How to Bet: Handball 

Handball is a team sport with seven players per team played on a rectangular hard court. The main object of a team is to score more goals than the other team. Players score by throwing the ball into their opponent's goal. The sport is very popular in several European nations. 

Handball has ancient origins, but the game we know it as today is just over 100 years old. It is a fast and exciting game that is also an Olympic sport. 

Online Handball 

Handball is a sport with many leagues, and many sportsbooks offer lines on the top leagues around the world. It is not as big of a betting sport as the major ones, but there are still quite a few games to bet on and many betting markets. 

The bigger leagues and competitions have more betting markets, and some sportsbooks also offer promotions for the bigger events such as the Olympics and the IHF World Men's Handball Championship. 

Rules and Gameplay

A handball court is 40 by 20 meters. At each end, a goal is surrounded by a semicircle called either the crease or the zone. A handball is 58-60 centimeters in circumference and is slightly smaller for the women's game. The goal is two meters high and three meters wide, and the handball court is separated into two halves. 

The seven players on the court pass the ball around, pushing it forward to try to score on the opponents' goal. When a player has the ball, they can pass it, dribble it, or shoot it. To move the ball, a player has to dribble, and without dribbling, they can take three steps or have the ball for three seconds. 

All players besides the goalkeeper cannot touch inside the semicircle goal area. A shot or a pass is legal inside the goal area landing there, but the player has to jump behind the goal line. The goalie can go outside the goal area but cannot do so with control of the ball, and players cannot pass the ball back to the goalie in the goal area. 

There is a referee on the court, and they award teams a throw for various reasons. The throws that can be awarded are: 

  • Throw-off – Starting play by throwing the ball from the center of the court at the beginning of each period, and after a goal has been scored. Opposing players have to keep a distance of three meters from the player throwing the ball. In modern handball, there is also the fast throw-off where the team that is throwing the ball can start as long as in position, and teams use this to start playing and gain an advantage when the opposing team has not set up their defense. 
  • Throw-in – The team is awarded a throw-in from the sideline when a ball crosses the sideline or touches the ceiling, and they were not the last team to touch the ball. Opponents must stay three meters away from the player throwing the ball in. 
  • Goalkeeper throw – a goalkeeper throw is awarded if the ball crosses the outer goal line or when the goalkeeper deflects the ball out of bounds defending a shot. A goalkeeper throw is also awarded when a team makes a violation in the goal area called the D-zone. A goalkeeper puts the ball in play by throwing the ball while inside the goal area. 
  • Free-throw – A free throw given after the referee stops play. The free throw spot is where the infraction took place as long as it is outside the free-throw line of the opposing team. Players with the free throw can take a shot on goal, but the defense has had time to set up. 
  • Seven-meter-throw – (penalty shot) Awarded to the team on offense when they are fouled during a scoring chance. In a seven-meter-throw, it is just the offensive player shooting the ball from the seven-meter line and the goalie. 

The referee gives penalties to players for fouls that are more excessive and require more than awarding a free throw, such as tripping, holding, or pushing an opponent. Any player that fouls an opponent preventing a clear scoring opportunity, the team fouled will be awarded a seven-meter penalty shot. 

Usually, the referee in the handball game will warn a player before they receive a yellow card. However, if the foul is excessive, they can give a yellow card right away where the player has to serve a two-minute suspension, and the opposing team has a man advantage at that time. 

If a player is given three yellow cards, they get a red card and are ejected, and their team has a two-minute suspension. After the two minutes, the team that served it can substitute another player for the one that was ejected. 

A referee can give a red card straight away for any very excessive foul that can injure an opposing player. Team coaches and officials can also receive a red card where a chosen player has to serve a two-minute suspension. 

When a referee calls a foul on a player with the ball, they have to lay it down right away for the opposing team to start the possession. If the player argues with the referee excessively or does not lay down the ball quickly, they are subject to a yellow card.

Players on the bench can come into the match, substituting other players on the court during gameplay as long as they come in from the designated substitution area. Players coming into the game for a substitution do not have to notify the referee. 

A standard handball match is 30 minutes long with two halves (periods). Teams have three timeouts per game, up to two per half, and last one minute long. In most leagues and competitions, if the game is tied at the end of regulation, there is a maximum of two five-minute overtimes, and if the handball game is still tied, there is a penalty shootout. 

How the Teams Work

The players on the team work together to move the ball forward and score goals. There are attack waves by the offense. Which are: 

  • First Wave – No defending players are in their goal perimeter, and the attackers have a high chance of scoring.
  • Second Wave – Some of the defensive players are in their zone and set, but not all of them. 
  • Third Wave – When all of the defensive players are back where they have closed the gaps around their goal perimeter and are in position. 

Here are the positions of the field players in a handball game: 

  • Wingman (right and left) – The faster and typically smaller players that are solid in ball control. They receive the ball outside of the goal area near the backline and jump to the playing area to get a better shot. 
  • Backcourt (right and left) – these players play around the goal area and jump and go through defenders to score. Usually, the backcourt players are the taller ones. 
  • Center Backcourt – The player at the center of the goal area, the primary playmaker, makes passes for others to score, while also looking to score. 
  • Pivot – The player that sets picks for other players and tries to get in the way of the defensive formation, opening up holes for the shooters. The pivot players are usually the bigger and stronger ones. 

There are also different defensive formations in a handball game, with some defending the goal line and others defending the offensive players of the other team. 

Strategy and Tactics 

There are quite a few strategies and tactics for handball. Some are playing to the team's strength, and others will have to do with changing the tactics in-game depending on how it is unfolding. Here are some basic offensive and defensive strategies for the sport of handball. 

Offensive Strategies 

  • Make quick and accurate passes and beware of long passes and lobs, which are easier for the opponent to intercept. 
  • Always be moving towards the goal even without the ball. This forces the defense to move with you and can open up holes for the attack. 
  • Passing more than dribbling, as it speeds up getting to the opponents' goal and keeps the defense on their heels. 
  • Do not force shots, as if there is not an open shot pass to a teammate. 
  • Make fake moves often to throw the defense off, whether it be a fake shot or pass. 

Defensive Strategies 

  • While defending, always be ready to go on the attack. This goes both ways as to always be prepared to defend with a game that is fast-paced with many turnovers. 
  • Decide whether to play man to man or zone. 
  • Always be in front of the opponent when defending, not giving them a clear view of the goal. 

History of Handball 

Early forms of the sport of handball can be found in Ancient Greece in stone carvings representing players throwing the ball into a goal. There are many older references to this type of game, such as expulsim ludere in Ancient Rome. 

Other forms of the game were played in France and Greenland, by the Inuit, in the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, there were also games similar to handball in Denmark, Ukraine, Germany, and the Czech Republic

The handball game that we know today was played in the late 19th century in the countries of Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. In 1906 the first written rules of the game was published, and the modern set of rules was published in 1917. 

The birth of the modern sport of handball is when the first official handball game took place in Berlin, Germany, in 1917. In 1919 the rules were improved, and the first international handball games took place in 1925 between Germany and Belgium for the men and 1930 between Germany and Austria. 

The International Amateur Handball Federation was established in 1928, and the International Handball Federation was established in 1946. There was men's field handball at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and as the sport grew, especially in the Scandinavian countries, team handball was first seen at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. 

Women's handball was added to the Olympics in 1976, and in the 1970s and 1980s, the Eastern European countries dominated the sport. 

Wall of Fame 

Like most other sports, the best handball player of all time is always debated. However, it is often a debate between the two players of Nikola Karabatić and Mikkel Hansen. Both have won the IHF World Player of the Year three times. To see the list of winners for that award CLICK HERE:

Other men's players that are considered to be the best of all time are Talant Dujshebaev, Ivano Balić, Joachim Deckarm, Thierry Omayer, and Gheorghe Gruia. 

Cristina Neagu is considered the best women's handball player of all time and has won the IHF World Player of the Year four times. 

Distinctive Elements 

The main distinctive element about the sport of handball is the fast pace of the game. Teams are always switching from offense to defense is the quick game where substitutes do not even have to notify the referee when they come in the handball game. 

Another element is how the different players and different positions all work together with one common objective. Teams have bigger and more physical players and then ball handlers and scorers on the outside, trying to score more goals than the opposing team. 


There are many statistics for the sport of handball, and they are both for teams and players. For teams, the win-loss record is the most important stat, and the team stats can also show how good a team's offense and defense are with shots taken, scored, and defensive stops. 

For players stats, the important ones for field players are goals, goal percentage, 7-meter shots, 2-minute penalties, and yellow cards. There are also key stats for goalkeepers, such as saves, shots, save percentage, and 7-meter stops. 

Handball game stats are also looked at closely for those that bet on the sport of handball. Handball bettors can handicap a game looking at the stats to get a better idea of what the winning bet can be. 

Popularity and Cultural Impact 

When it comes to the popularity and cultural impact of handball, it depends on the country. For example, the sport is prominent in the Scandinavian countries, as well as Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, France, Spain, and Germany. In those countries, handball players are some of the biggest sports stars, while American handball is not very popular at all. 

European handball is popular while American handball is not, as it is that simple. The cultural impact for handball where the sport is popular is significant, with the star players being used often to endorse products or lend their name to a worthy cause. Olympic handball is the biggest tournament followed by the World Cup and the European Championships.

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