What Is Handball?

The exciting sport of handball is enjoyed by nearly 180 nations and 19 million individuals of all ages. 

It is one of the most thrilling Olympic sports due to its combination of speed, strength, stamina, agility, technical accuracy, skill, and collaboration.

The point of the game is to score a goal by launching the ball into the opposing team’s net. 

Defenders are tasked to use their bodies to physically disrupt attackers and prevent them from getting a clean shot on goal.

A Brief History of Handball 

It has been theorized that the ancient Greeks engaged in a sport strikingly similar to contemporary team handball. 

However, the origins of handball were established in late nineteenth-century Scandinavia and Germany.

In 1910, the sport was formally introduced and given its name.

In 1936, the Olympic Games featured “field handball,” an 11-person outdoor variant of modern handball. 

The 11-man version was abandoned shortly thereafter, and the 7-man variant made its Olympic debut in 1972.

Related Reading: History Of Paintball – Learn More Here.


what is handball

Handball requires a goal, a ball, sporting gear, and sneakers. There should be something more that sets apart the two competing teams. 

In competitive play, each team had its own distinctive uniform.

Teams can wear either bibs or colored shirts in recreational play.

Playing Surface

Naturally, a hard court is required for the sport of handball.

Each end of the rectangular court is home to a goal.  

The playing field measures 40 meters in length and 20 meters in width.

Considering the size of a basketball court (29mx15m), this is a far bigger playing area. 

The court is split in two by the half-court line.

The free-throw line, indicated by a dashed arc nine meters out from the net, is located here. 

When the ball is put back in play behind the arc after a penalty occurs inside this line, the attacking team is the one who committed the infraction. 

The penalty mark is seven meters from the goal and is where penalty throws are taken. 

The six-meter line, or goal area line, is a curved boundary around the goal.

Only the goaltender is allowed within the 6-meter line.


gameplay what is handball

The sport of handball is intense and rapid-fire.

Passing is used to advance the ball from one end of the court to the other. 

Dribbling and footwork are allowed as means of ball movement.

The three-second clock starts when a player catches the ball. 

The player has the option of passing, dribbling, or taking up to three steps.

In order to score, teams employ elaborate passing strategies. 

Inside the goal area, court players are prohibited from playing (6-meter line).

On the other hand, an offensive player can shoot the ball in the air from behind the line and land inside it. 

Each goal is worth one point.

Each half of the game lasts for 30 minutes. A 10-minute break separates each half.

Rules and Regulations 

As a physical sport, handball has the potential for penalties. 

Players are not allowed to intentionally injure another, yank or punch the ball out of an opponent’s grasp, or make contact with the ball below the knees. 

Also, defensive aggression is not permitted.

Contact can be made, but no pushing, holding, or tripping of any kind is allowed.

Players and Positions 

In a game of handball, there are seven players total: six court players and a goalkeeper.

A center, a left back, a right back, a circle runner, a left winger, and a right winger make up the court players. 

Typically, the center rotates between the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

The center, who often serves as the team’s playmaker, is responsible for initiating and developing offensive and defensive plays. 

The primary role of the left and right back is defense.

They attempt to block shots by using their size and strength to their advantage. 

The circle runner not only spearheads the offense but also plays havoc on the defensive end. 

The wing players are responsible for dictating play on the court’s perimeter.

They aim to defend against the opposition’s wingers and attempt to shoot from different angles.


When playing handball, it is the referee’s job to make sure everyone stays within the regulations. 

Checking for excessive roughness, infractions of court boundaries, and compliance with on-ball regulations are all part of this.

The officials might call minor or major fouls.


Coaches in handball coordinate their teams’ lineups, strategies, and tactics. 

The vast majority of head coaches in the professional ranks are themselves, former handball athletes.

The coach can then better relate to the players and see things from their point of view. 

The strategies and methods employed by various coaches vary.

As an example, some could stress the need for a solid defense, while others might urge a more aggressive approach to the game. 

The coach has the duty to explain the team’s playing style to every member. 


Teams may employ a wide variety of formations and methods in an effort to confuse the defenders. 

On defense, teams have several options, including man-to-man and various zone defense schemes. 

There is a wide variety of offensive strategies that teams can employ as well.

They have the option to adopt either a bold or cautious stance. 

They also have a wide variety of formations from which to choose in an effort to create spaces for the offensive.

Related Reading: How To Play Pickleball – Click Here To Find Out.

Alternate Versions of Handball 

The International Handball Federation officially recognized “beach handball” as a distinct sport in 1944.

It’s anticipated that it will make its Olympic debut in 2024.

“Mini handball,” according to the National Association of Youth Sports, retains the benefits and skills education of the adult version of the sport while reducing the contact and aggressive play associated with it.

Danes have been playing a version of handball called “street handball” in public spaces like streets and parks since 1997.

Who Are The Most Decorated Teams of Olympic Handball?

France, the Soviet Union, Croatia, and Yugoslavia have all won two men’s gold medals at this competition. 

The top four medal-winning countries are France (with two gold, one silver, and one bronze), Germany (with one gold, two silvers, and one bronze), Sweden (with four silvers), and Romania (with one silver and three bronze). 

Denmark has won the most women’s gold medals with three, although Norway and the Republic of Korea each have six medals apiece (two gold, two silver, and two bronze).

The Benefits of Handball 

the benefits of handball

Handball is a fun sport that can provide many fitness benefits, like: 

Cardiovascular Fitness 

Playing handball is a great example of cardiovascular exercise because it causes a noticeable increase in heart rate.

Cardiovascular exercise, including high-intensity anaerobic intervals, may be required of you during handball, depending on the team you’re on.

Intense cardiovascular exercise has many positive effects. Among the most notable are:

  • Diminished risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, high cholesterol, and some types of cancer 
  • Weight maintenance 
  • Depression and anxiety relief 
  • Decreased stress
  • Improved quality of sleep 


Playing handball is a great way to enhance your physical fitness.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is a measure of aerobic fitness and is an indicator of cardiovascular health.  

The capability to perform repeated contractions against resistance is a sign of developed muscular endurance.

Muscular endurance helps with the everyday tasks of life.

You’ll notice an enhancement in your strength and stamina; as a result, allowing you to do things like shovel snow, climb stairs, and carry a full shopping bag or suitcase with ease. 

Playing handball will improve your physical and cardiovascular endurance, which will help you in any other sport you participate in.


You need agility if you want to be nimble and able to change course on the fly.

Agility is a need in handball, and you may improve your agility by regularly engaging in the actions of the game, such as shifting directions, jumping, and twisting.

There are several practical benefits to being agile, including a reduced risk of injury and more stability in daily living.


A high level of coordination is one of the most important physical factors associated with healthy aging.

Increases in dynamic and static stability brought about by improved coordination reduce the risk of injury from being knocked down or falling.

Handball, like many other sports, requires a high level of coordination.

Coordination is necessary for and improved through the practice of passing, throwing, and other spatially-aware motions.

Reaction Time 

A key component of effectiveness in handball is a lightning-fast reaction time, whether to the oncoming ball, a teammate’s play, or an opponent’s attempt to score. 

Improvements in this mind-body interaction can be achieved by regular practice and competition in your chosen sport.

Raising your reaction speed means you can better respond to dangers in your immediate vicinity. 

It has been shown that improved reaction time can potentially lower dementia risk and boost brainpower.

Safety Precautions 

Playing handball at a high level demands dedication and expertise.

Injuries can occur even at a recreational level.

If you have any health issues or injuries that could put you in danger, you need to receive medical clearance before participating.

It’s also crucial to have a good warm-up before the game by doing some dynamic exercises to get your body ready.

Use these stretches and drills to be ready for your next game.

Handball is a potentially dangerous activity for pregnant women to engage in.

It’s a fast-paced, intense sport with lots of direction changes and physical contact.

Doing any of these things while pregnant is not a good idea.

Related Reading: What Is Spikeball – Get To Know Here.

Final Thoughts 

Playing handball is a great way to improve your health and fitness, as your ability to work in a team. 

Though it’s not a hugely popular sport, you can play or learn the basics of handball at just about any fitness center or social club. 

This fast-paced game not only helps you get in shape but also gives you a chance to meet new people.