Talk to the Hand
August 3, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Meet the Federer and Nadal of NYC handball.
posted by AceRock (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The who and what of whynow? Oh, this is relating the rivalry of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, current professional tennis players, to the opposition of Cesar Sala and Satish Jagnandan (video). Gotcha.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

The objective is to win each rally by serving or returning the ball so the opponent is unable to keep the ball in play.

I've watched several games but never was able to figure out exactly how score was kept. The game is quite confusing to the uninitiated
posted by scrutiny at 11:46 AM on August 3, 2009

Best quote:

Handball took off during the Great Depression, when there was nothing better to do.
posted by mannequito at 11:47 AM on August 3, 2009

That's a pretty cool story. Growing up in NYC we used to play one-wall handball in our high school's court. Didn't know there was such devotion to the game. Enlightening.
posted by gushn at 12:15 PM on August 3, 2009

Nice video
posted by taliaferro at 12:34 PM on August 3, 2009

That looks sort of like fives, with all the fun taken out - in fives, the court is enclosed on three sides, with a ledge running around all three walls, plus (in Eton fives, as opposed to Rugby) a low butress wall that juts into the court near the front, in line with a step that splits the court into two levels. All these obstacles can be used to amazing effect - there are so many angled corners on the court that you can ping the ball all over the place before it hits the ground, hopefully wrongfooting your opponent(s) in the process. And hopefully not breaking your fingers on the walls, floor or step trying to return a tricky shot.

The rules are nuts, too - eg., if I remember rightly, in Rugby fives, a serve has to hit the right hand wall, then the rear wall, then hit the floor before the step, but if the server fouls, the receiver can shout 'Blackguard!' and take the shot (unless it's a game or match point). But in Eton fives, I'm pretty sure the receiver can opt to refuse the serve until he gets one he likes the look of, indefinitely.

At my school, it was the game of the stoners, because no teacher was present during games (there are no referees in fives, even in world championships, assuming world championships even exist). We took it so we could stay out of the rain, smoke joints and piss about instead of actually doing, ugh, sport... until we found out that it's the fastest, most addictive game ever, turned wildly competitive and played marathon matches for hours on end.
posted by jack_mo at 12:46 PM on August 3, 2009

I saw a documentary about NYC handball a few years ago - I'm pretty sure it was this one, Big Blue - that was really entertaining.
posted by milkrate at 12:51 PM on August 3, 2009

Fascinating! Thanks for the link.
posted by vito90 at 1:21 PM on August 3, 2009

Lots of handball at local Y in my end of Ct...and the best games, best teams--from Ireland.
posted by Postroad at 1:23 PM on August 3, 2009

for more handball love, i really enjoyed this article (and this article) about Jake Plummer, former QB for the broncos.
posted by nadawi at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2009

You know what I miss Pegging. When we were kids before they banned it we would play where you threw the ball at the wall from wherever you stood when you picked it up, you then had to run and touch the wall. If you were slow we got to throw the ball at you as many times as it takes for you to get to the wall. The head was always a coveted target . If someone caught the ball you threw before it hit the ground, Bunnies. Three people(whoever called one and two and three ) got to throw the ball at you while you stood there. If you flinched you had to go again. If you pegged somebody on a throw and run and somebody caught it, bunnies. I still want to play a good game of pegging again. Remember were playing on a 6X10 foot wall and sometimes the ball is a good 40 feet back and their are 15-20 kids standing in front of you.
posted by Rubbstone at 3:07 PM on August 3, 2009

Rubb, in DC we called that Off The Wall. That and Four Square were the two games you'd play waiting for the basketball courts to be free.
posted by now i'm piste at 3:51 PM on August 3, 2009

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