OBJECTIVE OF HANDBALL: Throw more balls into the opposing team’s goal than the other team.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 14 players, 7 on each team

MATERIALS: Ball, 2 goals




Handball is a fast-paced team sport that lovers of basketball and netball would enjoy. It’s a growing game that more and more people are starting to hear about and play, but handball has been an established sport in the Olympics since 1928.



The handball court is 20 by 40 meters (roughly 66 by 131 feet). A center line runs through the middle of the court to mark the right and left sides. The goal line is a 6-meter line on each end of the court, where only the goalie is allowed to be. A 7-meter dash just above the goal line marks where penalty shots are taken. And the 9-meter dotted line above that is the free-throw line.


There are seven players on each team.

Center: The center plays both offensive and defensive and is the designated playmaker, like the quarterback of American football. They organize tactics to score goals.

Left and right backs: Usually the largest players, in defense, they block shots, and in offense, they shoot long-range balls.

Center forward: Also called a circle runner, they aim to disrupt the opponent’s defense.

Left and right wingers: Usually the fastest players, they stay on their sides of the court looking for openings.

Goalie: Protects the team’s goal with every part of their body. The only player that can touch the ball with their feet.


Handball is played in two 30-minute periods. The teams can choose which side of the court they want to play in, and they will switch sides for the second half of the game. A coin toss decides which team gets to throw-off first. When the whistle blows, the game starts with the throw-off.


The thrower must touch the center line with their foot and at the whistle, they throw the ball to another teammate. The throw-off team must be on their side of the court.

The second half of the game also starts with a throw-off. Throw-offs also occur after each goal. In this case, the opposing team gets to throw-off.

Below the Knee Rule

Handball, like the name suggests, is mostly played with the hands. Players can touch the ball with pretty much every part of their body, but not below the knee.

Handling the Ball

In handball, the ball should be passed from teammate to teammate with the objective of scoring a goal on the opposing team’s side of the court. There are a few rules to keep in mind when handling the ball:

  • The player can only stand still for 3 seconds before they must dribble, pass, or shoot the ball.
  • The player cannot hold the ball for more than 3 steps before they must dribble, pass, or shoot the ball.
  • The player cannot “double dribble” where they dribble, hold the ball, and then dribble again.
  • Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with their feet.

Goal Area

The goal area is out-of-bounds for all players but the goalkeeper. But other players may be inside the goal area if they throw the ball into the goal while in the air before landing in the goal area.

When the goalkeeper exits the goal area, they must adhere to the same rules as the other players. The goalkeeper cannot come out of the goal area with the ball in their hand. If they do, a penalty shot (7-meter throw) is awarded to the opposing team.


To score, the players must shoot the ball to the goal post past the back goal line from outside the goal area. After a goal is scored, the non-scoring team must return to their side of the court for the throw-off.


Violations of the handball rules can result in a free throw, penalty throw, or a yellow card.

Free Throw

During a free throw, all defenders must stand at least 3 meters away from the person awarded the free throw. The free throw occurs in the exact spot the foul occurred. In the case the foul occurs between the goal area and the 9-meter free-throw line, the free throw happens at the closest point of the 9-meter line.

Holding, pushing, tripping, or hurting another player could lead to a free throw being awarded to the opposing team.

Penalty Throw

The penalty throw occurs 7 meters from the goal line. This throw is awarded if:

  • A defender illegally interferes what may have been a goal.
  • A defender touches the ball when in the goal crease.
  • The goalie carries the ball back to the goal area.

Yellow Card

Excessive violence or unsportsmanlike behavior could lead to a yellow card. A second infringement for the same player will result in a 2-minute suspension. A third infraction could lead to a red card and disqualification.

Out of Bounds

If the ball goes out of bounds on the sidelines at any point during the game, possession is awarded to the team that didn’t have possession of the ball. The opposing team gets to throw in the ball from the sidelines.

If the ball goes out of bounds behind the goal line, the goalie throws the ball from their goal area.


A game of handball ends after finishing the two 30-minute halves. The team with more goals by the end of the game wins! If the scores are tied, a maximum of two 5-minute overtime periods are played. And if the scores are still tied after the extra 10 minutes, penalty throws will be given two 5 members of each team to determine the winner.