How does it work?
Modern handball is usually played indoors, although certain variations can take place in an outdoor environment. A team activity, the game consists of two sides, each made up of six field players and a goalkeeper. The aim of the game is to pass the ball towards the opponent’s end of the court, where a goal can then be scored. The team with the most goals scored at the end of the match wins – no surprises there, then.
Unlike during a game of football, goals are scored frequently during a handball match – with the winning side often scoring more than 30. However, before they can score, players must first move the ball across the pitch – this is done by dribbling (in a fashion similar to basketball dribbling) by passing, or by directly shooting. The ball can only be held for three seconds by each player before it must be passed or dribbled, so quick reflexes are a must if you want to stay on the court.
Is it for me?
There are all sorts of rules that govern handball, so you’ll have to be fairly patient at first in order to pick them up. Both men and women can play the game, and in theory it’s open to everyone – although you’ll need to have a good level of fitness if you’re going to keep up.
Like most other team sports, handball requires a lot of movement, and at times even contact (known to players as a ‘player sandwich’. For this reason, it’s probably worth considering something a bit gentler if you’re ill, injured, pregnant, or simply don’t like the idea of being compared to a BLT.
Good to know
Handball is an Olympic sport – it was first played at the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin. During a match of handball, the leather ball is often coated with resin to make it easier to propel – however, some indoor arenas prohibit this practice due to the mess left on the floor.