Handball Kill Shots
by Ron Kurtus (29 April 2001)
A shot that hits the front wall so low and at an angle that the opponent cannot return it is called a kill shot. There is a definite strategy to using such a shot.
You need to think of where to hit the ball and determine a strategy depending on from where you hit the ball.
Questions you may have include:
- How should you aim your shots?
- From where do you hit a kill shot?
- What strategy should you use?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Places to aim kill shot
You can hit a kill shot directly off the front wall, to the corner on your shooting side, or to the corner across your body.
Most players hit their kill shots directly to the front wall, trying to get the ball to hit the wall as low as possible and a the most shallow angle. This means the ball should be hit when it is relatively close to the floor.
The best way to do this is by taking the ball off the back wall and stroking it to the front wall from near the floor. Some players care able to kill a lob or a ceiling shot by hitting the ball several inches from the floor.
A direct return above the waist usually will bounce back too high. A shot from that high should be hit to one of the corners.
A kill shot directly to the front wall should be very low and away from the opponent. His location is difficult to know if he is standing behind you.
To shooting-side corner
If you aim your kill shot toward the corner on the same side as you are hitting the ball, the spin of the ball will determine whether you should aim for the front wall or the side wall first.
When an attempt at a kill shot is made with a 1/4 or side-arm return, there is a sideways spin to the ball as it rolls off your glove. (Hitting a fist shot is not the best, since it is too inaccurate to use as a good kill shot.)
Front wall first
If you hit the front wall first near the corner on your shooting side, the spin of the ball will shorten the angle off the front wall, resulting in a ball that comes back near and parallel to the side wall. This is a difficult shot to return, even if I bounces high.
If this ball then hits the side wall, its backward spin can slow the ball down, such that it dies--or is easy to return--depending on the angle.
Side wall, then front
If you hit the side wall first in the area around the corner on your shooting side, the ball will then hit the front wall at an angle. The spin from hitting a side-arm shot will increase the angle off the side wall and the front wall, making the ball even harder to return than when hitting the front wall first.
But if there is not much spin, the angle may be such that the ball comes directly out to the center of the court, allowing the other player to put it away.
When you hit the ball across your body toward the opposite corner, the ball has a backwards spin.
Front wall first
If you hit the front wall first, the spin will increase the angle such that the ball will come of the side wall at a sharper angle. If the ball is hit near the corner, this can result in a shot that is difficult to return. If the ball is hit further from the corner, the ball can come out to center court, setting up the opponent for his own kill shot.
Side wall, then first
Since the ball has a backwards spin with a cross body shot, it comes off the side wall at a sharper angle. The ball also loses speed, due to the spin. This shot can be very effective if it makes it to the front wall, because the spin will slow the ball down even more. Unfortunately, the ball often doesn't make it to the front wall unless it is hit hard enough. It can be a disappointing shot the almost made it.
Areas to hit kill shot
There are three main areas from which you try to hit a kill shot:
- Off the back wall
- Front court
Off back wall
Any shot off the back wall is a prime candidate for a kill shot, because the ball has lost much of its speed and you have the time to stroke it across the court. With this type of shot, you usually follow the ball off the wall, hitting it at knee level or below with a 1/4 or side stroke.
Typically this shot goes directly to the front wall, so it had better be good and low. Hitting off the wall on your shooting side can be effective, but the angles are quite steep, losing its effectiveness.
The big advantage of a kill shot off the back wall is that you have time to get low and to aim the ball to where you want it. You can also put your whole body behind the hit and put a lot of zip on your return.
A poorly hit ball can be easily put away from mid-court. Often the ball is hit on the fly in this area. You should definitely aim for one of the corners, depending on where the other guy is located.
You usually kill the ball in the front court as a reaction to an attempted kill shot from your opponent. Typically, you don't have time to aim the ball much and just try to jam it off the front wall--hopefully away from the opponent.
Often by the nature of this type of shot the ball goes right back to the other player, resulting in a "shoot-out" between the two. This is when it is a good idea to try to pass or lob the ball to get him out of the front court.
Strategies to use
The strategy to use concerning handball kill shots is to take them when you get them. But don't try to make every shot a kill shot, because a poor kill shot attempt often becomes a point for the opponent.
Vary your shots to keep your opponent off guard. Don't depend on one shot to a corner all the time. You can also occasionally hit a pass shot or ceiling shot on what might have been a kill shot. Although the idea is to score points, you often have to be patient.
It is best aim toward the corners to make your kill shots more difficult to return. Although you can aim the ball when hitting off the back wall, more effective kills are made from mid-court. You should vary your shots to keep the opponent off guard.
Resources and references
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Handball Kill Shots