What Are the Rules to Play Handball?

Handball is played indoors on a playing surface similar to an indoor soccer field. The court, which is slightly larger than a regulation basketball court, features goals situated on each end. Handball matches consist of two teams of seven players (one goalkeeper and six field players). Similar to soccer, the objective of a handball match is to score points by placing the ball in the opposition’s goal.

Handball is played with a spherical synthetic or leather ball. After securing possession of the ball, players can only maintain possession for three seconds before dribbling, shooting or passing. Players can only take up to three steps without dribbling, but can continue their possession with an additional three steps after dribbling. Only the goalkeeper is permitted within the goal line area, which is approximately 20 feet from the net.

Handball matches consist of two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute halftime break. Each team receives one timeout per half. If the score is tied after regulation, a 10-minute overtime consisting of two five-minute halves is played. If the score remains tied after overtime, a shootout commences to determine the winner. Shootouts feature undefended shots from the penalty shot area, which is approximately 23 feet from goal.

General contact is permitted in handball; however, unsportsmanlike conduct, as determined by the referees, results in a stoppage of play or, in more severe cases, a penalty shot.