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Handball. Handball is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each (six outfield players and a goalkeeper) pass a ball to throw it into the goal of the other team. The team with the most goals after two periods of 30 minutes wins.

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Handball is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each (six outfield players and a goalkeeper) pass a ball to throw it into the goal of the other team. The team with the most goals after two periods of 30 minutes wins.

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

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 defence and disruptive to the attacking team's rhythm.

Goals are scored quite frequently; usually both teams score at least 20 goals each, and it is not uncommon for both teams to score more than 30 goals. 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 since the late 1980s, particularly the use of counterattacks (fast breaks) after a failed attack from the other team, goal scoring has increased.



Thehandballplayingfieldissimilar to anindoorfootballfield. Twoteamsofsevenplayers (sixfieldplayers plus onegoalkeeper) takethefield and attempt to scorepoints by puttingthe game ballintotheopposingteam'sgoal. In handlingtheball, players are subject to thefollowingrestrictions:

Afterreceivingtheball, playerscanonly hold theballforthreesecondsbeforepassing, dribbling (similar to a basketballdribble), or shooting.

Afterreceivingtheball, playerscantakeup to threestepswithoutdribbling. Ifplayersdribble, theymaytakeanadditionalthreesteps.

Playersthat stop dribblinghavethreeseconds to pass or shoot. Theymaytakethreeadditionalstepsduringthistime.

No playersotherthanthedefendinggoalkeeper are allowedwithinthegoalline (within 6 metersofthegoal). Goalkeepers are allowedoutsidethisline.

[edit] Playingfield

Schematic diagram of a handballplayingfield (Germancaptions).

Handballisplayed on a court 40 by 20 metres (130 × 66 ft), with a goal in the center ofeach end. Thegoals are surrounded by a near-semicirculararea, calledthezone or thecrease, defined by a linesixmetersfromthegoal. A dashednear-semicircularlineninemetersfromthegoalmarksthefree-throwline. Eachline on thecourtis part oftheareaitencompasses. Thisimpliesthatthemiddlelinebelongs to bothhalvesatthesametime.

[edit] Goals

Eachgoal has a rectangularclearanceareaofthreemeters in thewidth and twometers in theheight. Itmustbesecurelyboltedeither to thefloor or thewallbehind.

Thegoalposts and thecrossbarmustbemadeoutofthesamematerial (e.g. wood or aluminium) and feature a quadraticcrosssectionwithasideof 8 cm (3 in). Thethreesidesofthebeamsvisiblefromtheplayingfieldmustbepaintedalternatingly in twocontrastingcolorswhichbothhave to contrastagainstthebackground. Thecolors on bothgoalsmustbethesame.



Thegoals are surrounded by thecrease. Thisareaisdelimited by twoquartercircleswith a radiusofsixmetersaroundthefarcornersofeachgoal post and a connectinglineparallel to thegoalline. Onlythedefendinggoalkeeperisallowedinsidethisperimeter. However, thecourtplayersmaycatch and touchtheball in theairwithinitaslongastheplayerstartshisjumpoutsidethezone and releasestheballbeforehelands.

If a playercontactsthegroundinsidethegoalperimeterhemusttakethe most directpathoutofit. However, should a playercrossthezone in anattempt to gainanadvantage (e.g. betterposition) his team cedestheball. Similarly, violationofthezone by a defendingplayerisonlypenalizedifhedoes so to gainanadvantage in defending.


Outsideofonelongedgeoftheplayingfield to bothsidesofthemiddleline are thesubstitutionareasforeach team. Theareasusuallycontainthebenchesasseatingopportunities. Team officials, substitutes and suspendedplayersmustwaitwithinthisarea. Theareaalways lies to thesamesideastheteam'sowngoal. Duringhalf-timesubstitutionareas are swapped. Anyplayerentering or leavingtheplaymustcrossthesubstitutionlinewhichis part ofthesideline and extends 4.5 metersfromthemiddleline to theteam'sside.

A standardmatchforallteamsof 16 and older has twoperiodsof 30 minuteswith a 10 minutehalf-time. Teamsmayswitchsidesofthefield, aswellasbenches. Foryouthsthe game durationis:

2 x 25 minutesatages 12 to 16.

2 x 20 minutesatages 8 to 12.

However, nationalfederationsofsomecountriesmaydiffer in theirimplementationfromtheofficialguidelines.

If a decisionmustbereached in a particularmatch (e.g. in a tournament) and itends in a drawafterregulartime, there are at maximum twoovertimesof 2 x 5 minuteswith a 1 minute break each. Shouldthesenotdecidethe game either, thewinning team isdetermined in a penalty shootout.

Therefereesmaycalltimeoutaccording to theirsolediscretion, typicalreasons are injuries, suspensions or courtcleaning. Penalty throwsshouldonlytrigger a timeoutforlengthydelaysasachangeofthegoalkeeper.

Each team maycalloneteamtimeout (TTO) per periodwhichlastsoneminute. Thisrightmayonlybeinvoked by team in ballpossession. To do so, therepresentativeofthe team lays a greencardmarked by black "T" on thedeskofthetimekeeper. Thetimekeeperthenimmediatelyinterruptsthe game by soundinganacousticsignal and stopsthetime.



A Handballmatchisled by twoequalreferees. Somenationalbodiesallowgameswithonly a single referee in specialcaseslikeillness on shortnotice. Shouldtherefereesdisagree on anyoccasion, a decisionismade on mutualagreementduring a shorttimeout, or, in caseofpunishments, the more severe ofthetwocomesintoeffect. Thereferees are obliged to maketheirdecisions "on thebasisoftheirobservationsoffacts".[2]Theirjudgements are final and canonlybeappealedagainstifnot in compliancewiththerules.

Thereferees (blueshirts) keepbothteamsbetweenthem.

Therefereespositionthemselves in such a waythatthe team players are confinedbetweenthem. Theystanddiagonallyaligned so thateachcanobserveonesideline. Depending on theirpositionsoneiscalledfieldreferee and theothergoalreferee. Thesepositionsautomaticallyswitch on ballturnover. Theyphysicallyexchangetheirpositionsapproximatelyevery 10 minutes (longexchange) and changesidesevery 5 minutes (shortexchange).

The IHF defines 18 handsignalsforquickvisualcommunicationwithplayers and officials. Thesignalforwarning or disqualificationisaccompanied by a yellow or redcard,[3]respectively. Therefereesalsousewhistleblows to indicateinfractions or restarttheplay.

Thereferees are supported by a scorekeeper and a timekeeperwhoattend to formalthingslikekeepingtrackofgoals and suspensions or starting and stoppingtheclock, respectively. Theyalsohaveaneye on thebenches and notifythereferees on substitutionerrors. Theirdeskislocated in betweenbothsubstitutionsareas.

Team players, substitutes and officials

Each team consistsof 7 players on court and up to 7 substituteplayers on thebench. Oneplayer on thecourtmustbethedesignatedgoalkeeperdiffering in his or herclothingfromthe rest ofthefieldplayers. Substitutionofplayerscanbe done in anynumber and atanytimeduring game play. Anexchangetakesplace over thesubstitutionline. A prior notificationoftherefereesisnotnecessary.

SomenationalbodiesastheDeutscherHandballBund (DHB, "GermanHandballFederation") allowsubstitution in junior teamsonlywhen in ballpossession or duringtimeouts. Thisrestrictionisintended to preventearlyspecializationofplayerstooffense or defense.


Fieldplayers are allowed to touchtheballwithany part oftheirbodiesabovetheknee (kneeincluded). As in severalother team sports, a distinctionismadebetweencatching and dribbling. A playerwhois in possessionoftheballmaystandstationaryforonlythreeseconds and mayonlytakethreesteps. Theymusttheneithershoot, pass or dribbletheball. Atanytimetaking more thanthreestepsisconsideredtravelling and results in a turnover. A playermaydribbleasmanytimesashewants (thoughsincepassingisfasteritisthepreferredmethodofattack) aslongasduringeachdribblehishandcontactsonlythe top oftheball. Thereforebasketball-stylecarryingiscompletelyprohibited, and results in a turnover. Afterthedribbleispicked

up, theplayer has theright to anotherthreeseconds or threesteps. Theballmustthenbepassed or shotasfurther holding or dribblingwillresult in a "doubledribble" turnover and a freethrowfortheother team. Otheroffensiveinfractionsthatresult in a turnoverinclude, charging, settinganillegalscreen, or carryingtheballintothesix meter zone.



Only the goalkeeper is allowed move freely within the goal perimeter, although he may not cross the goal perimeter line while carrying or dribbling the ball. Within the zone, he is allowed to touch the ball with all parts of his body including his feet. The goalkeeper may participate in the normal play of his team mates. As he is then considered as normal field player, he is typically substituted for a regular field player if his team uses this scheme to outnumber the defending players. As this player becomes the designated goalkeeper on the court, he must wear some vest or bib to identify himself as such.

If the goalkeeper deflects the ball over the outer goal line, his team stays in possession of the ball in contrast to other sports like soccer. The goalkeeper resumes the play with a throw from within the zone ("goalkeeper throw"). Passing to your own goalkeeper results in a turnover. Throwing the ball against the head of the goalkeeper when he is not moving is to be punished by disqualification ("red card").

Team officials

Each team is allowed to have a maximum of four team officials seated on the benches. An official is anybody who is neither player nor substitute. One official must be the designated representative who is usually the team manager. The representative may call team timeout once every period and may address scorekeeper, timekeeper and referees. Other officials typically include physicians or managers. Neither official is allowed to enter the playing court without permission of the referees.


The ball is spherical and must either be made of leather or a synthetic material. It is not allowed to have a shiny or slippery surface. As it is intended to be operated by a single hand, the official sizes vary depending on age and gender of the participating teams.

Resin product used to improve ball handling.

Though not officially regulated, the ball is usually resinated. The resin improves the ability of the players to manipulate the ball with a single hand like spinning trick shots. Some indoor arenas prohibit the usage of resin since many products leave sticky stains on the floor.



Therefereesmayaward a specialthrow to a team. Thisusuallyhappensaftercertaineventslikescoredgoals, off-courtballs, turnovers, timeouts, etc. Allofthesespecialthrowsrequirethethrower to obtain a certainposition and poserestrictions on thepositionsofallotherplayers. Sometimestheexecutionmustwaitfor a whistleblow by thereferee.


A throw-offtakesplacefromthe center ofthecourt. Thethrowermusttouchthemiddlelinewithonefoot and alloftheotherplayersmustbe in thehalfoftheir team. Thedefendingplayersmustkeep a distanceofatleastthreemeters to thethrower. A throw-offoccursatthebeginofeachperiod and aftertheopposing team scored a goal. Itmustbecleared by thereferees.

ModernHandballintroducedthe "fastthrow-off" concept, i. e. theplaywillbeimmediatelyrestarted by therefereesassoonastheexecuting team fulfillesitsrequirements. Manyteamsleveragethis rule to scoreeasygoalsbeforetheopposition has time to form a stabledefenseline.


The team whichdidnottouchtheballlastisawarded a throw-inwhentheballfullycrossesthesideline or touchestheceiling. Iftheballcrossestheoutergoalline, a throw-inisonlyawardedifthedefendingfieldplayerstouchedtheballslast. Executionrequiresthethrower to placeonefoot on thenearestouterline to thecause. Alldefendingplayersmustkeep a distanceofthreemeters. However, they are allowed to standimmediatelyoutsidetheirowngoalareaevenwhenthedistanceisless.


Ifballcrossestheoutergoallinewithoutinterferencefromthedefending team or whendeflected by theirgoalkeeper, a goalkeeper-throwisawarded to thedefending team. Thisisthe most commonturnover. Thegoalkeeperresumestheplaywith a throwfromanywherewithinhisgoalarea.


A free-throwrestartstheplayafteraninterruption by thereferees. Ittakesplacesfromthe spot wheretheinterruptionwascausedaslongasthisspotisoutsideofthefree-throwlineoftheopposing team. In thelattercasethethrowisdeferred to thenearest spot on thefree-throwline. Free-throws are theequivalent to free-kicks in associationfootball. Thethrowermaytake a directattemptforagoalwhichis, however, notfeasibleifthedefending team organized a defense.

7-meter throw

A 7-meter throwisawardedwhen a clearchanceofscoringisillegallydestroyedanywhere on thecourt by a opposing team player, official or spectator. Itisalsoawardedwhentherefereesinterrupted a legitimatescoringchanceforanyreason. Thethrowerstepswithonefootbehindthe 7-meter linewithonlythedefendinggoalkeeperbetweenhim and thegoal. Thegoalkeepermustkeep a distanceofthreemeterswhichismarked by a shorttick on thefloor. Allotherplayersmustremainbehindthefree-throwlineuntilexecution. Thethrowermustawaitthewhistleblowofthereferee. A 7-meter throwistheequivalent to a penalty kick in associationfootball, itis, however, far more common and typicallyoccursseveraltimes in a single game



Yellowcardshown in a handballmatch.

Penalties are given to players, in progressiveformat, forfoulsthatrequire more punishmentthan just a free-throw. "Actions" directedmainlyattheopponent and nottheball (suchasreachingaround, holding, pushing, hitting, tripping, or jumpingintoopponent) aswellascontactfromtheside or frombehind a player are allconsideredillegal and subject to penalty. Anyinfractionthatprevents a clearscoringopportunity, willresult in a seven-meter penalty shot.

Typicallytherefereewillgive a warningyellowcardforanillegalaction, butifthecontactwasparticularlydangeroustherefereecanforegothewarningforanimmediatetwo-minutesuspension. A playercanonly get onewarningbeforereceiving a twominutesuspension. Oneplayerisonlypermittedtwo 2-minute suspensions; thirdtimehe/shewillbeshowntheredcard.

A redcardresults in anejectionfromthe game and a twominute penalty forthe team. A playermayreceivearedcarddirectlyforparticularlyroughpenalties. Forinstanceanycontactfrombehindduring a fast break isnowbeingtreatedwith a redcard. A redcardedplayer has to leavetheplayingareacompletely. A playerwhoisdisqualifiedmaybesubstitutedwithanotherplayerafterthetwominute penalty isserved. A Coach/Officialcanalsobepenalizedprogressively. Any coach/officialwhoreceives a 2-minute suspensionwillhave to pulloutoneofhisplayersfortwominutes - note: theplayerisnottheonepunished and canbesubstituted in again, becausethemain penalty isthe team playingwith a man lessthantheother.

Afterhavinglosttheballduringanattack, theball has to belaiddownquickly or elsetheplayernotfollowingthis rule will face a 2-minute suspension. Alsogesticulating or verballyquestioningthereferee'sorder, aswellasarguingwiththeofficialsdecisions, willnormallyresult in a 2-minute suspension. Ifitis done in a veryprovocativeway, a playercanbegivenasecond 2-minute suspensionifhe/shedoesnotwalkstraightoffthefield to thebenchafterbeinggiven a suspension, or iftherefereedeemsthe tempo deliberatelyslow. Illegalsubstitution, anysubstitutionthatdoesnottakeplace in thespecifiedsubstitutionarea or wheretheenteringplayerentersbeforetheexitingplayerexitsisalsopunishablewith a 2 minutesuspension.



  • Positions of attacking (red) and defending players (blue), in a 5-1 defense formation. (German captions)

  • Players are typically referred to by the position they are playing. The positions are always denoted from the view of the respective goalkeeper, so that a defender on the right opposes an attacker on the left. However, not all of the following positions may be occupied depending on the formation or potential suspensions.

  • Offense

  • Left and right wingman. These typically excel at ball control and wide jumps from the outside of the goal perimeter to get into a better shooting angle at the goal. Teams usually try to occupy the left position with a right-handed player and vice versa.

  • Left and right backcourt. Goal attempts by these players are typically made by jumping high and shooting over the defenders. Thus, it is usually advantageous to have tall players for these positions.

  • Center backcourt. A player with experience is preferred on this position who acts as playmaker and the handball equivalent of a basketball point guard.

  • Pivot (left and right, if applicable). This player tends to intermingle with the defense, setting picks and attempting to disrupt the defense formation. This positions requires the least jumping skills but ball control and physical strength are an advantage.

  • Defense

  • Far left and far right. The opponents of the wingmen.

  • Half left and half right. The opponents of the left and right backcourts.

  • Back center (left and right). Opponent of the pivot.

  • Front center. Opponent of the center backcourt, may also be set against another specific backcourt player.

Women's Handball - a jump shot completes a fastbreak

Man's Handball - a jump shot (Kiril Lazrov world record-holder for the number of goals scored in one World Championship) .



Firstwaveattacks are characterized by theabsenceofdefendingplayersaroundtheirgoalperimeter. Thechanceofsuccessisveryhighthethrowingplayerisunhindered in hisscoringattempt. Suchattackstypicallyoccurafteraninterceptedpass or a steal and ifthedefending team canswitchfast to offense. Thefarleft/farrightwillusuallytry to runtheattackasthey are notastightlybound in thedefense. On a turnover, theyimmediatelysprintforward and receivetheballhalfway to theothergoal. Thus, thesepositions are commonlyheld by quickplayers.


Ifthefirstwaveisnotsuccessful and somedefendingplayersgainedtheirpositionsaroundthezone, thesecondwavecomesintoplay: Theremainingplayersadvancewithquickpasses to locallyoutnumbertheretreatingdefenders. Ifoneplayermanages to step up to theperimeter or catchestheballatthis spot hebecomesunstoppable by legaldefensivemeans. Fromthispositionthechanceofsuccessisnaturallyveryhigh. Secondwaveattacksbecamemuch more importantwiththe "fastthrow-off" rule.

The timeduringwhichthesecondwavemaybesuccessfulisveryshort, asthenthedefendersclosedthegapsaroundthezone. In thethirdwave, theattackersusestandardizedattackpatternsusuallyinvolvingcrossing and passingbetweenthebackcourtplayerswhoeithertry to passtheballthrough a gap to their pivot, take a jumpingshotfromthebackcourtatthegoal, or lurethedefenseawayfrom a wingman.

Thethirdwaveevolvesintothenormaloffensiveplaywhenalldefendersreachnotonlythezonebutgaintheiraccustomedpositions. Someteamsthensubstitutespecializedoffenseplayers. However, thisimpliesthattheseplayersmustplay in thedefenseshouldtheopposing team beable to switchquicklytooffense. Thelatterisanotherbenefitforfastplayingteams.

Iftheattacking team doesnotmakesufficientprogress (eventuallyreleasing a shot on goal), therefereescancallpassiveplay (sinceabout 1995, therefereegives a passivewarningsometimebeforetheactualcall by holding onehandup in theair, signalingthattheattacking team shouldrelease a shotsoon), turningcontrol over to theother team. A shot on goal or aninfringementleading to a yellowcard or twominute penalty willmarkthestartof a new attack, causingthehand to betakendown, but a shotblocked by thedefense or a normalfreethrowwillnot. Ifitwerenotforthis rule, itwouldbeeasyforanattacking team to stallthe game indefinitely, asitisdifficult to intercept a passwithoutatthesametimeconcedingdangerousopeningstowardsthegoal.


Theusualformationsofthedefense are 6-0, whenallthedefenseplayerslineupbetweenthe 6 meter and 9 meter lines to form a wall; the 5-1, whenoneoftheplayerscruisesoutsidethe 9 meter perimeter, usuallytargetingthe center forwardswhiletheother 5 lineup on thesix meter line; and thelessercommon 4-2 whenthere are twosuchdefendersout front. Veryfastteamswillalsotry a 3-3 formationwhichisclose to a switchingman-to-manstyle. Theformations vary greatlyfrom country to country and reflecteachcountry'sstyleofplay. 6-0 issometimesknownas "flatdefense", and allotherformations are usuallycalled "offensivedefense.


Handball teams are usually organized as clubs. On a national level, the clubs are associated in federations which organize matches in leagues and tournaments.


Theadministrative and controlling body forinternationalHandballistheInternationalHandballFederation (IHF). Thefederationorganizesworldchampionships, separateformen and women, held in unevenyears.[4]Thefinalroundishosted in oneofitsmemberstates. Currenttitleholders are France (men)[5] and Russia (women).[6]

The IHF iscomposedoffivecontinentalfederationswhichorganizecontinentalchampionshipsheldeveryothersecondyear. In addition to thesecompetitionsbetweennationalteams, thefederationsarrangeinternationaltournamentsbetweenclubteams.[7]Thefederations and theircorrespondingtournamentsandmembers are summarized in thefollowing table:



Make : Nikola Lukačková