Handball Sport Icon

A team sport in which two teams of seven players pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team. It came to prominence in Scandinavia and Germany in the late-19th century before expanding across Europe.

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The Basics

  • Each team consists of six outfield players and a goalkeeper. Each goal is worth one point and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. When in possession, a player can pass, shoot or dribble the ball – similar to in basketball.
  • A player is permitted to take up to three steps for up to three seconds at a time without dribbling the ball. Further key rules include no player being allowed in the goalkeeper’s area and not being able to pass back to the goalkeeper whilst he remains in his area.
  • Handball also has its own version of penalties. When a clear chance of scoring is illegally prevented anywhere on the court by an opposing team player, the result is a seven-meter throw for the attacking team, one-against-one with the goalkeeper.


  • Handball was first introduced at the Olympics in 1936, although it did not appear again until 1972. It has been an ever-present since then, with a women’s competition introduced four years later. Goalball is considered by many to be the Paralympic equivalent of handball.
  • Results have been mixed. France is one of four countries to have won the men’s competition on two separate occasions, although they lead the medal table by virtue of having four medals in total. Denmark has won the women’s competition three times.
  • Team GB last competed in the Olympic handball event in London in 2012. Both the men’s and women’s team lost all five of their group matches and went out of the competition at the first stage.

Famous Competitors

  • Linnea Torstenson – the Swede is one of the most successful and well-known handball players in the world. She was recognised as the best defensive player in the sport in 2014, while she has twice been her country’s player of the year. She helped her club side, CSM Bucharest, win the women’s Champions League title in 2016 before coming third the following year.
  • Anders Eggers – this Danish player has won four international medals, including two World Championship silver medals in 2011 and 2013, as well as gold at the European Championships in 2012. He’s won a wide variety of club honours including the Champions League, German Cup and Danish Championship, whilst he was also top scorer at the World Championships in 2013.

National Governing Body

England Handball – please click here for more information.


  • Intra-School Primary: Competition Card
  • Intra-School Primary: Challenge Card
  • Intra-School Secondary 
  • Local Inter-School

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