Team Handball: The best sport you haven’t heard about

Team Handball is one of the fastest growing sports in America.

The+USA+Women%27s+Team+Handball+team+celebrates+after+winning+the+bronze+medal+beating+Greenland+27-23.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Team Handball: The best sport you haven’t heard about

The USA Women's Team Handball team celebrates after winning the bronze medal beating Greenland 27-23.

The USA Women's Team Handball team celebrates after winning the bronze medal beating Greenland 27-23.

The USA Women's Team Handball team celebrates after winning the bronze medal beating Greenland 27-23.

The USA Women's Team Handball team celebrates after winning the bronze medal beating Greenland 27-23.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The United States of America, one of the powerhouses of the Olympics, has never won an Olympic medal in the second most popular sport in Europe, Team Handball. No, I’m not talking about the handball you played against a wall in the schoolyard as a kid, I’m talking about one of the most competitive and physical sports that’s played in the Olympics. To try and relate Team Handball to popular American sports, it can be classified as a combination of basketball, soccer, and hockey.

The Team Handball Federation describes the basic rules of the game as follows:

  • The objective of the game is to score a goal by passing the ball quickly and throwing the  ball past the defense and goalie and into the goal.
  • A regulation game is played on a floor that is slightly larger than a basketball court.
  • The game consists of two thirty minute halves and each team gets one timeout per half.
  • Each successful goal is worth 1 point.
  • The game is started with a coin toss to determine which teams has possession and begins the game with a center throw off (This is a pass to a teammate, like a kick off in soccer).
  • Teams consist of 7 players (6 court players and one goalkeeper):   Left wing, circle runner, right wing, left backcourt, center, right backcourt.
This diagram shows the layout of a regualtion Team Handball court.

This diagram shows the layout of a regualtion Team Handball court.

Team Handball was introduced to the Olympics in 1936. After 1936, it was not brought back to the Olympics until 1972. Over the years, the men’s event has been dominated by Russia and the countries that were pulled into the Soviet Union such as Croatia, Yugoslavia, and the Unified Team that was formed for the 1992 Olympics that involved many players from former countries of the Soviet Union. More recently, France has dominated the past two Olympics taking the gold medal in both 2008 and 2012. The women’s event has been taken over by Denmark and Norway.

Both the United States men’s and women’s teams have not qualified for the Olympics since receiving an automatic bid for the games in 1996 since the Olympics were held on U.S. soil in Atlanta, Georgia. The lack of trips to the Olympics makes the statistic that they have never won a medal at the games less surprising.

USA Women's left wing, Zoe Lombard, shoots and scores against Uruguay in competition.

USA Women’s left wing, Zoe Lombard, shoots and scores against Uruguay in competition.

For the first time in ten years, the Women’s team won a medal at an international tournament. The women’s team won a bronze medal at the Women’s Nor. Ca Pan American Championship Qualifier. USA beat Greenland 27-23. By taking third place, the women’s team will play in the Pan American Championship in Havana, Cuba. The road to the Olympics seems quite impossible right now, but the team will keep working hard no matter their fate for the 2016 Olympics. The team captain of the women’s team, Sarah Gascon, is married to Servite’s athletic trainer Coach Matt Chandler.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email