Monday, August 3, 2009

A few words regarding Footwork

This past week at practice we drilled on taking the proper steps with the ball to set yourself up to shoot/pass. Here is a little more explanation on the importance of proper steps:

Footwork can be a challenging adjustment for athletes coming to handball from other sports such as basketball. Namely, players are used to being allowed only two steps with the ball, hence taking three takes time to sink in.

This past practice we discussed players lifting their left foot off the ground before catching the ball each time they receive a pass. (opposite for a lefty) This motion is a mental training suggestion; with your left foot in the air, your first step will be on your left leg. This is important so that on your third step (left, right, left) you'll be on your left leg, which is predominantly your jumping leg. (again, the opposite is true for lefties)

The first step serves a number of purposes in attacking: it brings you closer to the goal, and is also a change in direction around the defender. The step is forward-left, and should be wide enough that, if the defender did not move, you'd be in a position to step past him with your 2nd step. As you take your first step, you're also shifting your weight to the left, and preparing to take advantage of your defender.

The second step is with the right foot, and is one of two places: a) if the defender does not move quickly enough, it is straight toward the goal through the lane you've reached with your first step, or b) if the defender moves into the lane, the second step is forward and back toward the right, again wide enough to position yourself in the lane your defender has opened by moving.

The third step is your plant/take-off step. In either second step scenario, you should be in a lane between defenders, moving towards the goal. So this last step is your opportunity to do one of three things: a) jump (for distance) into the goal area for a breakthrough shot, b) jump (for height & distance) to take a jump-shot, or c) if another defender slides into your lane, make a short pass to your adjacent teammate, who is already moving through the gap opened by the second defender.

Seasoned handball players will tell you that there are other ways to take steps, which vary by situation, which is true. This is an explanation of the movement intrinsicly used by seasoned handball players. left, right, left. Fake, drive, jump. And when this movement is something you can do without thinking, you can read the defense while you move, and adjust accordingly to score.

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