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Articles: Handball


Handball is a dynamic and though sports game in which there are numerous body contacts of the players. The game is played fast, with alternate switching of the defence and attack phases. The activity of the players consists of different changeable moving around the court and different actions with hands, all with the one aim – to throw a ball towards the opponent’s goal and score.

In today’s form, handball is a pretty young game, and the origins of it were present in many European countries, mostly Scandinavian and Germany, at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.

One of those games was very similar to what handball is today and first showed up in Denmark in 1898, with the name “Håndbold”. The creator of that game was Holger Nielsen. First Olympic tournament, in which six countries took place, was held in 1936, during the XI Olympic Games in Berlin.

Handball is the most popular all over Europe, and it’s the most played here as well. But also, many people in Asia, Africa and America play it. Around 140 countries worldwide take part in different international handball competitions every year. Records say that around 2 million people play handball in all those countries and on many different levels.

A handball match

Each team consists of 14 players, 7 on court at any given time, one of which is a goalkeeper, and 7 as substitutes. Captain has the visible mark on his arm, or on his clothes. Players are generally referred to as the position on the court. Respectively, there is a goalkeeper and there are left and right wingman, left and right backcourt, centre backcourt and pivot. Pivot has a specific role to play all the direct tactics of the others.

The court is always indoors and has the shape of a rectangle. It is 40m long and 20m wide and it must be made of wood or adequate elastic materials. The goals stand in the middle of the goal-out line and are 3m wide and 2m high, and it features a net at the back.

The two-quarter circles or line (6-metre line) confine the goalkeeper’s part which is called D-zone. Only defending goalkeeper is allowed to be in this area. 3m away from that line is another dashed line (9-metre line) and it’s called the free-throw line.

The ball is round and made of adequate synthetic layer and rubber pneumatic with a matte surface. Men use a ball 58-60cm in diameter, and women 54-56cm.

Starting a handball match

At the very start of the game, the throw-off is taken by the team that wins the coin and elects to start with the ball in its possession. The opponents, in that case, have the right to choose ends. If the team that wins the coin prefers to choose ends, then the opponents take the throw-off. The teams switch ends for the second half of the game. The throw-off at the start of the second half is taken by the team that did not have the throw-off at the start of the game. A new coin toss is undertaken for each overtime period.

A match is 60 minutes long with a 10 minute break halfway.

Each team can have a 1 minute time-out in each half, and substitutions are unlimited and can be made at any time.

The rules of handball

You can touch the ball with all parts of the body, except the foot and part of the leg below the knee. You can hold the ball in the air or on the floor for not more than 3 seconds. With a ball in hands, you can take not more than three steps. It is not permitted to bounce the ball with one hand solely, you have to change hands. It is basically a non-contact sport. You are not allowed to block the opponent, to hold him, or run and jump into him, and you are also not allowed to pull or hit the ball out of his hands.

Passive play stands for keeping the ball in the team’s possession without making any recognizable attempt to attack or to shoot on goal. It is not allowed and will be penalized with the free-throw of the opponent team. Free-throw is given for different penalties, and the goal can be scored from the free-throw. The goal is scored if the ball has crossed the goal line with the whole surface.

A throw-in is awarded when the ball has completely crossed the side line, or when a player on the defending team was the last one to touch the ball before it crossed his team’s outer goal line. The goal can be scored from a throw-in.

The game is officiated by two equal referees, a time-keeper and a score-keeper. One referee is always in the field of the game, and the other is next to the goal. The functions are exchanged during the game. The referees interrupt the game and restart it with a free-throw for the opponents when the team in possession of the ball commits a violation of rules that must lead to a loss of possession or when the opponents commit a violation of rules that causes the team in possession of the ball to lose it.

7-metre throw is awarded when the clear chance for scoring has been obstructed by the player of the opposing team or the team official anywhere on the court. The shot on goal is to be taken within 3 seconds after the whistle from the referee.

Referees give warnings as yellow cards, for fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct that are to be punished progressively. 2 minutes suspension is given to the players who have already received the maximum number of warnings. A player can be suspended three times for 2 minutes, and after the third time he has no rights to play further in the game. Another player can substitute him in the game. If the player is disqualified, the team is smaller for one player and nobody can substitute him.

The rules are decided by International Handball Federation, the administrative and controlling body for international handball. Handball teams are most often organised as clubs, the clubs are associated in federations, which organize matches in tournaments and leagues. Handball match is won by the team who has more scored points. The game is drawn if the teams have equal number of scored points.

Strategy and tactics used in handball

Handball strategies stand for the rational way of throwing-in, movements around the court adjusted with the tasks and conditions. Elements of handball strategies are numerous and pretty complex.

Handball tactics stand for planned resolutions during the competitions, taking into account your and opponent’s teams possibilities.

Competing in handball

The International Handball Federation is made of five continental federations which organize continental championships held every other second year. In addition to these competitions between national teams, the federations arrange international tournaments between club teams. The IHF organizes world championships held in uneven years, and separately for women and men.

Betting on handball

Though handball may not be considered a major sport worldwide, handball betting is quite popular. There are various leagues and various aspects of the matches that people mostly bet on, but most usually on the winner of the match, tournament winner and on season champions.

Some of the leagues are EHF Champions League Men, EHF Cup Men, Germany Bundesliga, Germany Bundesliga Women, Switzerland SHL, Spain Asobal, Denmark Haandboldligaen Men, etc… The EHF Challenge Cup is an official European Handball Federation competition for men's clubs of Europe and takes place every year. The Asian Handball Club League Championship is the official competition for men's handball clubs of Asia, and takes place every year. In addition to crowning the Asian champions, the tournament also serves as a qualifying tournament for the Super Globe.