Handball: Two Sports in One

By Shayla M.

Have you ever heard of handball? If not, you aren’t alone. When people think of sports they think of the four major sports: football, basketball, baseball, and soccer.  Although handball isn’t widely known, this is a sport that is a combination of basketball and soccer. Because there are two sports going on at once, the game is upbeat and exciting. There is never a dull moment! If you don’t think of yourself as a football or basketball type of athlete, then handball is the sport for you.

Team handball originated in northern Europe in the countries of Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. The first written team handball rules were published in 1906 by the Danish gym teacher, lieutenant and Olympic medalist, Holger Nielsen. The modern game of handball evolved towards the end of the 19th century in Scandinavia and Germany.  The modern set of rules was published on October 24, 1917 by Germans Max Heiser, Karl Schelenz, and Erich Konign.

The rules of handball are simple. It is played with seven players at a time on each team (six court players and one goalie). When you first start the game a throw-off is taken by the team that wins the coin toss and is chosen to start the game with the ball. Handball positions consist of a goalkeeper, two fullbacks , two wings, a circle runner, and a center. There are 14 players on each team in handball, with seven on the pitch at any time.  Each team must be in its own half of the court with the defense three meters away from the ball. Following a whistle, the ball is passed from center court to a teammate and the game begins. After receiving the ball, you can pass, keep possession, or shoot the ball. If possessing the ball, players must dribble (similar to a basketball dribble) or you can take up to three steps without dribbling. A player is allowed to run three steps with the ball before it must be bounced, passed, or shot. If you bounce the ball again you can take another three steps but the ball must then be passed or a shot taken at the goal. If a player with the ball is stationary and not dribbling a three second rule applies instead of three steps. When about to shoot the ball no one except the goalie is allowed to stand in the goal area or else the point doesn’t count.

Handball has multiple required to play the game. The indoor court has a hard surface and all lines are two inches thick. The only exception is the goal line which is three inches thick.  All the lines must be prominent and of the same color. A handball court is 40 meters long by 20 meters wide and is slightly bigger than a basketball court which is 94 by 50 feet. The kind of ball that is used in the game is spherical and must be made either of leather or a synthetic material. It is not allowed to have a shiny or slippery surface. Since the ball is intended to be manipulated by a single hand, it’s official sizes vary depending on age and the gender of the participating teams.

A handball uniform is a jersey or shirt, shorts, socks, and athletic shoes. It is recommended that teams bring two sets of uniforms, one set of a light-colored jersey and one set of a dark colored jersey. Players are allowed to wear padding but court players have less than the goalie. Courts players are allowed to wear padding for knees and elbows but goalies may wear shin guards, face mask, and gloves. A player’s number is only allowed to be a number in between 1-20 and the number must contrast with the shirt.

If you’re not tall enough for basketball, strong enough for football, fit enough for soccer, or coordinated enough for baseball, handball might be the sport for you. Kids, if you want to play this amazing sport talk to your parents or gym teacher to play today.

Student Bio

Shayla M.

2018 Summer Program

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