The team sport handball is in Europe one of the most popular sports. It is played by men and women, kids and elder people. This game has plenty of rules, but who understands them will have lots of fun. Actually everyone can play, but who wants to be professional needs to be in a good shape. Handball is a fast game, you have to know how your teammates acting, and how to overrun the opponent. Normally each team scores between twenty-five and thirty-five goals a game.
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The history of the world cups, which are hold by the International Handball Federation (IHF) every odd year, that everyone can win. It is very unmoral, that a team defeats the title. The leading teams are good because of their historical background to handball. Germany, where handball is mainly invented between the World Wars, brought this game to Poland, Hungary and France. The countries of Scandinavia (mainly Sweden, Denmark and Iceland) always loved handball more than soccer. During the Cold War handball was the sport for the communists, which showed team hood, ability to fight and that the best team wins. So this game was more established in Germany (East), Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Soviet Union/Russia. The Romania as well as Sweden won the most world cups, all in all four. Approximately twenty international competitions of this kind were hold after the Second World War. This shows that already many different countries won the most important cup. Spain/France brought handball to their colonies all over the world. Regularly participants of the world cup are Brazil, Argentina, Angola, Tunisia and Egypt. In Asia handball was many played in Korea and Japan. At the moment this sport is becoming a more important competition than soccer for the countries/kingdoms in middle-east. All underdogs can bring the big handball nations to struggle, which happens every time.
This January/February the European and the Asian Championships were hold. The actual world champion Germany came only to a fourth place. Denmark, which team could not win anything in the past years, but they came back and won sovereign the title. In the Asian Conference Korea could win the cup against Kuwait in the final. Saudi-Arabia got third and Iran fourth.
In the competition for the women, there is not as many different nations who champion the world cup. Russia is definitely number one with five titles. Germany won four times the cup, three times by the team of the German Democrat Republic. At the end of this year (2008), the next world cup for the ladies will be hold in France.
The Olympic Games in Beijing this year will show made the best homework after the Continental Tournaments in both sexes. For the men Denmark is the top favorite for the gold medal and for the women it will be Russia.
Similar games to handball were already played in the Antique. The Greece played the “Urania Game” and the in the Roman Empire the Harpastron was a popular game. But these sports can not defined as the game from today. Neither the frescos in the castle Runkelstein in Alto Adige (South Tyrol, Italy) nor the playbook “Handballspiel” (handball game) published by Guts Muth 1797 as well as the mini field game “Handbold” by the Danish sport teacher Holger Nielsen are the ancestors of handball.
The 1891 founded Zenrtalausschuss für Volks- und Jugendspiele (central committee for folk and youth games) in Germany didn’t have any handball in it pages.
Soccer took at the end of the 19th century leadership in Europe, so handball is a reaction on it. The sport teacher Hagelauer invented the Torballspiel (goal ball game) in 1891. This game was put into the category of gymnastic games.
The beginning of the sport handball is to find in Sweden in 1906. This game was very similar to soccer. In 1911 another sport teacher invented handball, which was almost the same as the Swedish one. Out of these different forms of the new sport, Mr. Heiser published the main base of the modern handball. This game was at the beginning only for girls and women. October 29, 1917 is the date when the modern handball become reality. The basic rules were adopted from the game “Hazena”, which was played in Czechoslovakia. Karl Schelenz overwrote the some of the rules to make this new game also available for men. These newer version made handball to one of the most popular sports in Europe.
After the First World War handball become a sport in schools. In the rivaled sport organizations in Germany were the first games hold. Each organization had his own rules. The end of the confusing ruling made the Nazi-Party in 1934 with the consolidation of the institutional powers of the different sport organizations.
Earlier, in 1928, the International Amateur Handball Federation was founded in Amsterdam. This Federation adopted official rules which were made during a meeting of the International Amateur Athletic Federation in Den Haag in 1926. They have set the international rules. In 1934 handball became an Olympic sport. The first tournament was then during the Olympic Games 1936 in Berlin. Only six nations attempted the new sport. Surprising was, that the United States of America were one of these, even when they got the last place. The undefeated winner was Germany. Second place took Austria and third Switzerland. The other participants were Hungary and Romania. Whereas handball became a popular sport for males, the females decided instead to play netball. The field handball was only in 1936 an Olympic sport. In 1972 the indoor handball was first played during the Olympic Games in Munich.
In 1938 the first IAHF World Cup was hold in Berlin. Only four teams played this tournament, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Denmark. But this was not the first international meeting of handball teams. Already in 1910 teams of ship companies from Sweden and Denmark fought against each other. These tournaments were hold in gyms. From middle of the 1930’s till 1941 Germany dominated handball against the teams from Scandinavia.
During the Second World War the new popular sport almost died. In August 1946 the International Handball Federation was founded in Copenhagen. After that first tournaments as field handball were hold in the English and American Zones in Germany. Together with the founding of the Deutscher Handball Bund (DHB – German Handball Association) in 1949 in the Feral Republic of Germany, teams fought for the first German Championship in field and indoor handball. The Handball Association for the German Democratic Republic was found in 1958. The national team from western Germany won all four world titles till 1966, but one as all together (1959) with the players from the Russian Zone.
Now worldwide handball became a popular sport. For instance there wOnly in northern Europe it took longer, even they were the ones who played handball before the World War. The reason was simple. The weather was to cold to play a season from Spring to Fall. They came to the idea to play handball in gymnasiums again. Unlucky there came another problem. The gyms were to small to play along the field handball rules. One of the main things were that they changed the numbers of players from eleven to seven. All in all the new indoor handball made the sport independent from the weather and increased the safety for the players. This had an effect on the scenes of the games. The teams played in new different formations, used different plays and tricks to overrun their opponent. More and more handball became a faster sport and today indoor handball is one of the fastest team sports in the world. Sweden and Denmark showed, that in handball was and is everything possible.
At the beginning indoor and outdoor handball were treated equal. During the 1960’s the cities and towns in Germany built gyms, which were sponsored by the federal government. More and more teams began to play the indoor version, which was way more spectacular and in1972 the Field Handball League was stopped. The final death hit for the field handball came, as indoor handball was recognized as an Olympic sport in 1972 and for women in 1976. In 1975 the last German field handball championship were hold. This was the end of the milestone for modern handball.
An indoor handball field has to be forty meters long and twenty meters wide. For the safety of the players and public viewers, there should be a safety area around court, which is between one and two meters wide.
The mid-field line divides the court into two half’s, which are exactly similar. The goals are the end of the court and in the middle. This is similar to soccer, but the goals are smaller. The International Handball Federation says, that the goals has to be two meters high and three meters wide. From each post is a six meter quarter circle. These are from the ground line (the line on which the goal stands) towards the middle of the field. Between these to quarter of a circle is a three meter line. All in all its is almost a half circle. In this area is only the goalkeeper of the defending team allowed. The Free-throw line has the same form as the six-meter line, but it is nine meters from the posts. All fouls, which the defending team commits on the striking team commits, have to be continued from the free-throw line. Seven meters away from the goal is the penalty line. The substitution area is for each team three meters from the middle towards its defending site.
A handball game has two half times of each thirty minutes. The half time break has to be ten minutes long. If there is a draw after regular time and they need a winner (in tournaments) there is a overtime rule. The overtime is two times five minutes. If there is still a draw, there is the next overtime and after that it comes to a penalty shootout.
During the game the clock will be stopped for harder fouls, penalties and time-outs as well as for injured players. The referees categories if there is a need to pause the game for a certain foul. Each team gets one time-out per half. These time-outs are sixty seconds long.
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The ball has to be round. The size for men handball has to be between fifty-eight and sixty centimeter and it should weight between 425 and 475 grams. The balls for women is smaller. It should be between fifty-four and fifty-six centimeter and 325 and 375 grams. In each game has to be at least two balls. One is in use, the other in reserve.
Each teams is allowed to have fourteen players. At the same time can play only seven players, one of them should be the goalkeeper. In tactic situations they can use the goalie as a field player. The other player are substitutes. To begin of the game there has to be at least five players of the team to start the competition. Delayed players has to be always accepted. The team can lose players because of penalties or injuries, but there is no limit to stop the game, the referee can decide if there is need to do it. Each team gets only four officials. One of them has to be the head one. He is the only person who is allowed to talk to the referees and he has to make sure, that there are only the four same officials and team players during the game. Every player can be substituted as often as the team wants. Every substitution has to be in the substitution zone. If the team makes a mistake, a penalty will follow. If one player got an injury or is bleeding, he has to leave the court immediately.
The player of the team have to wear the same shirts, which has a different color from the opponent. The goalkeeper needs to wear a different color than his teammates and the opponent. The number on the back of the shirt has to be at least twenty centimeter and on the chest at least ten centimeter big. The wearing of the earrings, necklaces etc. is forbidden.
The goalkeeper is allowed to block the shot with all parts of his body. He is the only one who is allowed in the goal area (six meter half circle). He can is also allowed to leave this area, but then he has to follow the rules, which are for every field player. All his actions have to be safe, he can not make any movements to mislead his opponent in a way could get injuries. For instance running out to stop the opponent player. He is not allowed to touch the ball outside of the goalie area, if he is still in it. He also can not bring the ball make from outside into the goalie area.
The player can play, hit, catch, or stop the ball with your hands, arms, head, back, thigh, or knees, but not with his foot or lower leg. He only can keep the ball for three seconds without doing anything, also can he move only three steps with the ball in your hands. To move over the court the player can dribble the ball. When he catches the ball after the dribbling he can not start dribble again. The player has to pass or shoot the ball. To pass the ball the person can also sit, knee down, or lie down. If the ball touches the referee, the game will be continued like normal. If the player runs out of bound with the ball, there has to be throw-in for the other team, the same is, when the ball rolls or flies out of bounds. The team gets the ball, which did not touch the ball as last.
In handball is no passive play allowed. If the referee recognize a passive playing, then he has to tell it. If the striking team is still playing passive, there will be a free-throw for the other team.
The striking team gets a goal, if the ball has moved completely of the goal line and if there were no fouls. The referee has to signal the goal with to short whistles. If the referee stopped the game before the ball moved over the goal line, than it does not count. In the handball game is it possible to make own goals. These goals are counted normal for the other team. If the ball was stopped by something else then the players or the goalie, for instance the audience, the referee has to decide if the there could have been a goal or not. After a goal the other team has to bring the ball back into the game with throw from the middle line. The team with the most goals is the winning team. Each goal is like one point. The teams can only earn these with shooting goals.
Every game has to be lead by two referees. They can start punish the player when they move onto the field (only if there is a discrimination or violent action against opponent players). The same rules after the game. The referees also have to check the court and the goals as well as they decide which ball is going to be used. They have to check the teams too, like the jerseys, participating players and officials. One of the referees leads the coin flip. The other one has to be present.
The whole game has to be lead by the same referees. The have to guide the game after rules, which are made by the International Handball Federation and the local association for the sport of handball. If the referees punish a person different for the same foul, than they have to take always the heavier punishment. If both referees decide for the opposite team, than both have to come together and decide, how they are going to rule. The referees have also to write down the goals, warnings, and disqualifications. They referees can decide when to interrupt, stop or end earlier the game.
The wearing of black clothes is mainly for referees. If they are going to wear another color, it has to be a bright one, which is totally different from any player of both teams.
Prof. Dr. Braun, Harald. “Zur Geschichte des Handballspiels.” Handball History. 1997/1998. University Bremen. 18 Feb 2008 http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~hospo/Geschichte-Sportarten.html.
Herden, Jan-Frederick. “DHB Handball Regeln.” handball rules. 01/08/2005. Deutscher Handball Bund. 18 Feb 2008 http://www.handballregeln.de/.
Fleischer, Nicole. “Geschichte des Handballs.” Die Anfaenge. 2006. HaSpo Bayreuth. 18 Feb 2008
IHF – International Handball Federation
Summers, David. The Sports Book. 1. New York, NY: DK Publishing, 2007.