Reverse handball

Reverse handball

Reverse handball is a type of tennis ball game similar to school handball, created in Sydney, Australia. Like its predecessor, primitive school handball (refer to Australian Handball), reverse handball may be played on any surface area that has marked lines and concrete pavement slabs. Often it is played during lunchtimes of school hours with a tennis ball. School handball is adapted from many different handball culture sports varieties, but this version is more simplistic for schoolchildren to play with.

Summary of Australian Handball Rules

Primitive school handball is played at school by many school children. It combines mainly tennis and conventional handball rules plus other sports rules. This involves bouncing a ball across a road, street or flat surface such that the first bounce drops on one side of a person’s square, crosses a line mutually agreed to be the divider of the court (see below), and into the section of the opponent’s empty court. If the ball bounces twice (simultaneously) in any one section of a person’s court, then the point is awarded to the other player (the opponent). If the ball is hit over the line known as the divider of the court by one player, this is called a “full” or a “fault”, then the point is awarded to the other player (their opponent).

Types of Shots

*Slog: A powerful low shot that skids across the court. Much like a smash in a racket game or a powerful spike in volleyball

*High ball: An extremely defensive vertically high shot used by both beginners and experts alike.

*Spin shot: Cutting/slicing of the ball with ones hands/fingers to create a spin on the first bounce and then into the opponents square.

*Cheap Shots: Those low "drop" shots that are so simple to execute but win crucial and effective points.

Simple terminology

Divider of the Court

The line that splits a handball court into different space/sections for players to stand in (usually into two).


The lines that surround a players court, in which a bounce outside of these lines is considered out. The boundary lines are defined to be connected to the divider of the court.

One bounce per square

The most important definition of primitive school (Australian)/reverse handball that forms the foundation of all games. Defined as: “A single bounce within the boundaries of one person’s square, over the divider of the court followed by another single bounce into the boundaries of another opponents square and so forth until such that this rule is defied.”


When the ball is hit mid-air before it bounces onto the court.

Reverse Handball

This section below will now detail specific Reverse Handball information.

Reverse Terminology

Side of the court: Only for games situated in a driveway where the playing square surface is lower than the surrounding concrete pavement. The "side" is defined as the horizontal flat surface of the protruding concrete pavement.

External Object: A stationary obstacle/object defined to be outside of the handball court, used for rebound purposes. Eg. Tree, gate, fence, walls, wooden block, table, bench, etc.

"Reverse" Rules

Similarly, reverse handball incorporates primitive school handball rules, but with additional rules. These rules, while they may seem to be very documentated and official, are merely just accepted practices amongst players (since there is no official governing body for these rules to be properly carried out ) The additional rules are as follows:


At the start of each rally, a serve must be made such that the ball will bounce in the server's square, and on the next bounce hit either: a) the "side" of his opponent's square b) an external object or c) both a) and b) combined

2 the above premises may be followed in any order, so long as the integrity of the "one bounce per square" law is observed.

3 The server must not bounce the ball on his "side" of the court on the initial bounce.

4 The loser of the point/rally must serve. Therefore, the winner of the rally must be the receiver.

5 If the server does not satisfy 1,2 or 3 then this is a fault. A server is allowed two times to serve. Two consecutive faults, or a double fault, results in the point rewarded to the receiver.

Details And Further Explanation

The server of the ball must bounce his ball in his own court once, and on his second bounce he must either make contact with the side of his opponent’s court (usually a concrete slab or other object at the side of the court mutually agreed by both players to be part of the court) or hit an external object on the second bounce and onto his opponents court. As long as contact is made on the second bounce with either an external object or his opponent's side of the court then this is a legitimate serve.

Bouncing off external objects or hitting the sides of the court may be combined where possible. This will be explained in the later section.

After this bouncing off the side or external surface, play resumes with primitive handball rules, but it is worth noting that players may still target external objects or sides of the court as long as the one bounce per square rule applies. Note again that the “side” of the court is considered to be part of the court itself, so if the side of the court is hit and then bounces into the respective player's main court area, this is still called "doubles" and the point is awarded to the other player.

External Objects

These objects are the core strategy of the entire game. Usually experienced players will peg the ball in their own square and this will bounce off a fence and into the other players court at such high speeds that it becomes a frustration for their opponents to return the shot.

The beauty of external objects is that the ball may bounce infinite times along the external object, as long as contact is made with the server and his opponent’s court, in that order. This may distract one's opponent with the continuous bouncing.

For example a metal pole or metal gate outside the “sides” of the court may be considered an external object. Eg. Bounce five times along a metal gate, then bouncing once in the server’s court and then into his opponents court. This is a legitimate serve.

erving in Reverse Handball

The person who wins the point or rally does not serve, which is counter-intuitive to normal school handball. Instead, the person who lost the point must serve. If the server misses his opponent’s side of the court, or does not hit an external object(s) (by bouncing it out, or not touching the sides of the court), this is considered to be the first fault, and the server may serve once more. If a fault occurs again, this is known as a double fault, in which the point is awarded to the opponent (similar to tennis –double faults).

Post-Serve Volleying

The receiver of the serve may decide to volley a serve (hitting it before the second bounce makes contact) if he/she thinks that their opponent's serve is on target with the side of the court or an external object. This is a calculated and risky decision: If the serve will land in an unfavourable position to the receiver then one might contemplate to take this action. However, sometimes if the ball's projection path is misjudged, this may cost the receiver what could have been a fault against his/her opponent, and hence, an extra point that may have been won.

Other Legitimate Reverse Handball Serves

An example of a legitimate serve: Person A serves by bouncing the ball in his court, in which this bounces 3 times along a metal gate deemed to be an external object of the court, and into his opponents square.

Another legitimate serve: person A bounces the ball off a metal pole and it lands in his court, bouncing once, and then into his opponents court once.

An illegitimate serve: Person A bounces his ball on the metal gate (deemed to be an external object), into his opponents square without a bounce in his own square. This is a fault because no contact was made with his own square.

Another illegitimate serve: Person A slams the ball at the "side" of his court and this bounces off into his opponents court. Invalid because it violates Law 1

Serving Personalities

This section will list serving styles in Reverse Handball. There are generally 5 categories:

Risk Takers (RT's)

The name is self explanatory. These players will take all sorts of risks to win, unlike the Steady Ones. Consequentially, serves are often dangerous and out of control. But the result from success is potent.

Aggressive Risk-Takers (ART's): The most dangerous type of RT who will use all their bullstrength to peg the ball in their own square and onto an external object as powerfully and as brutally as possible. The result is often a complete misdirection of the ball, mostly landing out or completely missing target. However, if successful, their opponent faces a high-speed ball that could virtually come from any direction and angle which is very challenging to return.

Fancy Risk-Takers (FRT's): These players are different to the ART because instead of focusing on pure might and power pegging, they aim for spots in the court that require the most skill and deception to the disadvantage of their opponent. This mainly involves selecting targets that no ordinary player would aim for (because of the difficulty), such as a tree located at the very far back corner of their opponents court as an external object. This may even include targets that are ridiculously out of reach, with low probability of being hit in conjunction with the one bounce per square law. If the FRT succeeds, this generally results in shock and surprise from their opponent who did not expect the serve to be so well orchestrated, and eventually, to the demise of the FRT's opponent. Really, FRT's are the ones that enjoy a challenge.

Steady Ones (SO's)

Basically a player who will not take risks; a person of principle and textbook foundations. (Always following procedures - conventional methods). They sacrifice glory for a safe, definite serve that they can rely on.

Careful SO's (SOC's) : These players will always serve in areas which are easy to serve to; ie. consistent legitimate serves without compromising quality. This may include a large sign that's target is relatively simple to hit as an external object. Usually done on people's second serve. The result is a serve that will usually never fail, but is very readable and too predictable after a while.

Scared SO's (SOS's) : SOS's will serve to the nearest possible side or external object. This usually happens after they have lost several points, and are low on morale + confidence. The result is a serve that is usually too slow and too high, easily anticipated by their opponent. Opponent's often counter SOS's by quickly volleying their serves regardless of whether the target was in or out, in order to cut short the reaction time of the server. This is an extremely defensive serving style that relies on unforced errors of their opponents for this to work.

Experienced & Highly Skilled

After extended periods of playing on the reverse handball court, there comes a stage of self-realization and enlightenment; where dangerous serves are finally understood. This class of players are superior to other types because they have developed unique serving methods that are hard to counter. While the serving strategies employed may seem extremely difficult to a beginner, the key characteristic that separates the experienced & highly skilled from others is that they have developed these arts of serving to make them not only lethal, but very consistent & non-risky during gameplay. They have been mastered over a long period of time involving heavy practice and plenty of match experience. Hence it could be said that they are a kind of elite servers.

Corner Master (CoM): CoM's are ruthless because they have such precision in their aiming capabilities. The CoM will typically aim for the fine edges (exterior or interior) of the "side" of the court where the ball will generally find awkward bounce. This means the bounce will either come back into the court sharply or speed out of the court quickly. This is not classified as risky to the CoM since this technique can be mastered after much practice, even though it is very hard for both beginners and intermediates alike. It is worth noting that the CoM is not allowed to hit the vertical edge of the side, in which this case, would be a fault. Also, the CoM may target the pointy corners of external objects if he or she wishes, with deadly accuracy.

Backtracker: A feared opponent, who will select a safe external object on his/her opponent's side of the court. Then with accurate precision, he/she will continually aim the ball in that region such that the bounce is deflected off the object, and will bounce back towards the server's court. Because the ball will make its way back to the backtracker's section of the court, this makes it virtually impossible for the backtracker's opponent to return the serve (as it is now flying mid-air on the backtracker's side of the court). The only option for the backtracker's opponent is to now enter his opponent's court to hit the ball backwards in his section of the court, off the external object hard enough to allow the ball to fly back into the backtracker's square, which is very difficult. To counter the backtracker, one generally anticipates his/her serves by identifying the main source of "dangerous" external objects, and then use a quick volley to prevent the ball from landing on one's side of the court.

SideWinders: A confident server who will repeatedly serve extremely high and deep into their opponents court, always hitting their opponents court "side". This of course is not easy, because any shaky movement from the SideWinder will cause the ball to miss target, as the ball is travelling relatively high and fast into the deep end of their opponent's court. Countering may involve hitting the ball just before it bounces.

Other + Miscellaneous

These are serving type(s) that have no proper category to place them in.

The Keen Observer (TKO): TKO's are quick to observe the terrain of the course, as no two reverse handball courts are identical. They are basically observant strategists that enjoy exploiting the weaknesses of the court, rather than the flaws of their opponents. TKO's place more emphasis on the natural environment and the state of the court, rather than focusing on the positioning of external objects. An example of this would be rocks scattered on the sides of the TKO's opponent's court. The TKO in this case would always serve in the areas where rocks are scattered the most because this would generate awkward bounce for his opponent. Other examples include grass growing in the cracks of an external object, cracked concrete walls, or an area in which the sun shines in the eyes of his opponent. This serving style is not necessarily a style of its own and can be combined with others.

All-Rounder Combinations

The most flexible in gameplay of all, that mixes serving types when the situation is needed most.

ART or FRT + SOC: A very useful combination where the server is willing to take the risk on his/her first serve to either peg the ball or aim for a hard-to-reach external object in the hopes of achieving an "ace". However, failing to do this makes the all rounder revert back to SOC style, aiming for safe serves to avoid the double fault.

TKO + Anything: The specialties of one class of serving will be enhanced by the strategic analysis that the TKO uses in his day to day games.

ART or FRT + CoM: A more powerful version of the ART/FRT + SOC. A well-practiced CoM can ensure sufficient consistency when on his/her second serve, obsoleting the SOC with the deadly bounce.

There are of course many others, but these ones are the most commonly used in reverse handball, because they are the most effective in the game.

ee also

*Australian Handball


* [ Teamsports: Handball] at [] Details how team handball is played. Note that the rebounding off walls is similar to that of Reverse Handball.
* [ Variations of Handball] Describes many of the common varieties of Australian handball, including reverse handball.

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