Handball Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Handball, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

How to Play Handball

Handball, a fast paced, team game, that combines basketball and soccer like goal scoring, was first popular in Europe. The object of the game is to score goals by advancing the ball up the court by dribbling, passing, or taking three steps, and successfully shooting the ball into the opponents net.

Handball History

Handball dates back to medieval France. By the 19th century forms of handball were being played in Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Uruguay. The first set of rules for modern day handball were established by a Danish gym teacher in 1898, and published in 1906. The first international games were played between Germany and Belgium for men in 1925 and between Germany and Austria for women in 1930. At the request of Adolf Hitler Men's field handball was played at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Handball was removed from the following Olympics. Team handball made its return in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. According to the International Handball Federation there are currently over 19 million handball players.

Handball Rules

Handball consists of two teams with seven players each. A team is made up of six outfielders and a goalkeeper. In addition to the players on the court each team is allowed seven substitutes. The game is played indoors on a court 40 m long and 20 m wide, with a goal in the center of each end. Goals are surrounded by a semicircle line six meters from the goal. The area between this line and the goal is called the zone or crease. Only the goal keeper is allowed in the crease. However, players can jump over the line and play the ball while they are in the air. A dashed semi circle line nine meters from the goal indicates the free-throw line. There is also a line at half court. Each goal is three meters wide and two meters in height. A player scores a goal by throwing the ball into the opposing team's goal. The team with the most goals after two 30 minute periods wins.

Field players are allowed to touch the ball with all parts of the body above the knee (including the knee). A player with the ball can only stand in place for three seconds and is allowed three steps with the ball. A player then must choose to dribble, pass, or shoot. Taking more than three steps results in a traveling violation and the ball goes to the other team. A player can dribble as much as he wants as long as his hand is on the top of the ball. After dribbling the player gets another three seconds or three steps. Dribbling again will result in a "double dribbling" violation. Other offensive infractions include, setting an illegal screen, charging, and carrying the ball into the crease.

The game begins with a throw-off, which takes place from the center of the court. During a throw-off, the thrower must touch the middle line with one foot and all of the other players must be in their team's half. A throw-off occurs at the beginning of each period, and after the opposing team scores a goal. When the ball leaves play a throw-in is awarded to the team that did not touch the ball last. A free-throw, equivalent to a free-kick in soccer, restarts play after an interruption in play. A free-throw takes place at the spot of the interruption, unless it occurred within the nine meter free-throw line. In that case, the throw is moved to the nearest spot outside the free-throw line. Reaching around, holding, pushing, hitting, tripping, or jumping into opponent, as well as contact from the side, or from behind a player, are all considered illegal and subject to penalty.

Handball Tips

Since passing is a faster means of attack, players should work on passing the ball rather than dribbling to advance the ball up the court. Players should keep their hands up on defense in order to block shots and cut off passing lanes. When dribbling, players should use their other hand to shield the ball and protect it from defensive players.

Handball Equipment

Handball requires a spherical ball made of leather or synthetic material, 58 - 60 cm in circumference. The goalkeeper on each team needs a different uniform or shirt then the rest of the players on his team. Some handball players use a resin on their hands to improve ball handling.