7 Things You Need to Know About Beach Handball

Interview with Team USA Beach Handball Players

Beach Handball Fast Facts

What is Beach Handball, and why should you know about it?  Beach Handball is a relatively new sport to those of us in the United States, sharing very few similarities with its better known counterpart Indoor Handball. One of the greatest differences between the two sports is, as the name implies, the location of where the games are played. Indoor Handball takes place on special hard-surface court, stretching longer than a basketball court, and is played with 6 players plus a goalie on each end.

In contrast, Beach Handball is played on sand courts with a smaller surface area, making it a hard hitting and more intimate sport to spectate. The rules do differ greatly between both sports, but the movements look alike giving them a similar appearance.

Beach Handball became officially recognized as a sport in 2001. This sand-based iteration features 3 players plus a goalie or “specialist” on each side. During defensive possessions, teams are made up of 3 defenders and 1 person relegated to the goal. However, on offense, 3 different players sub in and the extra spot the goalie filled on defense is instead filled by the “specialist” on offense. More on their importance later.

Fast Paced, Athletic, and an Exciting Game

Games are split into 2- ten minute halves, which serve as individual games within the overall match. Making each match a best out of two scenario. The goal is to win both halves to secure the victory, however if each team wins one half then the game goes into a sudden death shootout (similar to the shootout’s in soccer when the game ends in a tie). The result is a very exciting game that has spectators on the edge of their seat for its entirety, with little to no downtime.

Team USA Men’s Beach Handball Practice

Score with Style – Get more points!

Beach Handball goals can be some of the most exciting points that you will ever see being scored. The score system is based around a 1 or 2 point structure. What differentiates these two results are who made the goal and how it was shot. A goal scored by any of the players, excluding the specialist or goalie, is worth one point.

However, there are three ways for a goal to be worth two points. The first is an “alley-oop,” familiar to any basketball fan. A goal is considered an “alley-oop” if the ball is passed to a teammate who catches and shoots the ball without their feet ever touching the ground. In other words, while the pass is in the air the player must jump and throw the ball into the goal without letting any part of their body touch the sand until the ball has left their hands.

The second way to earn two points is if the goalie or specialist scores a goal. The specialist is the fourth member of the offensive team and is designated by a different color jersey. If he or she scores, no matter how they score, it is an automatic two points. On the other hand, a goalie can get their team two points by securing the ball on defense and shooting it across the court into the opposing net. This opportunity happens when the offense shoots and misses, and the goalie is able to grab the ball and throw it full court into the opposite net before the other team’s defense can guard their goal. 

Finally, the last and perhaps most impressive way to receive two points is by doing a “spectacular” or 360 degree shot. As both names imply, these types of goals involve the offensive player doing an acrobatic aerial maneuver spinning their bodies at 360 degrees. These types of shots are awe-inspiring to witness in person and are frequently taken by players because of its additional point value and enthusiastic reaction from the crowd.

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What is a “spectacular” goal?

A New Kid On The Block

Recognized as an international sport for less than twenty years, Beach Handball is without a doubt the new kid on the block when compared to its indoor counterpart. Indoor Handball is currently played on six continents by over 180 countries and 19 million people. Additionally, it has been a part of the Summer Olympic Games since 1972.

In contrast, Beach Handball is still in its infancy but continues to grown exponentially since it began in 1994. A primary factor for its growing popularity is that like other beach sports, Beach Handball does not require a structural court to play on. Any beach with an open space of unobstructed sand can be used. The goals are relatively small, so they can be broken down and transported easily. Additionally, the games are split into 2- ten minute halves making it accessible to newcomers.

Beach Handball was featured for the first time in the 2013 World Games, with the USA Beach Handball team created soon after. The USA Men’s Team was originally founded by head coach Michael Hinson in 2015, with their official training site located in Hermosa Beach, CA. Despite their limited experience in the sport, the USA Men’s Team competed in the 2016 Pan American Championships in Venezuela and were able to win the championship and secure the gold medal.

That same year, the USA Women’s Team was formed behind Coach Juliano de Oliveira, Assistant Coach for the USA Men’s Team. Both the men’s and women’s teams have been hard at work training to compete in the 2018 Pan American Championship.

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Interview with USA Beach Handball Women’s Team Assistant Coach

The Pan American Championship is Here…. Literally

Every two years the Continental Championships are held throughout the globe as qualifying events for the World Championships. The United States falls under the Pan American section, and this year for the first time in sport history, the Pan American Championship is being held on U.S. soil! Not only that, the 2018 Pan American Championship is being held right here in Oceanside from March 8th-11th at Harbor Beach.

The 2018 Pan American Championship is the first time the USA men and women teams have played official games on the soil of their home country. As you can imagine, this is a very exciting time for Team USA and it is an exciting opportunity for us to cheer on our home team as they compete against international teams, including the Brazilian men and women teams (gold medal winners in the World Games) and women’s team from Argentina (silver medal winner).

This four day event is free to watch and will be action packed competition played within Oceanside’s Harbor Beach. The result of Pan American Championship will determine the four male and female teams which will move on to compete in the World Championships in Russia later this summer.

Play Schedule:

Friday, March 9th:

  • USA WOMEN vs Argentina – 10:40am
  • USA MEN vs Puerto Rico – 11:30am
  • USA WOMEN vs Chile – 2:40pm
  • USA MEN vs Argentina – 3:30pm

Saturday, March 10th:

  • Quarterfinals Women – 9:00am or 9:50am
  • Quarterfinals Men – 10:40am or 11:30am
  • Semifinals Women – 1:00 or 1:50pm
  • Semifinals Men – 2:40pm or 3:30pm

Sunday, March 11th:

  • WOMEN Gold Medal – 2:00pm
  • MEN Gold Medal – 3:00pm

Location of the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championship

Beach Handball is on its way to Becoming an Olympic Sport

As it continues to grow in popularity, Beach Handball is making a hard push towards becoming an Olympic Sport and is currently being considered as a future addition to the Summer Games, with hopes to be included by the 2024 Olympic Games. Stay Tuned!

Stay Connected and Up to Date

There are many ways to stay connected and to support Team USA at the 2018 Pan American Championship. 

Published: March 7, 2018

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