Mette's handball corner   for fans of Danish team handball

Rules for team handball

What is this all about, you may ask. Perhaps you don't even know what handball is, or confuse the terms handball and team handball. It's quite all-right - as long as you do not stay ignorant of this wonderful sport and of our women's team in particular. Each time I talk to my foreign friends and enthusiastically rave on about the team's latest achievements in the Olympics or World Championship, I always get the response: "What is handball? Isn't it something about hitting a ball with your hand like in squash? Or Raquett ball? And who cares after all?"

Well, more people ought to care about this exciting and entertaining sport. The women are even much more popular than our - formerly so great - male national team in football! What do you say to that fact, male hooligans and beer-bellied couch potatoes?! ;-) Thus the women's team is a fine example of female role models and innovators within sports, who can do much more than just looking pretty and obeying rules made by others. O.K, the popularity also derives from the fact that here we finally have a sport where Denmark is winning (nearly) all the time. That has a lot to do with it also.

This is what the court looks like and the positions of the players.

To help you understand the sport a bit better, I will rudely steal and quote this explanation from The Washington Post...:

About Team Handball

What Is Team Handball? The sport has been compared to basketball, hockey, soccer, water polo and rugby and sometimes confused with the game of handball that features two players, four walls and one rubber ball. There are no walls in team handball; the object is to throw a ball past a goalkeeper into a net for a goal -- worth one point -- using good teamwork and passing. Team handball is fast-paced and high-scoring with lots of contact.

"It's exactly like water polo, except we are on a court and not in the water," says Derek Brown, a Washington native and member of the U.S. men's team. "You have your basketball capabilities as well as some hockey, some rugby, some soccer. Mix that all together and you have team handball."

Court diagram
No one but the goalie is allowed inside the goal area.(The goalie defends a 2 metres high by 3 meters wide goal - my addition). A player may jump into the goal area before shooting but must release the ball before landing. (see also my court diagram)

Seven players per side, six court players and one goalkeeper. A maximum of 12 players may participate per side, with unlimited substitutions. Two referees officiate.

Games include two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute halftime.

Play begins with a throw-on at midcourt, which is repeated after each goal.(Attacking players move the ball up-court by passing or dribbling and shoot for goal from outside an arc marked on the court). Players may dribble the ball as in basketball but are allowed three steps before and after the dribble. Players are not allowed to play the ball with their legs below the knee or to dive on the floor to play a ball.

Defensive players are allowed to use their body to obstruct an opponent either with or without the ball. Pushing, holding, tripping and hitting are violations.

Free throws are awarded for violations; an offensive player can be penalized for charging into a defender. Free throws are taken from the point where the violation occurred, unless it occurs between the goal line and the free throw line, in which case the free throw line is used.

The handball
Size of a cantaloupe; inflated for good bounce and to give when pressed with thumb; weighs 16 ounces. (For women, the ball is 54 to 56 centimeters)

Big shooters: Usually tall, they are good leapers who shoot from the backcourt.

Middle backcourt players: Direct offense and shoot or try to penetrate the defense.

Circle runners: Screen and pick and shoot hard and fast from the six-meter line.

(Washington Post 1996)

You can also learn some more about the rules at the following sites:

World Sport
Basic Rules
Olympic USA

What is handball anyway? Ask the BBC


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