The second fastest game after ice hockey!

The sport requires strength, speed, and agility and has been compared to being a cross between football and basketball, although the players (other than the goalkeeper) are not permitted to kick the ball. This high-scoring contact game originated in Germany and in Scandinavia and joined the Olympic Program in 1972.

The team handball game of today was organized at the end of the 19th century in Northern Europe, specifically in places such as Norway and Denmark. In many parts of Europe, it was played with 7 players per team on an indoor field. However, in other parts, it was played outdoors with each team consisting of 11 players. The first written set of team handball rules was published in 1906 by Holger Nielsen (Danish gym teacher, lieutenant and Olympic medalist), and later the modern set of rules was published in 1917 by a group of Germans: Max Heiser, Karl Schelenz, and Erich Konigh; and finally, two years later were later modified and improved by Schelenz. The first international games were played under these rules, between Germany and Belgium by men in 1925 and between Germany and Austria by women in 1930. Nowadays, the sport is now played in over 150 countries, including variations.

As previously stated, this sport is either played between two teams of either 7 or 11 players who attempt to throw or hit an inflated ball into a goal at either end of a rectangular playing area while they are preventing their opponents from doing so, and the objective is to score the most points by throwing the ball past a goalkeeper into the net. It consists of 2 thirty-minute halves with an intermission. They are allowed to pass, dribble, or hit the ball with any part of the body above the knee; however, the goalkeeper is allowed to kick the ball. One key rule is that a player is not allowed to run more than 3 steps with the ball or hold it for longer than 3 seconds.

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As shown above:

Handball positions consist of a goalkeeper (the player who defends the goal with just about every part of the body and it is the only player who can touch the ball with their feet), left and right backs (usually the largest players on the handball team; when defending, they try to block shots, and in attack they are the long-range handball shooters), two wingers (which are the fastest players who patrol the sides of the court and look to create openings for other players and shoot from the more difficult angles), a circle runner (the creative force in attack and disruption to opponents when defending, this players must be quick in order to create openings for teammates and to get into a good scoring position themselves), and a center (a creative handball player who directs play in both defense and attack, also known as the ‘playmaker’ and sets up the tactics and the players in shooting positions). There are 14 players in each team in handball, with seven on the pitch at any one time. However, substitution is allowed at any moment, without limit and without time stoppage. There are seven substitutes on the sidelines for each handball side, but a substitute can’t play until the player they are swapping for is off the court.


- There are 7 players on each team (6 players and one goalie)

- A regular game of handball is played in two thirty minute halves.

- The game begins with a coin toss, where the winning team can choose to start with or without the ball.

- Each team must begin in its own half of the court 3 meters away from the ball; following the whistle a throw- off starts the game.

- A throw-off happens after every goal scored, and after halftime.

- The court is slightly larger than a basketball court, the most significant line being the 6-meter line marking the goal area in which only the goalie is allowed. The 7-meter line is the penalty line.

- A goal is scored whenever the entire ball passes the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar.

- Dribbling is permitted. However, as soon as the ball is held with one or both hands, it must be passed after three steps or three-seconds.

- Substitutes are made at any time and without the play being stopped. There is no limit to the number that can be made. Substitutions must be made in the special area near the center line and the sub cannot enter until the player has left the court.

- A free throw is awarded for any of these infringements: an opponent is fouled, the ball is played incorrectly, the line around the goal area is touched or crossed. Players behave in an unsportsmanlike manner, deliberately waste time, or due to incorrect substitution.

- A throw-in is awarded when the ball crosses the sideline. The non-offending team throws the ball back into play. The player taking the throw-in must place one foot on the sideline. A goal can be scored directly from a throw-in.


Likewise, there are some things that players can do such as dribble for as long as they want and run with the ball for up to 3 steps after dribbling, in addition to holding the ball without moving for 3 seconds; but also many things that they cannot due including contact with the ball below the knees (kick), endangering an opponent with the ball, and most importantly, they can’t punch, hit, pull, or aggressively take the ball from the opponent.

In the case of serious infringements or when a goal-scoring opportunity is spoiled by an infringement, a penalty shot is given. All other players, except the defending goalkeeper, must be outside the free throw line while the player takes the penalty from the penalty line (7 meters). Penalties in this game include:

- A free throw (awarded for minor fouls/violations at the exact spot it took place)

- A 7-meter penalty shot (that occurs when a foul prevents a goal, the ball is intentionally played to the goalie, or the goalie carries the ball back into the goalie area)

- Yellow and red cards, as well as suspensions and exclusions, are awarded for more serious violations

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When playing handball it is important to have the following equipment: firstly, it is key to choose the right training shoes in order to ensure perfect movement control and good handball shoes must have an excellent grip, give lateral support as well, need to be lightweight, and also need to give good ventilation for the foot (rubber sole is the best and some materials used for good foot support are leather which is soft and comfortable and nylon mesh that provides breathability).

Also, it is fundamental to choose the right handball that is made of leather as it provides better grip; the circumference of the Handball is different for men and women. The chart below shows how the circumference and weight of the ball vary depending on age and gender:

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A regulation team handball court is 20m x 40m. There are four lines marked on the court, the 6m/goal area line, the 7m/penalty line, the 9m/free throw line, and a centerline midway between the two baselines. Additionally, the official size goal for handball is 2 m high and 3 m wide; it has a net hung on it in such a way that a ball thrown into the goal will not bounce straight out again. The net is one meter deep at the base of the goal.


Cristina Neagu

Out of the women who perform this sport, one of the best of them is Cristina Neagu: a Romanian professional handballer for who plays CSM București and the Romania national team.

BORN: August 26, 1988 (29 yrs)

HEIGHT: 1.8 m

WEIGHT: 69 kg


Watch her play on the link below!


Handball Terminology

Like in any other sport there are some words we must keep in mind when reading or playing handball. By clicking on the button shown above you will be directed to a document that shows handball's most common terms!

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In conclusion, handball is this fast-paced sport is gaining popularity throughout the world and is played by 39 million people in 159 different nations. It is a game where very quick defenders attempt to prevent the attackers from scoring goals, and players perform a variety of movements including jumping, running, throwing, and catching. Moreover, this sport includes a variety of health and fitness benefits, such as improving arm muscles and upper body strength, boosting the body’s flexibility, and developing agility of hands and feet with sudden changes of pace and direction. Additionally, it can improve mental focus and self-confidence and provide the body with a good cardiovascular workout (feeding more oxygen to the muscles via the bloodstream).


  1. “Handball Equipment.” Home, www.bchandball.ca/index.php/about/whatisteamhandball/handball-equipment.
  2. Wpadminskhdev. “Court & Field Dimension Diagrams in 3D, History, Rules – SportsKnowHow.com.” Court Field Dimension Diagrams in 3D History Rules SportsKnowHowcom, www.sportsknowhow.com/team-handball/rules/team-handball-rules.html.
  3. Sport Ticket Exchange. “Handball Summary.” Sport Ticket Exchange, 3 Apr. 2012, sporttixexchange.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/handball-summary/.
  4. “Handball 101: Glossary.” NBC Olympics, www.nbcolympics.com/news/handball-101-glossary.
  5. “Rules of Handball.” Home, www.bchandball.ca/index.php/about/whatisteamhandball/rules-of-handball.
  6. Team, Realbuzz. “The Beginner's Guide To Playing Handball.” Realbuzz 5, 12 June 2017, www.realbuzz.com/articles-interests/sports-activities/article/the-beginners-guide-to-playing-handball/.
  7. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Team Handball.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 May 2017, www.britannica.com/sports/team-handball.

By: Estefania Perez