Team handball

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Image:Handball Bosnia Greece.jpeg
Handball player leaps towards the goal prior to throwing the ball, while the goalkeeper extends himself trying to stop it. This was the Bosnian handball team playing in Visoko against Greece in the qualification for European championship.

Handball (also known as team handball, field handball, European handball, or Olympic handball) is a team sport where two teams of seven players each (six players and a goalkeeper) pass and bounce a ball trying to throw it in the goal of the opposing team.

The game is similar to football (soccer), though, as the name implies, the basic method of handling the ball involves the player's hands rather than their feet. It has been played internationally since the first half of the 20th century.

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[edit] Field and ball

Handball is played on a court forty meters long by twenty meters (40mx20m) wide, with a dividing line in the middle and a goal in the center of either end. The goals are surrounded by a near-semicircular line that is generally six meters (6m) away from the goal. There is also a dashed near-semicircular line that is nine meters (9m) away from the goal.

Only the defending goalkeeper is allowed to step inside the six meter (6m) perimeter, though any player may attempt to catch and touch the ball in the air within it. If a player should find himself in contact inside the goal perimeter he must immediately take the most direct path out of it. Should a defender make contact with an attacker while in the goal perimeter, their team is penalized with a direct attempt at the goal, with only one attacker on the seven-meter line and the defending goalkeeper involved.

The ball is smaller than a football in order for the players to be able to hold and handle it with a single hand (though contact with both hands is perfectly allowed). Some American versions use a volleyball. It is transported by bouncing it between hands and floor — much as in basketball. A player may only hold the ball for three seconds and may only take three steps with the ball in hand. There are many rule variations; a common American version allows only a single step with the ball, after which the player must pass the ball to another teammate or shoot.

[edit] Game play

A standard match duration consists of two periods of 30 minutes each during which each team may call one time-out. Normal league games are usually allowed to end in a draw, but in knockout tournaments, such as the final stages of the Olympics, two extension periods of 10 minutes are played. If each of these ends in a tie after the extra time the winner is determined by an individual shootout from the 7-meter line.

The game is quite fast and includes body and contact as the defenders try to stop the attackers from approaching the goal. Only frontal contact by the defenders is allowed; when a defender stops an attacker with his or her arms instead of his or her torso, the play is stopped and restarted from the spot of the infraction or on the nine meter line, with the attacking team in possession.

Penalties are given to players, in progressive format, if the contact between the players is particularly rough (even if it is indeed frontal). The referees may award a nine-meter free throw to the attacking team, or if the infraction was during a clear scoring opportunity, a seven-meter penalty shot is given. In more extreme cases they give the defender a yellow card (warning), a 2-minute penalty, or a red card (permanent expulsion). For rough fouls they can also order two-minute expulsions and a red card expulsion without having to warn the player first.

Ball movement and possession is similar to basketball. If the attacker commits an infraction, such as charging, the possession of the ball can be awarded to the defending team. Players may also cause the possession to be lost if they make more than three steps without dribbling or after stopping their dribble. However unlike basketball, the player may take three steps instead of two (pivoting on one foot is considered a step) and the ball must be "patted" down instead of the more controlled basketball method.

The usual formations of the defense are the so-called 6-0, when all the defense players are within the 6 meter and 9 meter lines; the 5-1, when one of the players cruises outside the 9 meter perimeter, usually targeting the center forwards; and the least common 4-2 when there are two such defenders. The usual attacking formation includes two wingmen, a center-left and a center-right which usually excel at high jumps and shooting over the defenders, and two centers, one of which tends to intermingle with the defense (also known as the pivot or line player, somewhat similar to the hole set (2-meter) in water polo), disrupting the defense formation, and the other being the playmaker (similar to basketball).

Goals are much more common in handball than in most other sports; usually, both teams score at least 20 goals, and it is not uncommon to have a match end (say) 33-31. This was not true in the earliest days, when the scores were more akin to that of ice hockey, but as offensive play (in particular in terms of counterattacks after a failed attack from the other team) has improved, more and more goals have been scored each match.

[edit] History

Team handball has origins reaching as far as the antiquity: urania in ancient Greece, harpaston in ancient Rome, fangballspiel in medieval Germany, etc. There are also records of handball-like games in medieval France, and among the Inuit on Greenland, in the Middle Ages. By the 19th century, there existed similar games of haandbold from Denmark, hazena in Bohemia and Slovakia, gandbol in Ukraine, torball in Germany, as well as versions in Ireland and Uruguay.

The team handball game as we know it today was formed by the end of the 19th century in northern Europe, primarily Denmark, Germany and Sweden. The Dane Holger Nielsen drew up rules for a handball game (håndbold) in 1898 (and published them in 1906), and R.N. Ernst did something similar in 1897.

The first set of team handball rules was published on October 29, 1917 by Max Heiser, Karl Schelenz and Erich Konigh from Germany. After 1919 these rules were further improved by Karl Schelenz. The first international games were played under these rules, between Germany and Belgium for men in 1925 and Germany and Austria for women in 1930.

In 1926, the Congress of the International Amateur Athletics Federation nominated a committee to draw up international rules for field handball. The International Amateur Handball Federation was formed in 1928. The International Handball Federation was formed later in 1946

Men's field handball was played at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin at the special request of Adolf Hitler[citation needed]. It was removed from the list of sports, to return as team handball in 1972 for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Women's team handball was added as an Olympic discipline in 1976, at the 1976 Summer Olympics.

The International Handball Federation has organized Men's World Championships in 1938, and then every two, three or sometimes four years since the World War II. The Women's World Championships have been played since 1957. The IHF also organizes Women's and Men's Junior World Championships.

The IHF reports to have 160 member federations representing approximately 800,000 teams and more than nearly 19 million sportsmen and women.

[edit] International tournaments

[edit] External links

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Team handball

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