Pre-shoot position vital to post-shot satisfaction.
Most of my newcomers at Lake Forest College need to be constantly reminded to address the ball correctly. This isn't a problem when the ball travels to the front wall and rebounds straight to the back wall without angling toward a side wall.
My students have come to call this type of setup return a "no-brainer." But this is rarely the case in a real handball game. Most players will correctly address the no-brainer, since they were probably told to face the side wall the first time they stepped on a handball court.
The footwork problems occur when the ball is angling off the front wall into a side wall. Lack of power and hand errors will result when the player fails to adjust to the angle of the flight of the ball.
If you face the side wall when confronted with the no-brainer, why not address the ball with the same body-relationship theory when the ball is traveling at an angle from the front wall?
The correct way to address any shot is to have the flight of the ball cross your toes at a right angle. The subtle turning of the body to correctly address shots angling off the side wall will often be the difference between hitting a controlled shot and making a hand error.
When addressing a shot angling off a side wall, the simplest thing to do is send the ball back from where it came. Doing this, or continuing the direction of the ball, will give you the largest margin for error and help you to eliminate hand errors from your game.
We spend a lot of our practice time learning how to "communicate" with the ball. The ball should be "talking" to you at all times as long as your eyes and ears are paying attention to it.
My players are taught to watch the angle of the ball's flight to receive its message. When receiving service, note the angle of flight as the ball hits the front wall. Don't wait until it travels across the short line.
Remember that the ball will rebound according to some simple rules, such as the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. Of course, hops come into play, but the underlying rules of geometry still apply.
Be sure to give yourself enough stroking room when the ball will be played off a side wall.
Getting too close to the side wall will cramp your swing. It's always easier to move closer to the side wall as you step into the shot than it is to back away from the ball and the side wall when you swing.
Of course, the same rules apply during the rally. This is how the experienced players get a jump on the ball.
Reading the height of the ball as it contacts the front wall, the angle of incidence, as well as hearing how hard the ball is hit will help the player get to a proper pre-shoot position.
The pre-shoot position is where you should be to allow for any final footwork adjustments before starting your stroking motion. This is a step or two deeper in the court than where you will be contacting the ball.
We all know the importance of getting your body into every shot, avoiding any chance of our body mass going backward as we try to propel the ball forward. Poor pre-shoot position results in the body fading backward as we try to send the ball forward. Loss of power, misdirection and a sore arm are the results of poor pre-shoot position.
Another situation where the proper addressing of the ball is of extreme importance is the shot that hits the floor and angles into the rear left corner (right corner for left-handers). It's very important to address this shot correctly to be able to hit it with your strong hand whenever possible, i.e., whenever the ball hits the side wall before contacting the back wall.
Just as important, the proper pre-shoot position will also have you in a spot to hit a V-pass with your off hand if the ball hits the back wall and caroms forward along the side wall. This movement is somewhat similar to being in a revolving door, as you pivot around to take the ball with your right hand and drive it back in the same direction that it's traveling, usually to the right side wall, if it contacted the side wall before the back wall.
The major stumbling block to hitting this back-wall shot correctly is the necessary movement to the back wall for the proper pre-shoot position.
Most of us wait for the ball to carom back off the back wall and end up making contact with the ball behind the center line of our body. The proper method would be to get to a position behind where the ball will be contacted, so you can move forward into the back-wall shot, thus getting your body into the shot.
Addressing the ball to achieve proper pre-shoot position is not an athletic skill but a mental skill. Learning to "communicate" with the ball requires a willingness to give the ball your undivided attention and respond to its signals.
Correctly addressing the ball in flight is a simple motor reaction that requires concentration.
Understanding what to look for and how to respond reflexively will enhance your proficiency on the court as you try to get to 21 points first.