Handball scoring, rules and officials


In handball, a goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes between the goalposts and travels fully over the goal line. However, a goal is not awarded until the referee has signalled this and they are confident that no rules have been broken.

At the end of the match, the team with the most goals will be awarded the winners. However, in the event that both teams have the same score, a draw is recorded.


  • A competitive game consists of equal 30-minute halves with a 10-15 minute break.
  • A team cannot keep possession of the ball without attempting to attack.
  • The start is awarded to the team that wins the coin toss.
  • A match begins with both teams in their own half.
  • A goal can be scored from any type of throw.
  • A player can run with the ball for three steps maximum.
  • A player can hold a ball for up to three seconds maximum.
  • A player can continuously dribble, providing they bounce the ball.
  • A player can take three steps maximum before and after dribbling (no 'double dribble').
  • Players are not able to endanger an opponent with the ball.
  • Players are not permitted to pull, hit or punch the ball out of the hands of an opponent.
  • Players cannot make contact with the ball below the knee.
  • Players cannot dive on the floor to regain a loose ball.
  • A player is allowed to use the torso of the body to obstruct an opponent with or without the ball.
  • A player cannot outstretch arms or legs to obstruct, push, hold, trip or hit.
  • An attacking player is not allowed to charge into a defensive player.
  • A throw-in is awarded when the ball goes out of bounds and the thrower must place one foot on the sideline to execute the throw.
  • All opposing players must stay 3 m away from the throw-in.
  • All minor fouls or violations are penalised with the awarding of a free-throw which is taken at the place of infringement.


A game of handball is officiated by four officials – two referees, a scorekeeper and a timekeeper. The referees are positioned diagonally on court to observe a side line each and, depending on who is attacking, one is called field referee and the other goal referee.

Officials have a whistle and 18 hand signals to communicate the decision that has been made and use a yellow and red system to warn or remove players.