Today’s team handball game was established at the end of the 19th century in Northern Europe — primarily in Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The first written set of team handball rules dates from 1906, formulated by the Danish gym teacher, lieutenant and Olympic medalist Holger Nielsen. On 29 October 1917, Max Heiser, Karl Schelenz and Erich Konigh from Germany published the modern set of rules. The first international games were played between Germany’s and Belgium’s male teams in 1925, and Germany’s and Austria’s women’s teams in 1930. Initially, handball was mainly an outdoor sport played on soccer fields – including at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in front of 100,000 spectators. The faster and more tactical indoor handball version subsequently took over, and handball permanently became an Olympic sport in 1972.
Two teams of seven players each, including a goalkeeper, pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team. A standard match consists of two periods of 30 minutes, and the team that scores the most goals wins.
Handball is played on a court of 40 by 20 meters (131 by 66 ft), with a goal in the middle of each end. A 6-meter (20 ft) zone surrounds the goals that only the defending goalkeeper can enter. The team in the offense tries to score goals by throwing the ball from outside the zone or while jumping into it. The defenders prevent the offense from approaching the goal with body contact. Therefore, handball is considered a contact sport but players do not wear protective equipment that can hurt their opponents.
Handball is a fast and high-scoring game: professional teams now typically score between 20 and 35 goals each, so usually spectators get to see one goal per minute!
Video explaning the Handball rules:
Always worth watching – CAN vs. USA as an example of a professional game:
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