Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

What Are The Rules Of Handball

By admin Jun17,2024


Handball is a fast-paced, exciting sport that combines elements of basketball, soccer, and water polo. Played on a rectangular court with goals at each end, teams work to score by throwing a ball into the opposing team’s goal. Handball is both an Olympic sport and a popular recreational activity worldwide. Understanding the rules of handball is essential for both players and fans. This comprehensive guide will cover everything from the basic rules to the more nuanced regulations of the game. Handball, also known as team handball or Olympic handball, originated in Europe in the early 20th century.


The Court and Equipment

The Court

A standard handball court is 40 meters long and 20 meters wide. The court is divided into two halves, with a goal at each end. Key areas on the court include:

The Goal Area: A semicircular area extending 6 meters from the goal.

The Free Throw Line: Also known as the 9-meter line, it is a dashed line located 3 meters outside the goal area.

The 7-Meter Line: Located 7 meters in front of each goal, this line marks where penalty shots are taken.

The Center Line: Divides the court into two halves.


The Ball: Handballs are made of leather or synthetic material. The size and weight of the ball vary by age and gender:

Men: Size 3, circumference 58-60 cm, weight 425-475 g.

Women and junior boys (12-16): Size 2, circumference 54-56 cm, weight 325-375 g.

Children (8-12): Size 1, circumference 50-52 cm, weight 290-330 g.

Player Attire: Players wear standard sportswear, including jerseys, shorts, and indoor sports shoes. Goalkeepers wear distinctive jerseys to stand out from field players.

Basic Rules of Play

Starting the Game

Coin Toss: A coin toss determines which team starts with the ball. The winning team can choose to start with the ball or pick a side of the court.

Throw-Off: The game begins with a throw-off from the center line. The team taking the throw-off passes the ball to a teammate to start play.

Playing Time

Duration: A standard handball match consists of two halves, each lasting 30 minutes, with a 10-minute halftime break. For youth matches, the halves may be shorter.

Overtime: If the match is tied at the end of regulation time, overtime periods of 5 minutes each may be played, with a maximum of two overtime periods. If still tied, the match can be decided by a penalty shootout.

The Ball in Play

Passing: Players pass the ball to teammates to advance toward the opponent’s goal.

Dribbling: Players can dribble the ball similarly to basketball, but they are limited to three steps before they must pass, shoot, or dribble.

Holding: A player can hold the ball for a maximum of three seconds before passing or dribbling.


Goals: A goal is scored when the entire ball crosses the goal line inside the goal. Each goal counts as one point.

Scoring Attempts: Players can shoot from any position on the court, except from inside the goal area. Jump shots and powerful throws are common scoring methods.

Player Positions and Roles

Outfield Players

Left and Right Wing: Positioned near the sidelines, wings are responsible for fast breaks and sharp-angle shots.

Left and Right Backcourt: Positioned further from the goal, backcourt players are typically the strongest shooters.

Center Backcourt (Center): The playmaker who organizes the attack and distributes the ball.

Pivot (Circle Runner): Positioned near the opponent’s goal area, the pivot creates space and opportunities for teammates.


Role: The goalkeeper’s primary responsibility is to prevent the ball from entering the goal. They use their body and hands to block shots.

Privileges: Goalkeepers can touch the ball with any part of their body and are the only players allowed inside the goal area.

Offensive and Defensive Play

Offensive Strategies

Fast Break: A quick transition from defense to offense, aiming to score before the opponent’s defense is set.

Set Play: Organized attacks involving passes and player movements to create shooting opportunities.

Screens and Picks: Players use their bodies to block defenders and create space for shooters.

Defensive Strategies

Man-to-Man Defense: Each defender is responsible for marking a specific offensive player.

Zone Defense: Defenders cover specific areas of the court rather than individual players.

Press Defense: Aggressive defense to disrupt the opponent’s attack and force turnovers.


Fouls and Penalties

Common Fouls

Holding, Pushing, and Tripping: Illegal physical contact to impede an opponent.

Hitting and Blocking: Using the arms or hands to hit the ball away from an opponent or block their progress.

Illegal Dribble: Dribbling with both hands simultaneously or dribbling again after holding the ball.

Penalty Types

Free Throw: Awarded for minor fouls. Taken from the spot where the foul occurred or from the 9-meter line if inside the goal area.

7-Meter Throw: Awarded for major fouls that prevent a clear scoring opportunity. Taken from the 7-meter line.

Progressive Punishments: Includes warnings (yellow card), 2-minute suspensions, and disqualifications (red card) for repeated or severe fouls.

Special Situations


Unlimited Substitutions: Players can be substituted at any time during the game. Substitutions must occur through the designated substitution area.

Goalkeeper Substitution: A goalkeeper can be replaced by another goalkeeper or an outfield player. When an outfield player replaces the goalkeeper, they must wear a distinctive jersey.

Passive Play

Definition: Passive play occurs when a team makes no attempt to attack and score. The referees will warn the team and may award the ball to the opposing team if the passive play continues.

Indicators: Referees signal passive play by raising their arm. The attacking team must then make a shot on goal within a few passes.

Throw-Ins and Throw-Outs

Throw-In: Awarded when the ball crosses the sideline. The opposing team throws the ball back into play from the spot where it went out.

Throw-Out: Taken by the goalkeeper when the ball crosses the goal line outside the goalposts, last touched by an attacking player.

Game Management and Officials


Number of Referees: A handball match is officiated by two referees who have equal authority and responsibility for enforcing the rules.

Responsibilities: Referees oversee the game, enforce rules, and make decisions on fouls, penalties, and scoring.

Table Officials

Roles: Include the scorekeeper and timekeeper who manage the game clock, keep track of the score, and record fouls and penalties.

Assistance: Table officials assist referees by ensuring the game runs smoothly and fairly.

Variations of Handball

Beach Handball

Differences: Played on sand with teams of four players each. The smaller court and different rules emphasize agility and acrobatic plays.

Scoring: Goals scored in an acrobatic manner or by the goalkeeper count for two points.

Mini Handball

Target Audience: Designed for young children to introduce them to the sport.

Modifications: Smaller court and goals, and often fewer players on each team to accommodate the abilities of young players.



Handball is a dynamic and engaging sport with a rich set of rules and strategies. Its blend of physical activity, teamwork, and strategic depth makes it a compelling game for players and spectators alike. Understanding the rules of handball enhances the appreciation of the sport and provides a solid foundation for playing and enjoying the game. Whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned player, the rules outlined in this guide will help you navigate the intricacies of handball, ensuring that you can participate in and enjoy this exciting sport to its fullest. As handball continues to grow in popularity worldwide, a solid grasp of its rules will only become more valuable.

By admin

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