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This is the "Team Handball" page of the "Westwood Physical Education" guide.
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Guide to IB Physical Education Class
Last Updated: Aug 28, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Team Handball Print Page

Team Handball Vocabulary




Olympic Games



Team handball began in the 1890s when a German gymnastics instructor, Konrad Koch, developed the structure and rules of the game. The sport began spreading more rapidly in Europe by the 1920s, with the first international match played in 1925 in Halle, Germany, between teams from Austria and Germany. The field version of the game was introduced as an Olympic sport at the 1936 Games in Berlin (see Olympic Games). After World War II it became a popular recreational activity at many academic institutions in Western Europe, but wasn't reintroduced to the Olympics until the 1972 Games in Munich, where the court version was played. Women's Olympic competition began at the Games in Montreal in 1976.

The sport is governed by the International Handball Federation which consists of 136 member nations and 12 million registered players.

Team Handball." Encyclopedia. Today’s Science. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 9 June 2011. <>.



A team handball game is divided into two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute intermission. There are two referees, one in each half of the court, and each team is allowed a one-minute time-out in each half. There are seven players to a side--six who play both offense and defense, and one goalkeeper. Play begins with a throw-off, a free pass from one teammate to another at the center of the court. The object of the game is for a team to score by throwing the ball past the opposing goalkeeper into the goal. Players may advance the ball by throwing, passing, and dribbling; they may also stop, throw, catch, bounce, or strike the ball with their hands, arms, head, body, thighs, or knees.

Players can hold the ball for a maximum of three seconds and may take a maximum of three steps while holding it. There is unlimited dribbling allowed with three steps permissible both before and after dribbling. Like basketball, double dribbling (dribbling, stopping, then dribbling again) is not allowed. The ball can be passed in any direction and rolled along the ground. Players may strike the ball with a closed fist, but cannot throw it in the air and then fist it.

Defensive players cannot endanger an opponent with the ball, nor can they pull, hit, or punch the ball out of the hands of an opponent. Contact with the ball below the knee is also not allowed, and players cannot dive on the floor for a rolling or stationary ball. However, players can use their torsos to obstruct an opponent with or without the ball; using outstretched arms or legs for the same purpose is also not allowed. Attacking players may not charge into a defensive player, and balls that go out of bounds are thrown in from the sideline or corner of the endline. A throw-in is awarded when the ball goes out of bounds on the sideline or when the ball is last touched by a defensive player (excluding the goalie) and goes over the endline. For a minor foul or violation, a free throw is awarded to the opponent at the exact spot the foul or violation occurred. The thrower must keep one foot in contact with the floor when passing or shooting.

The referee will give only one warning to a player for rule violations and a total of three to a team. Exceeding these limits results in a 2-minute suspension during which the penalized team must play shorthanded. Three 2-minute suspensions result in a disqualification. A disqualified player must leave the court and bench, but can be replaced after the 2-minute suspension expires.

Team handball is a fast and smooth game, with the ball moving quickly from one end of the court to the other. Most of the action is usually concentrated around the goal areas.

"Team Handball." Encyclopedia. Today’s Science. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 9 June 2011. <>.


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