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Take it easy when you get back on the court

    Because handball involves fast-twitch reactions, it’s good to work interval training into your workouts. 

If it seems like a long time since you last played handball, it is. Depending on where you live, most four-wall facilities were closed for at least two months. Maybe you were able to play three-wall in a few parks that remained open or one-wall against a wall with some chalk-drawn lines.

The good news is that things are opening and moving toward normalcy. Hopefully, tournaments will return. Some form of social distancing will be in our future, at least until a COVID-19 vaccine is readily available.

So what is a handball player to do while waiting for the courts to reopen?

In my opinion, handball players comprise two groups. One group plays only handball for exercise and likely has not been very active during the COVID-19 crisis. The other group cross-trains even when handball is available and likely has continued to work out during the pandemic.
Very few people possess fully stocked weight rooms and cardio equipment at home, but a lot of players have a few weights, stretch bands and a stationary or road bike to ride for cardio maintenance.

No matter how good you think your conditioning is, there is no substitute for playing handball. The cross-trainers will get back into tournament shape faster, however.

Where to start? Until the courts are open, get outside and walk, run, or bike. Handball is a series of intense 10- to 15-second exertions followed by a serve or change of serve. So vary your walking, running, or biking with interval training. Run 15 seconds, then walk 10 seconds and keep repeating. Or while biking, throw in intense 15-second bursts followed by 10-second slowdowns.

Setting up a circuit is easy and requires minimal equipment. Run or jog 100 yards, then stop and do 10 pushups, then repeat and do some situps. You can set up stations for pushups, situps, jumping jacks, dumbbells, skipping rope, and other exercises.

Lastly, save time to stretch before you exercise and afterward. Keep your Achilles tendons and hamstrings stretched. A ruptured Achilles is not uncommon and takes a long time to heal, with or without surgery.

One final thought about life without handball. Most of us eat what we want because handball burns calories. Without handball, it is easy to gain a few pounds. So a little discipline in food intake is needed during these times.

If you play at the three-wall nationals, you’re used to an incredible amount of delicious food.  But during a prolonged period of low activity or none at all, it’s wise to control your caloric intake.

Handball will return. Start getting back into shape now. When the courts do open, start easy. Do not overdo it. Remember, our hands need to get back in shape too. A bone bruise is the last thing you need.

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