Virtual reality offers new tools for human motion understanding. Several applications have been widely used in teleoperation, military training, driving and flying simulators, and so forth. We propose to test if virtual reality is a valid training tool for the game of handball. We focused on the duel between a handball goalkeeper and a thrower. To this end, we defined a pilot experiment divided into two steps: an experiment with real subjects and another one with virtual throwers. The throwers' motions were captured in order to animate their avatar in a reality center. In this paper, we focused on the evaluation of presence when a goalkeeper is confronting these avatars. To this end, we compared the goalkeeper's gestures in the real and in the virtual experiment to determine if virtual reality engendered the same movements for the same throw. Our results show that gestures did not differ between the real and virtual environment. As a consequence, we can say that the virtual environment offered enough realism to initiate natural gestures. Moreover, as in real games, we observed the goalkeeper's anticipation to allow us to use virtual reality in future work as a way to understand the goalkeeper and thrower interactions. The main originality of this work was to measure presence in a sporting application with new evaluation methods based on motion capture.