1 Origins and development 2 Rules
2.1 Summary 2.2 Playing field
2.2.1 Goals 2.2.2 D-Zone 2.2.3 Substitution area
2.3 Duration 2.4 Referees 2.5 Team players, substitutes, and officials
2.5.1 Field players 2.5.2 Goalkeeper 2.5.3 Team officials
2.6 Ball 2.7 Awarded throws 2.8 Penalties
3.1.1 Offense 3.1.2 Defense
3.2 Offensive play 3.3 Defensive play
4.1 International body 4.2 National competitions
4.2.1 Europe 4.2.2 Other
5 Attendance records 6 Commemorative coins 7 See also 8 References 9 External links
Origins and development
Stamp depicting 1972 Olympics
There is evidence of ancient Roman women playing a version of handball
called expulsim ludere. There are records of handball-like games in
medieval France, and among the
After receiving the ball, players can pass, keep possession, or shoot the ball. If possessing the ball, players must dribble (similar to a basketball dribble), or can take up to three steps for up to three seconds at a time without dribbling. No attacking or defending players other than the defending goalkeeper are allowed to touch the floor of the goal area (within six metres of the goal). A shot or pass in the goal area is valid if completed before touching the floor. Goalkeepers are allowed outside the goal area, but are not allowed to cross the goal area boundary with the ball in their hands. The ball may not be passed back to the goalkeeper when they are positioned in the goal area.
Notable scoring opportunities can occur when attacking players jump into the goal area. For example, an attacking player may catch a pass while launching inside the goal area, and then shoot or pass before touching the floor. Doubling occurs when a diving attacking player passes to another diving teammate. Playing field
Schematic diagram of a handball playing field
A standard match for all teams of at least age 16 has two 30-minute halves with a 10- to 15-minute halftime break. At half-time, teams switch sides of the court as well as benches. For youths the length of the halves is reduced—25 minutes at ages 12 to 15, and 20 minutes at ages 8 to 11; though national federations of some countries may differ in their implementation from the official guidelines. If a decision must be reached in a particular match (e.g., in a tournament) and it ends in a draw after regular time, there are at maximum two overtimes, each consisting of two straight 5-minute periods with a one-minute break in between. Should these not decide the game either, the winning team is determined in a penalty shootout (best-of-five rounds; if still tied, extra rounds afterwards until won by one team). The referees may call timeout according to their sole discretion; typical reasons are injuries, suspensions, or court cleaning. Penalty throws should trigger a timeout only for lengthy delays, such as a change of the goalkeeper. Since 2012, teams can call 3 team timeouts per game (up to two per half), which last one minute each. This right may only be invoked by team in ball possession. Team representatives must show a green card marked with a black T on the timekeeper's desk. The timekeeper then immediately interrupts the game by sounding an acoustic signal and stops the time. Before that, it was one per half. For purpose of calling timeouts, overtime and shootouts are extensions of the second half. Referees A handball match is led by two equal referees. Some national bodies allow games with only a single referee in special cases like illness on short notice. Should the referees disagree on any occasion, a decision is made on mutual agreement during a short timeout; or, in case of punishments, the more severe of the two comes into effect. The referees are obliged to make their decisions "on the basis of their observations of facts". Their judgements are final and can be appealed against only if not in compliance with the rules.
The referees (blue shirts) keep both teams between them.
The referees position themselves in such a way that the team players
are confined between them. They stand diagonally aligned so that each
can observe one side line. Depending on their positions, one is called
field referee and the other goal referee. These positions
automatically switch on ball turnover. They physically exchange their
positions approximately every 10 minutes (long exchange), and change
sides every five minutes (short exchange).
The IHF defines 18 hand signals for quick visual communication with
players and officials. The signal for warning or disqualification is
accompanied by a yellow or red card, respectively. The referees
also use whistle blows to indicate infractions or to restart the play.
The referees are supported by a scorekeeper and a timekeeper who
attend to formal things such as keeping track of goals and
suspensions, or starting and stopping the clock, respectively. They
also keep an eye on the benches and notify the referees on
substitution errors. Their desk is located between the two
Team players, substitutes, and officials
Each team consists of seven players on court and seven substitute
players on the bench. One player on the court must be the designated
goalkeeper, differing in his clothing from the rest of the field
players. Substitution of players can be done in any number and at any
time during game play. An exchange takes place over the substitution
line. A prior notification of the referees is not necessary.
Some national bodies, such as the Deutsche
A size III handball
The ball is spherical and must be made either of leather or a synthetic material. It is not allowed to have a shiny or slippery surface. As the ball is intended to be operated by a single hand, its official sizes vary depending on age and gender of the participating teams.
Size Class Circumference (cm) Circumference (in) Weight (g) Weight (oz)
III Women and male over-16s 58–60 23–24 425–475 15.0–16.8
II Women, male over-12s, and female over-14s 54–56 21–22 325–375 11.5–13.2
I Over-8s 50–52 20–20 290–330 10–12
Awarded throws The referees may award a special throw to a team. This usually happens after certain events such as scored goals, off-court balls, turnovers and timeouts. All of these special throws require the thrower to obtain a certain position, and pose restrictions on the positions of all other players. Sometimes the execution must wait for a whistle blow by the referee.
Throw-off A throw-off takes place from the center of the court. The thrower must touch the middle line with one foot, and all the other offensive players must stay in their half until the referee restarts the game. The defending players must keep a distance of at least three meters from the thrower until the ball leaves his hand. A throw-off occurs at the beginning of each period and after the opposing team scores a goal. It must be cleared by the referees.
Modern handball introduced the "fast throw-off" concept; i.e., the play will be immediately restarted by the referees as soon as the executing team fulfills its requirements. Many teams leverage this rule to score easy goals before the opposition has time to form a stable defense line.
Throw-in The team which did not touch the ball last is awarded a throw-in when the ball fully crosses the side line or touches the ceiling. If the ball crosses the outer goal line, a throw-in is awarded only if the defending field players touched the ball last. Execution requires the thrower to place one foot on the nearest outer line to the cause. All defending players must keep a distance of three metres (9.8 ft). However, they are allowed to stand immediately outside their own goal area even when the distance is less than three meters.
Goalkeeper-throw If the ball crosses the outer goal line without interference from the defending team or when deflected by the defending team's goalkeeper, or when the attacking team violates the D-zone as described above, a goalkeeper-throw is awarded to the defending team. This is the most common turnover. The goalkeeper resumes the play with a throw from anywhere within the goal area.
Free-throw A free-throw restarts the play after an interruption by the referees. It takes places from the spot where the interruption was caused, as long as this spot is outside of the free-throw line of the opposing team. In the latter case, the throw is deferred to the nearest spot on the free-throw line. Free-throws are the equivalent to free-kicks in association football; however, conceding them is typically not seen as poor sportsmanship for the defending side, and in itself, they carry no major disadvantages. (In particular, being awarded a free throw while being on warning for passive play will not reset the warning, whereas a shot on goal will.) The thrower may take a direct attempt for a goal which, however, is rarely feasible if the defending team has organised a defense. However, if a free throw is awarded and the half or game ends, a direct throw at the goal is typically attempted, which occasionally goes in.
A seven-metre throw
Seven-meter throw A seven-meter throw is awarded when a clear chance of scoring is illegally prevented anywhere on the court by an opposing team player, official, or spectator. It is awarded also when the referees have interrupted a legitimate scoring chance for any reason. The thrower steps with one foot behind the seven-metre (23 ft) line with only the defending goalkeeper between him and the goal. The goalkeeper must keep a distance of three metres (9.8 ft), which is marked by a short tick on the floor. All other players must remain behind the free-throw line until execution and the defending field players must keep a distance of three meters. The thrower must await the whistle blow of the referee. A seven-meter throw is the equivalent to a penalty kick in association football; however, it is far more common and typically occurs several times in a single game.
Yellow card shown in a handball match
Penalties are given to players, in progressive format, for fouls that require more punishment than just a free-throw. Actions directed mainly at the opponent and not the ball (such as reaching around, holding, pushing, tripping, and jumping into opponent) as well as contact from the side, from behind a player or impeding the opponent's counterattack are all considered illegal and are subject to penalty. Any infraction that prevents a clear scoring opportunity will result in a seven-meter penalty shot. Typically the referee will give a warning yellow card for an illegal action; but, if the contact was particularly dangerous, like striking the opponent in the head, neck or throat, the referee can forego the warning for an immediate two-minute suspension. A player can get only one warning before receiving a two-minute suspension. One player is only permitted two two-minute suspensions; after the third time, they will be shown the red card. A red card results in an ejection from the game and a two-minute penalty for the team. A player may receive a red card directly for particularly rough penalties. For instance, any contact from behind during a fast break is now being treated with a red card. A red-carded player has to leave the playing area completely. A player who is disqualified may be substituted with another player after the two-minute penalty is served. A coach or official can also be penalized progressively. Any coach or official who receives a two-minute suspension will have to pull out one of their players for two minutes; however, the player is not the one punished, and can be substituted in again, as the penalty consists of the team playing with a one player less than the opposing team. After referees award the ball to the opponents for whatever reason, the player currently in possession of the ball has to lay it down quickly, or else face a two-minute suspension. Also, gesticulating or verbally questioning the referee's order, as well as arguing with the officials' decisions, will normally result in a two-minute suspension. If the suspended player protests further, does not walk straight off the field to the bench, or if the referee deems the tempo deliberately slow, the player can be given an additional two-minute suspension. Illegal substitution (outside of the dedicated area, or if the replacement player enters too early) is also punishable by a two-minute suspension. Gameplay Formations
Positions of attacking (red) and defending players (blue), in a 5-1 defense formation
Positions of attacking (red) and defending players (blue), in a 6-0 defense formation
Players are typically referred to by the positions they are playing. The positions are always denoted from the view of the respective goalkeeper, so that a defender on the right opposes an attacker on the left. However, not all of the following positions may be occupied depending on the formation or potential suspensions. Offense
Left and right wingman.These typically are fast players who excel at ball control and wide jumps from the outside of the goal perimeter in order to get into a better shooting angle at the goal. Teams usually try to occupy the left position with a right-handed player and vice versa. Left and right backcourt. Goal attempts by these players are typically made by jumping high and shooting over the defenders. Thus, it is usually advantageous to have tall players with a powerful shot for these positions. Centre backcourt. A player with experience is preferred on this position who acts as playmaker and the handball equivalent of a basketball point guard. Pivot (left and right, if applicable). This player tends to intermingle with the defence, setting picks and attempting to disrupt the defence's formation. This positions requires the least jumping skills; but ball control and physical strength are an advantage.
Sometimes, the offense uses formations with two pivot players. Defense There are many variations in defensive formations. Usually, they are described as n:m formations, where n is the number of players defending at the goal line and m the number of players defending more offensive. Exceptions are the 3:2:1 defense and n+m formation (e.g. 5+1), where m players defend some offensive player in man coverage (instead of the usual zone coverage).
Far left and far right. The opponents of the wingmen. Half left and half right. The opponents of the left and right backcourts. Back center (left and right). Opponent of the pivot. Front center. Opponent of the center backcourt, may also be set against another specific backcourt player.
Offensive play Attacks are played with all field players on the side of the defenders. Depending on the speed of the attack, one distinguishes between three attack waves with a decreasing chance of success:
Women's handball - a jump shot completes a fast-break
Men's handball - a jump shot (Kiril Lazarov, world record-holder for the number of goals scored in one world championship)
First wave First wave attacks are characterised by the absence of defending players around their goal perimeter. The chance of success is very high, as the throwing player is unhindered in his scoring attempt. Such attacks typically occur after an intercepted pass or a steal, and if the defending team can switch fast to offence. The far left or far right will usually try to run the attack, as they are not as tightly bound in the defence. On a turnover, they immediately sprint forward and receive the ball halfway to the other goal. Thus, these positions are commonly held by quick players. Second wave If the first wave is not successful and some defending players have gained their positions around the zone, the second wave comes into play: the remaining players advance with quick passes to locally outnumber the retreating defenders. If one player manages to step up to the perimeter or catches the ball at this spot, he becomes unstoppable by legal defensive means. From this position, the chance of success is naturally very high. Second wave attacks became much more important with the "fast throw-off" rule.
Third wave The time during which the second wave may be successful is very short, as then the defenders closed the gaps around the zone. In the third wave, the attackers use standardised attack patterns usually involving crossing and passing between the back court players who either try to pass the ball through a gap to their pivot, take a jumping shot from the backcourt at the goal, or lure the defence away from a wingman.
The third wave evolves into the normal offensive play when all
defenders not only reach the zone, but gain their accustomed
positions. Some teams then substitute specialised offence players.
However, this implies that these players must play in the defence
should the opposing team be able to switch quickly to offence. The
latter is another benefit for fast playing teams.
If the attacking team does not make sufficient progress (eventually
releasing a shot on goal), the referees can call passive play (since
about 1995, the referee gives a passive warning some time before the
actual call by holding one hand up in the air, signalling that the
attacking team should release a shot soon), turning control over to
the other team. A shot on goal or an infringement leading to a yellow
card or two-minute penalty will mark the start of a new attack,
causing the hand to be taken down; but a shot blocked by the defense
or a normal free throw will not. If it were not for this rule, it
would be easy for an attacking team to stall the game indefinitely, as
it is difficult to intercept a pass without at the same time conceding
dangerous openings towards the goal.
The usual formations of the defense are 6–0, when all the defense
players line up between the 6-metre (20 ft) and 9-metre
(30 ft) lines to form a wall; the 5–1, when one of the players
cruises outside the 9-metre (30 ft) perimeter, usually targeting
the center forwards while the other 5 line up on the 6-metre
(20 ft) line; and the less common 4–2 when there are two such
defenders out front. Very fast teams will also try a 3–3 formation
which is close to a switching man-to-man style. The formations vary
greatly from country to country, and reflect each country's style of
play. 6–0 is sometimes known as "flat defense", and all other
formations are usually called "offensive defense".
Angola Men's Handball League (men), Angola Women's Handball
The current worldwide attendance record for seven-a-side handball was
set on September 6, 2014, during a neutral venue German league game
UK 2012 Olympics commemorative coin
^ Barbara Schrodt (6 October 2011). "Team Handball". The Canadian
Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion Institute.
^ "Member Federations". International
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