Team Handball, court or field game that has features in common with basketball and soccer. The game is usually played as an indoor court game by two teams of 7 players each, although it was sometimes played as a field game in its early development by two teams of 11 players each. This article describes the more popular indoor version. Team handball is not to be confused with handball, an indoor court game in which players alternate in hitting a small rubber ball against a wall with their hands.
EQUIPMENT AND PLAY
A team handball ball is an inflated sphere covered with leather. For the men's game it has a circumference of 58 to 60 cm (22.8 to 23.6 in) and weighs 425 to 480 g (15.0 to 16.9 oz). For the women's game it has a circumference of 54 to 56 cm (21.3 to 22.0 in) and weighs 325 to 400 g (11.5 to 14.1 oz). The court is 20 m (21.87 yd) wide and 40 m (43.74 yd) long.
A team handball match lasts one hour, divided into 30-minute halves, with a halftime intermission of 10 minutes. Each team is allowed one time-out of one minute per half. There are two referees, one in each half of the court. Each team has seven players on the court, six who play both offense and defense, and one goalkeeper, respectively. A match begins with a throw-off (a free pass from one teammate to another) from the center, and play proceeds as the players throw, pass, and dribble the ball. Players may stop, throw, catch, bounce, or strike the ball with their hands, arms, head, body, thighs, or knees. The object of the game is to score by throwing the ball past the defense and goalkeeper into the opposing goal. Each score counts for one point. The goalkeeper is also allowed to use his or her feet, but only to stop the ball from entering the goal, not to kick the ball. The goalkeeper is also the only player who is allowed to play within the goal area, a roughly semicircular area about 15 m (16.40 yd) wide along the baseline and extending to a flattened arc 6 m (6.56 yd) from the goal.
Players may hold the ball for a maximum of three seconds and may take a maximum of three steps while holding it. These restrictions do not apply to the goalkeeper in his or her goal area. However, when the goalkeeper leaves the goal area, movement and dribbling rules apply as they would to any court player. The ball can be passed in any direction and also rolled along the ground. A player may fist the ball (strike the ball with a closed fist) but may not throw it in the air and then fist it. Team handball is a fluid and fast game, with the ball moving from one end of the court or field to the other with great speed. Most of the action is concentrated around the goal areas.
The governing body of the sport is the International Handball Federation, founded in 1946 and located in Basel, Switzerland. Worldwide, there are now more than 130 member federations. The governing body in the United States is the United States Team Handball Federation, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Team handball originated in the 1890s when a German gymnastics instructor, Konrad Koch, developed the structure and rules of the game. After World War II (1939-1945) team handball became a popular recreation activity in many academic institutions in Western Europe. The first international match was played in 1925 in Halle, Germany, between teams from Austria and Germany. The game was introduced at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin as the 11-player outdoor game. When it was reintroduced at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany, it was as the 7-player indoor game. Team handball world championships were first held in 1938 for men and in 1949 for women. In both men's and women's competition, teams from Germany, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, Sweden, and France traditionally have had the most success, although South Korea won the women's gold medal at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.