Airborne athletes make for exciting debut of beach handball
Beach handball players will hurl themselves through the air in acrobatic, stop-motion moves made possible by a softer, sand landing as the sport debuts at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
“I think it has the potential to be one of the most beautiful beach sports for an audience to watch,” said Harald Mulder (NED), coach of the Netherlands Under-18 women’s team that won silver both at the U17 2017 World Championship and at the U18 2018 Beach EURO. “It is so fast and it has so much dynamic action.”
YOG handball teams had competed in the traditional version - indoor on a hardcourt surface - at Singapore 2010 and Nanjing 2014. This time, as sand does not allow for dribbling the ball, athletes display even more athleticism and skill to pass and score.
I think it has the potential to be one of the most beautiful beach sports for an audience to watchHarald Mulder NED
Players execute creative and spectacular goals through 360-degree spins and alley-oops, in-flights, mid-air and six-metre throws – all awarded two points in beach handball versus one point in traditional handball.
While the entertainment factor is high for spectators, these specialised manoeuvres are based on players’ fundamental technical skills and play an important role in game tactics due to the additional points awarded to a score.
To achieve a 360-spin shot, an athlete takes one or two steps, stops and jumps to make a full-body rotation before throwing the ball. Two points also are awarded if a player who is in-flight controls the ball and shoots on goal while in the air.
“The air movements are really spectacular as they are in beach volleyball,” Mulder said. “You have fliers on the left and right and they have these moments when they float and you think, ‘Are they going to score – yes or no?’ The energy makes it an excellent addition.”
Mulder hopes that a successful first showing for beach handball at Buenos Aires 2018 could generate the momentum it needs to one day become a full Olympic discipline.
“We have the ambition, of course,” he said. “This is the first step to introduce it to the wider world, and if this is successful and it builds a bit of a platform, then people can get enthusiastic about it.”
Beach handball at Buenos Aires 2018 takes place from Monday to Saturday (8-13 October) at the stadium in Parque Sarmiento, a secondary venue for Tecnopolis Park.