Handball is a 7 versus 7 player team sport played on a court. Handball games are typically 30 minutes long, and the objective is to score more goals than your opponent within that time frame. Handball is a very high scoring game: teams usually score 20 to 35 goals per game each.
Goals are scored in handball by throwing the ball into the opposing team's net. Each team has a goalkeeper whose job is to stop shots on goal, much like a soccer or hockey goalkeeper. There is also a crease around the goal where only the defending goalie is allowed to stand. This means the offensive players must shoot from the outside of the crease.
The first traces of handball come from Ancient Roman Women. In Medieval France, there also existed handball-like games. The first official handball games were played in Denmark in the 19th century.
These days handball is the most popular in Europe. The International Handball Federation was formed in 1946, which governs over the professional level of the sport.
The top teams in handball come from mostly European countries. There was only one time ever that a non-European team won a medal in the Olympics.
The most important rule in handball is concerning how a goal is scored. The objective of the game is to score more goals than your opponent, so determining what is or is not a goal is very important.
To score a goal, a player must throw the ball into the opposing team's goal. There is a 6 meter crease surrounding the goal where only the defending goalie can stand. If a player scores a goal from within this zone, it is not counted as a goal. The physical goals are two meters high and three meters wide. This is half the length and half the width of a typical ice hockey goal.
After a goal is scored, a throw-off occurs.
Typically there are between 40 and 70 goals scored in total during a game. That's more than two goals a minute! This puts a heavy importance on scoring goals each possession, similar to in basketball.
Handball games are thirty minutes long. Each game consists of two periods, each of which are 15 minutes long. Between the two periods is a half time which lasts about 15 minutes. After half time, the two teams switch sides of the court. They also switch benches, which is different from similar sports such as soccer and hockey.
Regular season games, depending on the league, can end in a tie. However, if a decision must be reached there will be an overtime period. Overtimes are sudden death, meaning the first goal to be scored is the game winner. There can be at most two overtime periods, each of which last five minutes. If there is no winner after the two overtime periods, a shootout is used to decide a winner. Shootouts are best of five rounds, with extra rounds if necessary. This shootout style is similar to penalty kicks in soccer.
Teams can make substitutions at any point during the game, similar to in ice hockey. There is a special substitution area where players who are going to enter the game must wait. There is no limit on how many substitutions a team can make or how many times one player can come in and out of the game.
Handball is a 7 versus 7 player game. Additionally, teams are allowed to have 7 players on their bench. This means the average player plays about half of the game. Since handball is a very fast paced game, it is important to make quick substitutions to keep the players refreshed.
A team's substitution area is on the same side of the court as the goal that they are defending. At half time, when the teams switch sides, they switch substitution areas as well.
Dribbling is an important way to move the ball in handball. A ball carrier may dribble for as long as he wishes, similar to basketball. However, after he stops dribbling he may only take three steps. If the player stops moving after they stop dribbling, they have three seconds to pass or shoot the ball. If the player returns to dribbling after they have already stopped, a double dribble infraction is called.
An infraction of any of these dribbling rules results in a loss of possession. A wasted possession is costly in handball, so players must not make mindless dribbling errors.
Passing is a much faster way to move the ball than dribbling. Since handball is a very fast paced sport, passing is used much more commonly to move the ball.
Referees can give players penalties for any illegal action. Small infractions result in a free-throw, whereas more serious actions can result in penalties.
Referees give out penalties progressively. For a typical penalty, such as illegal contact to another player, a yellow card will be given out. If a player collects three yellow cards he will receive a red card and be ejected from the game. This will also result in his team having to play down a man for two minutes.
Red cards can also be given out for one particularly serious infraction. An example of this is if a player attempts to injure another player.
If players argue penalties with the referee, they are typically given a yellow card. Coaches can also receive penalties or ejections. This usually happens when a coach disagrees with a call the referee makes.
If there is a penalty which prevents a clear scoring opportunity, a seven-meter free throw will be awarded.
A throw-off is used to restart play after a goal or at the beginning of a period. One team is given possession of the ball, and they elect one player to throw the ball into play. This player lines up in the middle of the court, and all the opposing players must stay on the other side of the court at least three meters away. The thrower passes the ball to one of his teammates to restart play. After that, normal play commences.
Many teams have set plays to execute immediately after a throw-off. Having a quick play ready can allow you to score a quick goal before the opposing team is ready.
A throw-in is used to restart play after a ball goes out of bounds. This can happen from a ball being thrown or deflected passed the sideline, or hitting the ceiling. In either case, there is a dead ball, meaning play stops and the clock freezes. Next, a player on the team who did not put the ball out of bounds is awarded a throw-in.
The player who is awarded the throw-in must stand out of bounds in the place nearest to where the ball went out of play. Players on the other team must stand at least three meters away, in bounds. However, if the opposing team's goal is within three meters of the player executing the throw-in, the defenders may stand within three meters in order to defend their goal. Play resumes when the player with the ball passes it inbounds. He can not walk in bounds.
A goalkeeper-throw is the most common turnover in handball. This occurs when the attacking team throws the ball out of bounds over the goal line, rather than off to the sides of the court. This commonly happens when missing a shot, or making a bad stretch pass. A goal-keeper throw also occurs after a ball goes out of bounds over the goal line after being deflected by the goalkeeper. This happens commonly, because if the goalie makes a save the ball will often be deflected out of bounds off of him. Lastly, the goalkeeper-throw can occur after the attacking team has a crease violation.
When a goalkeeper-throw happens, the goalie is given the ball in his crease. He can pass the ball from anywhere within his crease to restart play.
A free-throw occurs after any interruption by the referee, which usually is a slight infringement by the defending team. A free-throw is similar to a free kick in soccer, but it offers much less of an advantage. A free-throw is executed from the spot of the foul. If that spot is within the free-throw line, the free-throw will take place at the closest point on the free-throw arc.
The free-throw arc is very far away from the goal, so it is very difficult to score off a free-throw. As a result, most players elect to pass the ball on a free-throw.
A Seven-meter throw is the equivalent of a penalty kick in soccer. It occurs after a clear scoring chance is illegally prohibited, no matter where on the court the scoring chance was.
There is a special spot on the court for seven-meter throws. As the name suggests, it is seven meters away from the goal. The goalie must stand within four meters of his own goal, so that he can not completely cut off the angle. All other players must wait behind the free-throw line.
The thrower must wait to shoot until after the referee signifies him to do so. If anyone on the defensive team makes an infringement, such as moving past the free-throw line, the shot will be repeated. Once the ball is thrown, the gameplay is resumed.