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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Handball

Handball (also known as team handball, European handball, or Olympic handball) is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each (six players and a goalkeeper) pass and bounce a ball to throw it into the goal of the opposing team. The team with the most goals after two periods of 30 minutes wins.

Modern handball is usually played indoors, but outdoors variants exist in the form of field handball (which was more common in the past) and beach handball. American handball is a completely different sport.

Goals are scored quite frequently in handball; usually both teams score at least 20 goals each, and it is not uncommon to have a match end 33-31. This was not true in the earliest history of the game, when the scores were more akin to that of ice hockey. But, as offensive play has improved, particularly the use of counterattacks (fast breaks) after a failed attack from the other team, goal scoring has increased

The game is quite fast and includes body contact as the defenders try to stop the attackers from approaching the goal. Contact is only allowed when the defensive player is completely in front of the offensive player, i.e. between the offensive player and the goal, this is referred to as a player sandwich. Any contact from the side or especially from behind is considered dangerous and is usually met with penalties. When a defender successfully stops an attacking player, the play is stopped and restarted by the attacking team from the spot of the infraction or on the nine meter line. Unlike in basketball where players are allowed to commit only 5 fouls in a game (6 in the NBA), handball players are allowed an unlimited number of "faults," which are considered good defense and disruptive to the attacking team's rhythm.

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