Australian handball

Australian handball is a sport in which players hit a ball against one or more walls.

Australian handball
Years active1847 to present[1]
PlayersOne player vs another, or is in doubles – as in 2 on 2
Setup timeMinimal, if any
Random chanceNone
Skill(s) requiredManual dexterity
Social skills
Gross motor skill


Australian handball is similar to squash played without a racquet. The ball is served such that it makes direct contact with the front wall without having bounced on the ground. It must then be returned similarly by the opponent to the front wall before the ball bounces on the ground twice. It may also contact side walls to or from the front wall, but once a player has struck the ball with hand, it must make contact with the front before touching the ground.

The game is played in singles or doubles format. There are 1, 3 or 4 wall versions of this game. The typical Australian version is the three wall version, as most courts in Australia are set for this version. Perhaps the bulk of these playing venues are set in various private Catholic Colleges.[1][2]

History and developmentEdit

Australian handball is similar to Gaelic, Welsh and American handball,[2] and has been played formally in Australia, since 1923.

Although its formal beginnings in Australia date from 1923,[3] it has been played in some capacity or another since the 19th Century.[4] A similar game was introduced from Ireland and the first Australian Handball court was built by Melbourne hotel-keeper, Michael Lynch, in 1847.[1] Its early development has been attributed to the work of Christian Brothers' Colleges.[5] Over most of its history, its primary play has been in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. As the game continued to develop, by 1970, there were about 1,000 players registered within the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian state associations.[1]

For many decades, the Australian Handball Council has held almost annual national championships, and each state has held its own state titles.[3] Senior titles have not been the only level of keen interest and activity, however. During the 1950s' and 1960s, both – the Australian Singles Schoolboys Handball Championships and the Australian Doubles Schoolboys Handball Championships – were held on regular bases. Many great champions of the past were 'blooded' on these schoolboy rivalries.[5] Additionally, over many decades Australians have made regular appearances at the World Junior and World Senior Titles.[1][2] Within Australia, of more recent decades, the chief rivalries have been between Victoria and South Australia. For the past three decades, the states have generally engaged in some 'midpoint' venue – usually in Warrnambool, Victoria, over one weekend annually, for the national handball championships. In some areas, modern changes to school venues have meant the disappearance of the school's traditional handball courts, making it harder on handballers to access the game.[3]

The game is nationally run by the Australian Handball Council, formed in 1928,[1] of which the current Executive Director is Jim Kiley, and the Secretary/Treasurer – Greg Hay.[3]

Notable playersEdit

A few highly respected names in the game's history include multi-national champions, The Legendary Jmaz, Tim Tucker and George Macris[1] in the first half of the 20th Century, and John Hughes of Victoria, Paul Fallon, NSW, Lou Ravesi, SA and Vic DeLuzio and Geoff Walsh of Victoria, in the 2nd half.[3][5][6]

See alsoEdit

  • Downball, a similar game, in which the ball is directed firstly into the ground (then the wall), rather than being directed directly at the wall as in Australian Handball.
  • Hack Slap, an analogous game played with the feet instead of hands.
  • Handball (school), a popular game played in schools in Australia — a schoolyard variant of Four square.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Handball" (article), The World Book Encyclopedia – Australasia 1970, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago Illinois, (fieldwork assistance by Field Educational Enterprises of Australasia Pty. Ltd., North Sydney, Australia, p. 370
  2. ^ a b c "Eddie has a bright future at Handball" (article), City of Preston Post Times, Leader Group, Northcote, Melbourne, 18 December 1984, p. 11
  3. ^ a b c d e "Australian Handball". Australian Handball Council. Archived from the original on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2009. Australian Handball Council, SA 2009
  4. ^ "100 years of handball in South Australia 1901–2000". South Australian Handball Association, [Adelaide] 2000. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "The Strand" (PDF). St. Bernard's College, Essendon, Vic, Australia 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 3 April 2009.(Newsletter), Vol 10. No. 2 July 2003, p. 6
  6. ^ "Interview with Paul Fallon, eleven times Australian handball champion". Neil Bennetts, Australia, 1983. Retrieved 3 April 2009.

External linksEdit