Doubles Play (By Rick Anderson)

The following is a email written by Rick Anderson that goes into fine detail on playing right side doubles:  Thanks for the time and incite Rick!

Hello fellow handball fanatics:

Recently I was asked to write a few words about my thoughts on right side doubles. My first thoughts were who would want to hear from a 50 year old guy who still dives on the cement just to retrieve a little blue ball. I have been playing handball for over 25 years and in that time frame I have drifted to a lot more doubles than singles.  In my mind, it’s all about picking the right partner.  Sometimes you can have two good singles players but put them together as a doubles team and it is a disaster.  Doubles is kind of like a dance; you both have to know what the next step is so you don’t step on each other toes (no queer intentions).  There are several points to look at when playing doubles, and each one has its own validity.

Not only yours but your partner’s as well is very important.  It is critical for you and your partner to discuss the strategy of your play before you get on the court. There are several ways you and your partner can cover the courts.

I’m going to be writing more about a front / back type of play since that is what I usually play. In this process the right side player is usually floating around the front court. One reason I like this type of play is it allows both players more freedom of movement and less chance of bumping into each other. Remember, if you bump into an opponent it is usually a hinder but if you bump into your partner, it is usually a loss of point. With the front/back play it allows your partner to play more of a singles-type of play, and the flow is smoother.  When both guys are fighting for the ball, it makes it a lot easier for your opponents to get you running into each other. In my type of play the left side player will have most of the play; your job is to help the team for the win not to see how many balls you can get your hands on.  It is also important to know your partner’s strengths and weaknesses; sometimes you may have to take shots that you know your partner has trouble with. With position in mind, that does not mean that you as the right side player must stay on the right. I like to float around the front court to give my partner the best possible shot … remember, he has to shoot around three players. If you can lessen that by one you have given him a better shot selection. Remember “THIS IS A PARTNERSHIP,” not two individuals.

I have seen so many right side players stick their left hands out and take a ball that the left side guy was ready to take with his strong hand. Unless you can kill the ball or pass for a point, you should try to use your weak hand as little as possible. Discipline also means knowing when to use your strong hand as well.  You could hit it with your strong hand, but your partner may have a better shot … You have a split second to make that determination.  You also “FRUSTRATE” your partner when you take shots away from him.  There is an ebb and flow between you two that needs to occur.

This is where I think my biggest strength comes in.  Knowing where “EVERYBODY” is on the court determines which shot I take, some of them being a little unorthodox.  When you get into the fray, you can figure out what shots the various players will take. They are their “COMFORT SHOTS,” shots that they hit all the time.  My job on the right is to try and take them out of their comfort zone, which means hitting shots they are not anticipating. I love to cut the ball off as close to the front wall as possible. WHY?  Because nobody is expecting it!! When you catch your opponents off guard, you have a better chance of ending the rally or, worst case scenario; they have to scramble to get to the ball, which sets up a weak return. In my mind all you have to do is put the ball where they are not.  When somebody is playing right off your hip and you get them moving one way to cover your next shot, how sweet is it to totally confuse them and hit a shot that they were not anticipating. Another key to shot selection is moving your opponents around the court. When you let your opponents have a chance to set up you are setting yourself up for disaster.  You must make them move their feet. The more you can move them off of their last mark, the weaker return you will get. Another point in the shot selection process is knowing your opponents. It may take a few points into the game, but eventually you should be able to pick out their weak spots. It is very important that you are always looking to find out what they are and how to exploit them.

This is a critical point. You must have continuous conversation about the game that is going on. Do you think I am taking your shots? Do you think I am out of position? Could I hit better shots?  Remember your partner has a better view of your play and can offer constructive criticism if you’re willing to listen. The same goes for your interaction with your partner.  Nobody wants to think that he is not carrying his weight. Being able to adjust your play during the match is another area you should be able to do.  Listen to your partner, make sure you can motivate your partner. No one wants to hear what a terrible play he just made, and we all know when we screwed the pooch!

This game has been very good to me and my family. It’s great to win, but it’s even greater to have the camaraderie that HANDBALL has given me.  Enjoy the game!!!