Handball, Team

Also found in: Dictionary.

handball, team,


field handball,

team court game. Despite its status as an Olympic sport, the game is virtually unknown in the United States. Originated in central Europe in the early 1900s as an outdoor game, it combines elements of soccer and basketball. The fast-paced play of 7- or 11-person teams has as its object the hurling of a cantaloupe-sized ball into a goal. Players may run or dribble three steps with the ball, but most advancement comes from passing. Fouls result in free throws and penalty throws.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.)


Handball, Team


a sport. In 1974, the International Handball Federation (IHF) united approximately 70 national team handball federations. There are more than 3 million players worldwide; players in the USSR number approximately 800,000, with more than 500 masters of sport. World championships have been held for women since 1930 and for men since 1938. Student championships were begun in 1968, and USSR championships were first held in 1957. The European Champions’ Cup has been played by men’s teams since 1957 and by women’s teams since 1960. Team handball was first played at the Olympics in 1936 and has been included in the Olympic Games since 1972. The best achievements by Soviet players have been a first place in the Olympic tournaments for men’s and women’s teams in 1976 and victories in the play-offs of the European Champions’ Cup for women’s teams in 1963, 1967–68, 1970–73, and 1975 and for men’s teams in 1973.

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