Handball Rules

Handball
Photo credit: Armin Kübelbeck (Source)

The origins of handball can be traced back to medieval times but it was in 1906 that the rules of modern handball were first created in Denmark. The game is hugely popular in Northern and Eastern Europe but is played around the world.

The governing body of the game is the International Handball Federation, who also organise the World Championships. It is believed that there are around 19 million handball players in the world today.

Handball is traditionally played indoors but there have been variations such as field handball and beach handball (sometimes referred to as sandball) that have been played outdoors.

Object Of The Game

The object of handball is to score more points than your opponent.

A handball game lasts for a regulation 60 minutes. This is split into two periods of 30 minutes each with a 15 minute interval. For younger players, the period time can be reduced to 20 minutes.

Players & Equipment

The standard handball games features 7 players on each side, six outfield players and one goalkeeper. A team will also have 7 substitutes, which can be used on a rolling basis and with no need to notify the referee.

There is semi-circle area around each goal area, sometimes referred to as the crease or the zone. There is also a dashed semi-circle line which lies 9 metres from goal, which is the free throw line.

The ball must be made from leather or synthetic material and it must be of a size to fit in the hand of a player. This means that there are three regulation sizes of handball. One for over 8s where the ball has a circumference of 50-52 cm, a II for women and males aged 12 to 16 where the ball has a circumference of 54-56cm and a III for males aged 16 and over, with a circumference of 58-60cm.

A handball game can be played with a court, two goals and a ball. Official games will see teams where uniforms.

Scoring

A goal is scored in handball when the ball is thrown into the opponent’s goal.

Winning The Game

To win in handball you must score more than your opponent.

If the handball game is drawn then there must be a winner; then periods of overtime with a maximum of 2 5 minute periods are played. If the scores are still level, a shoot-out is used to determine the result of the game.

Rules of Handball

  • A match consists of two periods of 30 minutes each.
  • Each team consists of 7 players; a goalkeeper and 6 outfield players.
  • Outfield players can touch the ball with any part of their body that is above the knee.
  • Once a player receives possession, they can pass, hold possession or shoot.
  • If a player holds possession, they can dribble or take three steps for up to three seconds without dribbling.
  • Only the goalkeeper is allowed to come into contact with the floor of the goal area.
  • Goalkeepers are allowed out of the goal area but must not retain possession if they are outside the goal area.

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