The Rules Of Handball

Thinking of playing handball? Here’s a quick guide to the basic rules of the sport before you get out on the court.

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Basic handball rules

The six metre line - No handball player (other than the goalkeeper) is allowed in the goal area (inside the 6m line). Exceptions are after a shot on goal, when the player jumps into the area and shoots the ball before landing in the goal area.

‘Walking’ - If a handball player takes more than three steps without dribbling (bouncing the ball) or holds the ball for more than 3 seconds without bouncing it, shooting or passing, then that is deemed ‘walking' and possession is lost.

'Double dribble’ - Handball players cannot receive the ball and bounce it, then hold the ball, and bounce it again. This is termed ‘double dribble’ and is against the rules.

‘Kicking’ - Handball players (other than the goalkeeper) must not kick the ball. If the ball touches the foot, then possession is awarded to the opposition.

Handball fouls - No tripping, pushing, hitting, clinching, charging or holding is allowed in handball.

Free-throws in handball - These are awarded for slight infringements of the rules. All defenders are required to stay 3m (9.84ft) away from the person taking the free-throw.

Penalty-throws in handball - These are awarded when denying a clear scoring opportunity with an infringement.

Handball sanctions - Depending on the seriousness of the offenses, the referee can award players with either a yellow card (warning), suspension (2 minutes sitting out), or a red card (dismissal).

Throw-ins - These are awarded after the ball has crossed a side line. It is taken by the side who did not touch it last, with the player putting one foot on the line where ball went out and passing it back into the court.

Corners - A corner is taken by the attacking side when a defender has knocked the ball over the goal line (other than in the goal). The player puts one foot on the corner of the side line and the goal line and passes the ball in.

Goal-throws - This occurs when the ball comes off a goalkeeper and crosses the goal line. The goalkeeper then takes the throw from within their own area.

Find out more about the handball court.

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