April 27th, 2020

By Matthew Moulton

I am a senior chemical engineering student at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Outside of research and school, one sport that I love to play is handball. I was inspired to start playing at the end of my freshman year in high school after I watched a game between my classmates who were on the handball team. Handball is a sport in which players use their hands to hit a small rubber ball against a wall such that their opponent cannot do the same without the ball touching the ground twice. There are three versions of the game, one-wall, three wall and four-wall. Handball can be played in singles or doubles. The first player to 21 points wins the game. One-wall handball courts have a wall that is 6.1 m wide and 4.9 m high. The court floor is 6.1 m wide and 10.4 m long. I started to practice by playing against people at a park near my school. This was the first sport that I practiced consistently.


                                   Handball Court*

To put the ball in play, a play must execute a serve. To serve the ball, a player must strike the ball to the wall such that its first bounce is past the short line. Once the ball is in play, players rally until a player fails to properly return the ball. In singles play, more emphasis is placed on the serve because the players have more ground to cover. A well placed serve can immediately put the opponent on the defensive. In doubles, each team has two players so it is more difficult to win a game using your serve alone. This is where strategy is important. One strategy is to identify the weaker player on the opponent’s team and target all of your serves towards that player. If that player hits a weak return, you or your teammate can easily capitalize on the opportunity to win a point. Another strategy is to aim your serve between your opponents. This can make the opponents hesitate when approaching the ball because they are not sure who should hit it. Ideally both opponents hesitate and they both miss the ball resulting in an easy point for your team. The next strategy is applicable during rallies. First hit the ball softly so that its first bounce is close to the wall. This will draw the opposing team towards the front of the court. When they return the ball, hit the ball hard so that it bounces to the back of the court. Hopefully the opposing team will be out of position from the first shot and your team will win.

I focused on playing doubles. I enjoyed doubles because the rallies are longer and there is more strategy involved than in singles play. I later joined the handball team during my junior year. While I was in high school I would practice about three times a week. Now I only play once a week during the warmer months. I continue to play handball because it relieves stress and it’s good exercise. 

What do you like to do outside of research?

-Matthew Anthony Moulton