Team Handball

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Handball, Team


(Russian, gandbol or ruchnoi miach), a team sport played with a ball. There are two different types of team handball: seven-man (with seven players on each team) and 11-man (with 11 players on each team). Seven-man handball is considered to have originated in Denmark in 1898; its invention is attributed to H. Nielsen. Seven-man handball is normally played in a gymnasium, on a court 40 m by 20 m. The teams try to throw a round inflated ball (425-475 g, with a circumference of 58-60 cm) into a goal 3 m by 2 m, which is protected by a goalie; the players are not allowed inside the 6-meter zone in front of the opponent’s goal. A normal soccer field and the soccer goal are used for 11-man handball. A game consists of two 30-minute periods for men, with 25-minute periods for women.

Seven-man handball, the more dynamic and entertaining of the two games, gained widespread popularity in the middle of the 20th century in many countries. In the beginning of the 1970’s, approximately 3 million athletes, on all continents, played team handball. The International Handball Federation (IHF) united 40 national federations, including that of the USSR (since 1958). World championships are held every four years, and the European Cup (for club teams) is contested every year. Seven-man handball for men was included in the Olympic Games program in 1972. The leading teams in both men’s and women’s handball (1971) come from socialist countries: Rumania, the German Democratic Republic, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

In the USSR, team handball has been played since 1919, but it has been popular only since the mid-1950’s. In 1971 approximately 850,000 athletes participated in team handball, including about 250 Masters of Sport. USSR championships are held every year for women’s and men’s teams. Frequent champions and high placers are the MAI (Moscow Aviation Institute) and Kuntsevo (Moscow) sports clubs in the men’s team handball championships and Spartak (Kiev), Zhal’giris (Kaunas), and Luch (Moscow) in women’s team handball.


Ryzhkov, D. L. Ruchnoi miach. Moscow, 1966.
Kunst-Ghermanescu, I. Ruchnoi miach 7:7. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from Rumanian.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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