Get hooked on handball

Handball has been an Olympic sport since 1936. It's popular across the world, with some top professional players earning six-figure salaries. But in Britain the sport remains relatively unknown.

"It's a mystery why handball is not more popular in this country," says Frazer Snowdon of the British Handball Association. "The game is fantastic to play and watch because it's fast, intense and there are plenty of goals scored."

There are seven players on each side. The aim is to pass and bounce the ball up the court and shoot for the goal from outside the goal area, much like five-a-side football.

Players can jump over the court as long as they release the ball before they touch the floor, and because defenders are allowed to block the attackers it can be exciting to watch. It's a contact sport, but not in the same way that rugby is.

"Anyone can play handball," says Frazer. "It's a great way to get fit and have fun at the same time."

A great mix

Handball can be really fast, so it's a great way to get into shape. Apart from the aerobic benefit, it helps to build up muscle tone and strength.

The court is 40m long and 20m wide, so players can run several miles during each 60-minute game, and use almost every muscle in their body.

Handball has something to offer everyone. Frazer says: "It's a great mix of basketball, netball, football and rugby, and it's popular with people who have played other sports but want to try something different.

"We are taking the sport into schools and community organisations, and we find that as soon as people play handball, they're hooked."

Handball is not just for children. New clubs are springing up across the country and welcome players of any age.

"The great thing about handball is that it can be as serious as you want it to be," says Snowdon.

"At the top level it's a pretty intense game, but for others it's a really fun way to get fit and meet new people."

Page last reviewed: 01/07/2013

Next review due: 01/07/2015


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