Handball is a game that uses the hand or fist to hit a small ball. The game is broken up into rallies. Each rally is won when the other team is unable to return the ball before touching the floor twice. Points, however, are only awarded to the serving team either when the opponent fails to return a rally or when the serving team serves an ace. Therefore, the receiving team does not score points when the serving team fails to return the ball. An ace is a serve where the ball remains untouched by the other team. Games are won when one team earns 21 points. Matches are won when one team wins two games. The game of handball is so common in the United States that most health clubs have their own courts.
In the US the sport is taking off. You can find a branch of the US Handball Association (USHA) in every region of the country. California has the largest membership with 1,440 members. Mississippi comes in last with just 6 members. The United States has its own shrine to all things Handball, you can find the USHA’s Hall of Fame in Tucson, Arizona.
There is another version of handball, the European or Team Handball and this is the version played at the Olympics. Teams consist of seven players, one a goalkeeper. The ball is bounced or thrown into the opposing team’s goal. Feet are off limits' it’s a hands only game.
Team handball has been around at least since 600 BCE, where a version of the popular game was found on a tomb in Athens. More likely, it’s been around since humans have had technology to make a ball and challenge friends. There is evidence that the modern version was started towards the end of the 1800’s in Germany. It was played indoors during the winter to keep soccer players fit. The rules were simple and followed the basic structure of a soccer game, the only exception was, you couldn’t use your feet to kick the ball.
Outdoor handball made just one appearance in the 1936 Olympic Games. It would not be reintroduced until the 1972 games. When it was reintroduced to the games it was the indoor version of handball. At that time indoor handball was played, competitively, throughout the world. Outdoor handball is a dwindling sport but a small group of British players are trying to keep the sport alive in a beach version.