Can Handball Improve Hand-Eye Coordination?

With the upcoming rise of Handball throughout the UK, this research went about understanding whether Handball has a use within the National Curriculum in England and whether alternative sports can develop necessary fundamental movement skills in comparison to traditional sports.

How effective are alternative sports for developing a student’s fundamental movement skills?

Children develop a range of transferable skills through involvement in sport; however national curriculum choices are often limited to a narrow range of traditional sports. Hand-eye coordination is recognised as a core component of the ‘fundamental movement skills’ developed through Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum and competency has a major influence on the long term engagement with life-long physical activity. Seeking to investigate the impact of a sport such as Handball on the development of hand-eye coordination, a group of year 7 pupils were engaged in a 6-week programme to evaluate the influence of Handball over that of a traditional National Curriculum sport.


Handball is a sport that, through its successful exposure in London 2012, has seen its profile raised in the national consciousness (British Handball, 2012). It is also a sport that, as a result, some schools are beginning to consider for inclusion in PE curricula as an alternative or an addition to traditional sports. But, is it more appropriate than traditional sports? A recent study by Grigore, Mitrache, Predoiu and Rosca (2012) suggested that ‘contact’ sports were more effective than others in the development of hand-eye coordination in participants. Further to this, a research study was conducted that evaluated the effectiveness of Handball (new sport) and Rugby League (traditional sport) at developing hand-eye coordination.

This study utilising a standardised ‘Hand wall toss’ test, as described by Ashtok (2008), by throwing a hand sized ball with one hand and catching it with the other, assessed based on the number of catches in a 30 second period. Students were assessed before a 6-week programme of delivery, in one of the two sports, and also after the programme. The table below shows the averages defined by this test.

Table 1


After the first results had been recorded and the 6 week programme was completed all the students were re-tested and the two-sets of data analysed.

Table 2

Using a ‘T-Test’ (William and Wragg, 2004) to evaluate the level of positive correlation between the results obtained and the sports, a measure of less than 0.1 would indicate a relationship between the variables (Gratton and Jones, 2010). Following analysis it can be seen that Handball generated a value of 0.0825 whereas Rugby League’s value was 0.4280. This suggests that there was no relationship between the Rugby League programme and the hand-eye coordination results. However the results of the Handball programme had a value less than 0.1, strongly suggesting that Handball was the reason for the increase in hand-eye coordination.


On average handball improved hand eye coordination by 16% across the range of scores while the change in the scores from Rugby League was a drop of 1.3%. Based on the results of this study it can be suggested that Handball has a greater impact in developing the core fundamental sport skill of hand-eye coordination than ‘traditional’ curriculum sports. As such handball has the potential to have a greater positive influence, than ‘traditional’ sports, on the competence of participants in this vital transferable skill.

Given the suggestion that ‘newer’ sports such as Handball have a positive contribution to make to the PE curriculum, is it time for PE professionals and departments to review the sports selected for the national curriculum?

Photo: Comodoro Deportes

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  1. This could lead the way in cross sports cooperation and development within schools as a fundamental ball skills package. Something in my opinion that is long over due.