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10 Basic Handball Rules

When you start playing handball you soon realise it is a pacy indoor ball game. Let's slow things down a little and learn how to play basic handball rules for beginners - the simple way. This is only a simple snapshot of the basic fundamentals. But, it is an ideal place to start if you want to learn how to play team handball in 5 to 10 minutes of reading.

BASIC RULES OF HANDBALL: We start off the list of regulations with the top 10 basic rules of handball game.

This guide highlights the main playing regulations for all newcomers to the sport.

Beginners can move to the next level by first mastering these ten simple handball rules.

You need speedy footwork, physical stamina, and sharp awareness around the court. Your game is certain to improve once you learn these top 10 rules of handball.

The basic rules in playing handball are often termed ‘a physical game of throw ball‘. And it’s called that for a good reason, as most competitors will tell you.

The International Handball Federation (IHF) governs and regulates the codified rules of the sport. Take your time looking through the simplified guide of the top 10 ‘how to play handball rules‘ below.

Note: This is only a simplified snapshot and overview of the codified handball game rules and regulations.

10 Rules of Handball

These 10 handball regulations should help complete beginners. Those who enjoy playing competitive throw ball sports may enjoy the guide. It might surprise you how much energy and power you need to achieve maximum enjoyment of the sport.

Team handball combines physical fitness with mental dexterity. The game never fails to test your delicate touches and strategic indoor court skills.

1. Aim of the Game

Handball is sometimes called team handball or Olympic handball. It is a team sport played between two teams of 7 players. The aim of handball is to hand pass a ball to each other until a player can throw the ball it into the goal of the opposing team.

2. Equipment

You need only the basic equipment needed to play handball. You can enjoy a game with a ball and either an indoor or outdoor court. You will need one goal centered at each end of the field.

3. Players

Each should have 6 outfield players and one goalkeeper. The squad should consist of no more than 14 players including 7 rolling substitutes. The goalkeeper must wear different coloured kit to the outfield players.

4. Match Duration

As a rule a handball match has two 30-minute halves. There will be a 15-minute break at halftime when teams also switch sides of the court before the restart. The referees blows his whistle to start play and to show rules’ infractions.

5. General Play

  • Six Metre Line: Only the goalkeeper can play inside the 6 meter goal line area. The exception could be when a player takes a shot on goal. But, the player must shoot the ball before landing in the goal area.
  • Walking: Handball players cannot take more than three steps without dribbling (or bouncing) the ball. Holding the ball for more than 3 seconds without a bounce or shot is ‘walking’. The team loses possession of the ball in this case.
  • Double Dribble: You cannot catch the ball, bounce it, then hold the ball and bounce once more.
  • Kicking: Only the goalkeeper can kick the ball. Possession gets lost to the other side if the ball touches the foot of an outfield player.

6. Fouls

Most of the fouls in handball involve physical misconduct. There should be no pushing, tripping, hitting, charging, clinching, or holding.

7. Scoring

Players score a goal when the whole of the ball crosses the goal line and stays inside the goal. Scoring goals from a free-throw, throw-in, throw-off, or goal-throw is within handball rules UK.

8. Regulations

The referee awards a penalty-throw any time a player gets denied a clear scoring opportunity caused by a rule infringement. Players may also receive penalty sanctions for serious offences.

The resulting punishment varies. It can be a yellow card (a warning), suspension (2 minutes sitting out), or a red card (a dismissal).

9. Officials

There should be two match referees in handball games. One is the court referee and the other officiates the goal line.

Both referees have complete authority and governance in the match. Their ruling decisions are final and without question. A timekeeper and a scorer assist the referee in competitive handball events.

10. Winning the Match

Winning a handball game means you scored more goals than your opponents at the end of the game. Teams will play extra periods of overtime if the game gets tied. A shoot-out determines the result of the game when scores remain even after extra time.


Handball Court Dimensions: Check out the standard court size and goal line markings.
Handball Equipment List: A concise list of equipment needed to play team handball.
Handball FAQ: All the answers to the most common questions asked about handball.
Handball Positions: Check the 7 court positions with player roles and responsibilities.
Handball Terminology: An extensive list of handball terms and phrases from A-Z.
EHA Handball Official Rules Book: [PDF Download Option]

How to Play Handball for Beginners: 10 Rules of Handball Game