively both in attacking and defensive situation.

It is important that right from the beginning, young players must practice equally handballing with both hands. This can be achieved by creating pairs of players in lines, two metres apart, handballing to each other with alternate hands and then gradually extending the distance between the players to lengthen the handball. This should be a regular practice activity. This activity allows the players to handle the football many times in a short time. Obviously, the players should be taught how to handball correctly. The players should also practice different types of hand balls- the rocket handball as well as the one the rolls end over end.











Once the warm-up handball exercise is completed, simulate handballing in a game type situation. During these simulations, insist that the players do the following to enhance the effectiveness of their handball.

Players must aim the football chest high in front of their team mate. They should aim the football into the space in front of their team mate forcing the player to accelerate to catch the football. This will help that player avoid being tackled by an opponent.

The football should float in a slow looping movement to make it easy for the team mate to catch the football.

The player with the football should always turn towards the player to whom he/she is handballing.

The handballing player must follow the handball to retrieve a poor delivery, shepherd the team mate receiving the football and/or receive a follow-up handball.

It is important that the player wanting the handball should call loudly for the football and the handballing player should acknowledge that call.

It is important to stress that players should never handball to a player close by because he/she will be under pressure and likely to be tackled. It is better to handball in space in front of your close team mate forcing him/her away from the defender and after the ball. For this type of situation, teach your players to handball so that the football will roll end over end bouncing up r