7 Different Types of Handball

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The term “handball” refers to more than just the illegal use of one’s hand in soccer. It’s also a sport in its own right—or, to be exact, handball is several sports, taking several different forms that have vastly different origins. If you’re not sure how to differentiate between the different types of handball, here’s a quick guide.

Team handball: Team handball is probably the best-known variety of handball, since it has been included in the Summer Olympics since 1972. It’s most commonly played indoors between two teams of seven on-field players. It’s sort of a cross between hockey and basketball, with players attempting to put the ball through the opposing team’s goal, and with restrictions on how long a player may hold the ball before passing or dribbling.

American handball: American handball is completely different from team handball. It’s very similar to squash or racquetball, except players use their hands, rather than a racquet, to hit the ball. This game is most popular in New York City, where a fast-paced, one-wall version of the game is played in one of the city’s many courts. The small playing area of the game is perfect for places like New York where space is at a premium.

Australian handball: Australian handball is very similar to American handball, with minor differences in the rules governing scoring and how many times the ball may bounce.

Gaelic handball: Gaelic handball, or Irish handball, is also very similar to the American and Australian versions of the game, and it’s thought to be the origin of both sports. The game is very popular in Ireland, where it is a professional sport and viewed as a source of national pride.

Field handball: Field handball is the original version of what is now known as team handball. Unlike team handball, it is played on an outdoor field that is similar in size to a soccer field. Field handball was included in the troubled 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, but it was never included in the Olympics again.

Beach handball: Beach handball is a version of team handball that is played, obviously, on a beach.

Frisian handball: Frisian handball is a Dutch game that is very similar to Gaelic and American handball, except players hit the ball back and forth to each other’s receiving zones, rather than off a wall. It is thought to be one of the oldest sports in the world, and it has been organized since 1854.

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