If you’re from North America then team handball or Olympic handball is probably not a sport you’re particularly familiar with. Extremely popular in Western Europe handball can trace its roots to France, Germany and Scandinavia. More modern versions of the game have developed in Denmark and Germany. Men’s handball was introduced to the Olympics back in 1972 while women had to wait another four years until 1976. The game is a weird cross between soccer and American football, while virtually unheard of in North America.
Who plays handball?
Handball is played by both men and women and each team has 12 players, with two of the player are goalkeepers and the rest of the team playing in the outfield. At any given time during a game each side has one goalkeeper and 6 players on the field at one time, while the remaining players sit on the bench. You can swap out players, where someone from the bench replaces a player on the field. The rules state you can only have 7 players or less on the field at once.
How do you play Handball?
Team handball is a bit similar to soccer but with a couple of big difference. The ball is similar to a soccer ball only smaller; however men’s handball the ball is bigger than in the women’s handball. You use your hands to pass the ball to other team members and the whole object of the game is to outscore the other team by throwing the ball into the opposing goal. There’s a line roughly 6 meters or about 20 feet from the goal and the defending goalkeeper is the only player allowed in this zone. It has another line roughly 9 meters or 30 feet where free throws can be taken. Lastly 7 meters from the goal is where players stand to take penalty shots.
Here is a handball match in action from the 2016 Rio Olympics, it will give you a visual as to how the sport is played.
A typical score after a handball match would be in the neighborhood of 25-23 with playing time comprised of two halves of 30 minutes each. There is a halftime break that is usually around 10-15 minutes for a rest. The game always has 2 referees with on in the middle of the field and the other following the action where the defending players are. There can be two minute penalties and the team will lose a player for two minutes. The rules of the game allow for teams to pass the ball in any direction but every three steps you need to bounce the ball.
Handball is an intense action packed sport, check with your local handball association if you’d like to give it a try.