In addition to soccer, handball is one of the best-known and most popular team sports in Germany. Each team consists of 7 players, 6 field players and a goalkeeper.
The aim of the handball game is to overcome the opponent's space and successfully complete the goal throw, and to prevent the opponent from doing the same. The team that has scored the most goals at the end of the playing time is the winner. Since both conditional aspects and coordination play a role in handball, it is particularly suitable for motor development in children.
Other forms of handball are field handball and beach handball.

Elements of the handball game

  • Bouncing
  • Throwing / impact throw
  • To catch
  • Fit


Since throwing and catching is fundamental to handball, the roots of the game of handball can be found in ancient times. In ancient Rome the Romans invented a game called Urania, which was dominated by throwing and catching.

The handball game as it is played today, however, did not emerge until the beginning of the 20th century. As a modification of a basketball game, the ball was thrown at a goal for the first time.

In 1917, the Berlin gymnastics supervisor Max Heiser renamed the first game of goalball to handball.

He wanted to create a counterpart to the soccer game in which women were given access to team sports. It was played without physical contact.

Only two years later, the gymnastics teacher Carl Schelenz founded a handball game for boys and men. The sport was played with smaller balls and for the first time with physical contact. He also introduced bouncing. For practical reasons, he took over the field, number of players and referees from football. Handball became more and more attractive and the first teams were formed. In 1921 the first German championship was held. The first international handball match took place against Austria in 1924.

In 1928 the first international handball federation IAHF was founded as part of the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The first world championship in handball was held in Berlin in 1938.

At the 1936 Summer Olympics, the German team won against Austria in front of 100,000 spectators. This attendance record has not been achieved in any handball game since then.

However, handball did not find its way into all countries. Thus it is hardly known in the USA and Australia, but it enjoys high popularity in European countries. Handball is particularly widespread in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Eastern European countries.


Since the introduction of the fast middle, the physical conditions in handball have changed. By quickly switching between defense and attack, the new variant allows players to play faster counter-attacks. The attacking team is therefore forced to get into their own half as quickly as possible after a successful goal completion. This rapid change makes it practically impossible for players to take breaks during the game. Handball therefore requires, among other things, a high level of endurance. Since the playing surface has to be overcome quickly in handball, optimal speed / quick action is also a basic requirement.

The combination of running, catching, dribbling, jumping and throwing (jump shot / drop throw / scarf throw) requires a high degree of coordination with the ball. Handball is one of the most popular team sports in Germany, and thus you can find it almost everywhere in all ages and levels of ability . The entire handball game is based on an optimally coordinated team. A planned attack game is rarely characterized by individual performance, but requires teamwork. The actions of the other players must be tactically coordinated and anticipated both in attack and in defense. Every handball player must be able to work in a team in order to be able to integrate into a team.

The playing field

The playing field with a rectangular shape with a length of 40 meters (Sidelines) and a width of 20 meters (Goal lines) is divided into 2 equal squares (sides of the field) by a center line. The goal areas are defined by goal-area lines (Throwing circle) separated from the playing field. They run 6 meters from the gate. The dashed free-throw lines run parallel to this goal-area line at a distance of 9 meters from the goal. The penalty line from which the 7-meter throws are taken is located between the goal area line and the free throw line. At the height of the center line there are two replacement lines of 4.5 meters. Substitutions may only be made in this area, otherwise the player receives a penalty of 2 minutes.

The goal area

In principle, field players may not enter the goal area unless the player does not gain an advantage. If a player starts a jump shot and lands in the goal area after the ball has left his hand, this is permitted. There is a 4-meter line in the goal area. With a 7-meter throw, the goalkeeper may leave the goal up to this line. If the ball is in the possession of the goalkeeper in the goal area, the ball is “out of play and must be brought back into play by a throw-off.

Tactic attack

Since it turns out to be extremely difficult in handball to overcome the opposing defense, the tactical actions in handball aim to deceive or confuse the opposing defense. The actions of the attacking team must be carried out early and purposefully. Individual actions rarely lead to success, so various moves are essential for the game. In handball, a distinction is made between team tactics, group tactics and individual tactics.

Group tactics


Crossing is one of the basic tactical skills in handball. It is based on a position change between two players. The crossing does not serve directly as the playing of a scoring opportunity, but rather as an introduction to a creative follow-up action. Since the defense defends partly position-based, partly space-related, the crossing often leads to discrepancies within the defending team.
The player in the middle (back center) is in possession of the ball. He fakes movement. The player on the left (left backcourt) runs past the player in possession and is thrown a pass. The positions are swapped. As a follow-up action, the player could now play a pass to the right outside, or cross again with the right back area.

Running in

The running-in, or also called transition, is used in handball to create an outnumbered situation. In principle it is possible from all positions and serves to defend against handover problems. In most cases an outside player runs from his outside position to the throwing circle in order to offer himself as a second circle runner. The incoming player takes a blocked position. As a follow-up action, crosses, bans, 1: 1 situations can be played.


Blocking means that an attacker (cyclist) stands in front of a defensive player who is blocked and an attacking action can be carried out. This form of attack requires a certain amount of physical effort on the part of the blocking player. The player in possession of the ball initiates the blocking situation by forcing the defender away from the planned blocking position in the direction of movement. The circle player must closely observe and anticipate the behavior of the player in possession of the ball. Blocking is therefore very complex and requires optimal coordination in the attack.

Push 1: 1

The attack of a single player never takes place on a defensive player on it, but always in the gap between the defensive players. If the breakthrough is successful, a goal throw is made. The aim of this push movement is not to throw a goal, but to bind two defenders. This results in a positional advantage for the attacking team. If the defending players are in the threatened area, they are played safely to the teammate despite physical contact.

After the pass, the passing player must immediately return to his starting position so that another powerful attack can be played.

Defense tactics

The defensive behavior in handball is also based on a perfectly coordinated action of the individual players. Basically there is a 1: 5 defense in handball. Other forms such as a 6: 0 or 3: 2: 1 defense are pre-forms that are often used in children's tap ball. The defense should not only react to the attacking team, as is often assumed, but rather act itself. Through the offensive defensive game and offering gaps, the defending team can actively contribute to the opponent's loss of the ball.

Man coverage

The man marking is particularly used in children and youth training, as the basic defensive behavior in handball can be trained here. In addition, a man marking promotes the motivation of the young people. The man marking is carried out in different variations. On the one hand, a man covering is carried out over the entire field of play, but this is associated with a very high level of physical stress and carries the risk of being overrun. The second variant is to cover up about 10 meters in front of your own goal. This is a very defensive and simple variant of defensive behavior, and also trains the teammates to help out.


The following applies to every man marking: stand between the opponent and your own goal. It is important to shield the attacker's throwing arm side and to actively disturb the opponent, and to help out fellow players if they have been overrun.

1: 5 defense

This variant of the defense game is the most common form in handball. It is easy to learn and builds on the man marking. The 1: 5 defense is a form of space coverage where each player covers his own space. When the attacking team crosses, the opponent is changed.

Methodology handball

Introduction methodology

This article deals with the methodology of playing handball. It is mainly used by teachers, trainers and trainers to teach handball specifically to every age group.

Attitudes towards sport have changed fundamentally in recent years. The increasing consumer technology and generation of computer games is more than just a competitor to extracurricular sports. The numbers of overweight children have increased dramatically. A lack of motor skills and poor posture have long been common. Many children quickly lose their motivation to play sports or do not even find a connection to sports. The more important is the question of: "how do I convey sport so that children and young people do not lose the fun of sport?“.

The older generation of trainers in particular often finds it difficult to adapt to new situations. Classically applied forms of training can often drive the club to the wall, not because the forms of training are bad, but because they fail to connect. What good is the promotion of talent if the talent does not enjoy sport? This also names the most important factor in children's sport. If you enjoy sport, you do it out of your own intention and will also be bound to your sport in the future. Trainers, teachers or trainers who make their lessons attractive and exciting can and will be able to offer children an interesting change from computers and games consoles. Since nowadays young people rarely engage in extracurricular sport on their own initiative, and any kind of sport can also be practiced in virtual form from the sofa, school and club sport must cooperate. Problems that arise, such as heterogeneous performance groups or a lack of space are simple, solvable tasks that are no real challenges for a well-trained teacher. If you take these and the following guidelines into account in your exercise lesson, you will be able to retain children and young people in your sport in the future.

Motor versatility development in childhood

The best age to learn handball is between the ages of 9 and 12. This point is particularly necessary for children of this age, as the sports are too often taught too specifically in clubs. Learning handball means mastering all basic coordinative elements. Running, jumping and throwing must be trained in a variety of ways. Because if you have a high coordinative repertoire of movements, you will have advantages in many sports in the future.

The goals of basic motor development are:

  • Mastery of a wide range of sports
  • Gathering diverse movement experiences
  • Get to know sports equipment
  • Coordinative / conditional development
  • Develop the motivation to persist in exercising.

Motivation-promoting aspects must be considered in childhood throughout the entire teaching unit. This can be done by:

Perform all exercises in game forms (throwing games, target throws, goal throws, etc.)

The entire conditional development is also characterized by the form of the game. Catch games achieve the same level of success as conservative sprint training. Due to the increased motivation, participation and success are usually even more intense.

Notice! In handball, children must play handball as early as possible. Classic concepts such as isolated training of individual technical elements neither motivate the children nor lead to the result of learning handball. By simplifying the game situation, even beginners can play handball very quickly.

Playing with beginners

The goal of a development with beginners is the game situation 4: 1 on the cross field. In this learning stage, in addition to developing coordinative and conditional skills, the child-friendly teaching of rules and behavior in the team. Children can develop social skills especially in sport. In addition to “fair play”, the “ability to work in a team” is particularly important and should be taught in a targeted manner. All technical elements should be trained and improved based on a game situation. The following applies to corrections: children give praise when they have done something right and, if they make mistakes, address the improvement rather than the error. E.g. You did the run-up very well, and when throwing you can try to take your arm a little further back.

Error weeding pedagogy should be avoided in any case. The children should not be understood as deficient beings, but the achievement of a goal must be in the foreground.

Stages of development

The individual learning levels do not have to be carried out in this order, but can be mixed without any problems. They only serve as a framework for learning the sport of handball.


At the top, the student / beginner deals with the ball alone. When bouncing, the student can concentrate entirely on himself, and external disturbances such as teammates are excluded. In addition, bouncing in children fulfills motivational aspects.


The throwing techniques developed in the preliminary stage can now be expanded specifically for handball. However, this must always be linked to a goal. E.g. A medicine ball is placed in the middle of the hall and thrown from both sides by two teams, trying to let the mediball roll over the opposing outside line. There is no limit to the trainer's imagination.

In the next learning stage is the Standard situation 1: 1 in the foreground. The children learn to play around an opponent by bouncing and to protect the ball. The associated defensive game is also trained in this phase. Note: Do not separate defense and attack in training practice, but always mediate in mutual relation.

In the 4th learning stage the Throwing a goal after a pass. The students learn to observe their own teammates for the first time. This level will be expanded and the Crossing the playing field included. With these basic characteristics, game situations such as 2: 1, 3: 2 ... are further expanded. Trainers can also create outnumbered situations in attack and defense so that tactical behavior can be better trained.


It is important in the entire development that the motor versatility development is always in the foreground.

More information

further information on this topic:

  • Punch handball

  • Movement science
  • tennis
  • Movement coordination
  • Biomechanics
  • Strength training

All topics that have been published in the field of sports medicine can be found under: Sports medicine A-Z