The Sport of Handball

The Sport of Handball



The handball we know today was invented in the late 1800s in Europe, but has historically been around since the Middle Ages. The fast-paced sport combines the likes of basketball, hockey, soccer, and water polo. There are roughly 19 million handball players throughout the world, and the sport is gaining in popularity on college campuses.


How to play Handball


The object of handball is essentially passing it to your teammates before tossing the ball in your opponent’s goal. The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.


Because of the fast-paced nature of handball, games, especially in the professional circuits, are very high scoring. Handball players must have overall athleticism, since the sport requires you to be quick on your feet and have relatively good arm strength.


Rules of Handball


  • In a game of handball, there are two teams of seven players. There are six field players that make up the offense and defense, and one goalkeeper on each team.
  • Each game of handball is split into two, 15 minute periods.
  • A handball court is similar to that of a basketball court. It is usually made of hardwood, and spans about 130 feet in length by 65 feet in width. There is a half-court line dividing the two teams, and a penalty line, goalkeeper line, and free-throw line on each side.
  • Field players can touch the ball with any part of their body above the knee. Goalkeepers can use any part of their body to stop a shot.
  • To navigate the court, players can pass the ball, shoot the ball, dribble, or run with it for up to three steps. Once the ball is held, there is a three second time limit until the ball needs to be passed off or shot. Failure to do so results in a turnover.
  • Goalkeepers can exit the goal area but cannot hold possession of the ball.
  • Holding, pushing, tripping, or similar illegal tactics can either result in a free-throw or a more serious penalty. These penalties range in punishment depending on the flagrancy of the foul.
  • In the event of a tie, there will be two, five minute OT periods added. If the game is still tied, then it will go to a shootout.


Handball truly is a fast sport, and is actually considered to be the second fastest “surface-based” sport behind ice hockey. Collisions are likely to happen, and in 2002, a professional player had a near-fatal injury after crashing into a goalkeeper and swallowing several teeth. Keep your head on a swivel!






Written by: Devin Pickell

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