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layers have often asked me for advice on ways to improve their handball game. After much thought, I decided that this subject would be better handled by getting input from some of LAFD’s

fi nest. While researching this article, I found that good players share sev- eral common habits that are included in this article. I started by talking to Tati Silveyra (World Champion, National

Champion, Professional) and he enthusiastically said play as often as pos- sible, play against people of equal skill when you are starting out, and enjoy the competition. He emphasized that you need to play frequently to improve. I found that you must practice to improve your game. Many play-

ers think that playing is practice. Nothing could be further from the truth. Practice is practice! Get your headphones on and get on the court by yourself to work on skills. Rex Villaubi recommends that you practice shots with your off-hand three times for every one time that you use your dominant hand. Jerry Puga and Jonathan Stevens both recommend throwing a soft- ball to develop your throwing motion and strength on your off-hand. Puga further recommends placing marks/targets on the wall and throwing for ac- curacy.

I was taught to master one shot at a time. Eddie Marez states that

players are too concerned about hitting kill shots. They should focus on get- ting in a good pre-shot position and striking the ball at the lowest point. He further stated that it is not necessary to hit every ball hard - placement is more important. Joe Castro stated that his game improved tremendously when he stopped pounding the ball every shot. Accuracy and variety are bet- ter tools. A smooth stroke allows you to relax your hand and bend your knees and follow through for a clean shot. John Libby has a philosophy that the serve is 75% of success on

offense. As the server, you have the advantage and you should develop a variety of serves, including the lob, and practice until you are accurate. Most players return a repeat serve to the same location on the court. You can use the anticipated return of serve as a set up for a scoring opportunity. Eddie Marez states that players should never waste a serve. Always serve with your strong hand, and try to be accurate with your placement. Work on an aspect of your game every time you step on the court.

If you are playing a much stronger player, focus on doing one thing well (i.e. returning serve with ceiling ball, returning serve with passing shot, hitting every ball to your opponents weak hand etc.). When playing a less skilled opponent, take the opportunity to develop your off hand or practice a new shot.

John Libby mentioned a well-worn quote: “Shoot for show! Pass for Dough!” Remember that the best shot in handball is a passing shot. You


are more likely to successfully complete a passing shot than a “kill shot” because there is very little “margin for error” when executing a kill shot. Eddie Marez also stated that you should only swing hard when you have a good shot that you have practiced. Some of the best advice that I ever received was that the game

is played with your legs. Rex Villaubi emphasized that you must be in top shape, and move your body into position so the ball is in your strike zone before each shot. Johnathan Stevens emphasized that players should play the full

spectrum of handball (4-wall, 3-wall, 1-wall, small ball and big-ball). This will expand your variety of shots and your court awareness. Also, don’t be afraid to play the matches that you think you will loose. That’s when you learn.

Chris Yokoyama emphasized that a good warm up routine is a

must. Practice your throws and a variety of shots. He further stated that court position is key. Always try to control the frontcourt. Ryan Carlos advises players to play as frequently as possible.

Muscle memory is key to making shots. Play less skilled players 2 on 1 to improve your conditioning, and use the opportunity to practice off hand shots.

Eddie Marez stated that when he has his opponent running and

diving to retrieve the ball, he is in control of the rally. Don’t rush and take a bad shot.

Don’t try new shots or serves during a match! Play with the skills

that you already mastered. I actually won a tournament in the “C” Division using only a lob serve and fl y kill shot. Be sure and warm up until you have a full sweat for tournament games and ladder matches. Failure to properly warm up will give your opponent an early lead that you may not overcome. Don’t waste your warm-up. Practice your shots and accuracy during warm- up. Play hard all the time! Watch videos, read books, play in USHA tournaments, and Prac-

tice, Practice, Practice.

news and notes Jerry Puga (FS 26-A) is now #12 on the Department Ladder after

defeating Chris Hart (FS 26-C) who is now #15. The Top Station Challenge between FS 2 and FS 92 is now under

way, with each team winning one match. T-shirts are being made! Stay tuned for updates. Spring Doubles start in April, get a partner and start practicing!

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