Handball FAQ

FAQ – Basics

How long does a handball game last?
ANSWER: A regulation handball match consists of 2 30-minute halves separated by a 10-15 minute half time. The clock starts from 0:00 and counts up to 60:00. Each coach can request a 1-minute timeout each half. The clock normally is not stopped due to fouls etc, unless a player is injured. However, during the last minutes of the game, the referees will often call timeouts after fouls. This is done to prevent excessive stalling by the team with the lead.

How big is a handball court and what markings are on it?
ANSWER: The handball court is 40m x 20m. It is divided into 2 halves which are both 20m x 20m. The half line is denoted by a solid line. A dashed semi-circular dashed line with a radius of 9m from the goal line (the “9m line”, or free throw line) is used to take free throws. A solid semi-cricular line with a radius of 6m from the goal line is used to demarkate the goal area into which outfield players (on both teams) cannot enter. The exception to this rule is for an offensive player who starts his jumping throw outside the goal area but lands inside it, and he or she must then immediately exit the area without handling the ball. A short solid line 7m from the goal is where penalty shots are taken (aka “7m throws”), while an even shorter line 4m from the goal indicates how far from the goal line a goalie is allowed to move while defending a penalty shot.

How big is the ball in handball?
ANSWER: For men it has a circumference of 58-60 cm and a weight range of 425-475g (size 3).
For women it has a circumference of 54-56 cm and a weight range of 325-375g (size 2).  (For children smaller sizes are used.)
These balls are basically in between a volleyball and a softball in size, and are as hard as a fully inflated basketball! Players need to be able to hold (and sometimes catch) the ball with one hand. They apply a goop commonly referred to as “stickum” to their hands before and during the match to give them extra grip on the ball.

What are the offensive positions?
ANSWER: Most often teams set up with the following offense positions:
Left Wing: Quicker, shorter players. Jump into the 6m-zone to score.
Left Back: Tall and strong players. Use high jumps to shoot over the defenders.
Center Back: Playmaker.
Right Back: Tall and strong players. Use high jumps to shoot over the defenders
Right Wing: Quicker, shorter players. Jump into the 6m-zone to score.
Circle Runner: This player plays with his back to the goal along the 6 meter circle. (Note: This position is also referred to as a pivot or line player.) This is a physically tough position as the circle runner tries to muscle in between the defenders, who often line up on the 6m line with their backs to their own goal (see below). The pivot tries to block defenders and create spaces between them thereby opening up shooting lanes for the offense. If the defender then moves to block the attacking back, passing lanes to the unmarked pivot open up.

Thus, there are normally 6 court players and 1 goalie playing for each team. A common variant is to play with 2 circle runners. If a team is playing with 2 circle runners, the 4 remaining backs/wings shift their positions to balance the floor across the arc. Tactical moves include wing players acting as a second or even third pivot for just one drive in order to confuse the defense.

What are the defensive alignments commonly used?
ANSWER: Defensive alignments are commonly referred to by a numbering scheme which indicates how many defenders are playing close to the 6 meter line and how many defenders are playing 2-3 meters above the arc.

6-0 Defense: This is the basic defensive scheme, on which the other alignments are based. There are 2 variants:

The classic 6-0: Used by most teams in the 70s and the 80s. The 6 players move along the line (using side steps) along with the ball and remain rather passive, unless a defender needs to prevent his opponent from penetrating the defense or to block a shot.

The modern 6-0: Based on the classic version. However, along with the ball movement, defenders move forward to the 9m line to disturb their respective opponent. When the ball is passed along, the defender will move back again to the 6m line, while another defender moves forward to meet the new ball handler. As the ball moves from left to right and back again, the defense moves in a wave pattern to meet the threat. The modern 6-0 is widely used in handball, mostly by European teams that can rely on the height of their players to block shots by opposing backs.

5-1 Defense: In this defense, 5 defenders stay near the 6 meter arc, while one defender stays higher, usually near the 9 meter arc. Typically, this point defender is in the center and seeks to disrupt the backcourt offensive players

3-2-1 Defense: Similar to the 5-1 defense, except that the two players defending the left and right backcourt are also extended further from the 6 meter at typically 7.5 meters so they are more ready to defend against back court jumpshots. (i.e. 3 players are essentially on the 6 meter line, 2 players are at roughly 7.5 meters and 1 player is at 9 meteres; hence 3-2-1). As offensive players move from side to side, defenders will stay with the attacking offensive players longer than they would in a 6-0 defense. This is because the uneven level of the defense makes the transfer of responsibilty more challenging as there is more open space between the defenders. The advantage of this defense is that jumpshots at 9 or 10 meters are more closely defended. The disadvantage of this defense is that the openness of the defense makes it more prone for breakthroughs and it is also more physically demanding. This defense is often used by teams that are shorter and/or quicker than their opponents.

4-2 Defense: Similar to the 5-1 defense, except that two players stay at the 9m line, usually defending against the right and left back. Rarely used.

Marking: Similar to the 5-1 defense, except the point defender plays man to man against a specific player. This is similar to a “box-1″ defense in basketball and is usually done against a team in which one player is doing most of the scoring. In some instances, the marked player on offense will stand at about 12 meters and let his team play 5 on 5. The logic being that 5 on 5 is a significant advantage for the offense as each defensive player has more space around the arc to cover. Marking can also be done on 2 players with the result being similar to a 4-2.

Man-to-Man: A basketball style man-to-man defense, in which each defender is assigned a particular player to guard, is sometimes used as a last resort in the waning minutes of play during a close game.

Why is the Man-to-Man defense used so rarely?
ANSWER: The principal reason a man-to-man defense can be effective in basketball, but is extremely risky in Handball, is directly related to the locations of high percentage shots in both sports. In basketball there is only one spot for a very high percentage shot: immediately near the basket (i.e. a layup). In Handball, the entire 6 meter line with the exception of the extreme wings is the equivalent of a basketball layup. In basketball, a defender who is beaten can usually count on help from another defender to immediately step in between the offensive player and the basket. In handball, a defender can step in to help, but there is usually too much area on the 6 meter line for him to stop the breakthrough player.

How are points scored in handball?
ANSWER: One point is awarded to the offensive team each time the entire ball crosses their opponents’ goal line, regardles of where on the court the shot was taken. There is no “3 point line”, each goal is worth 1 point. Typical scores for each team at the end of a handball match are in the high 20′s or low 30′s, although scores in the 40′s are sometimes seen.

How are the rules for handball dribbling and traveling different from basketball?
ANSWER: Dribbling in handball can be nearly identical to basketball as there are no specific rules governing the motion that is to be used to direct the ball to the floor (in theory, players might dribble using their fists). However, dribbling requires the hand to touch the ball only at its upper half and “palming” or catching the ball while dribbling is a turnover and is more closely called than it is in basketball.The player with the ball may take up to 3 steps before shooting, passing or dribbling. After dribbling the ball (once or repeatedly) and holding it again, the player may take again 3 steps, but must then shoot or pass the ball to a teammate. Starting to dribble again after holding the ball (double dribble) constitutes a turnover. Each time a foot touches the ground is counted as a step (pivots/back turns etc are therefore not seen in Handball); exception: if a player jumps and lands with both feet at the same time, landing only counts as one step.

Can players kick the ball?
ANSWER: Players (other than the goalkeeper) are not allowed to touch the ball with their lower legs, including the knee.

How long can the player hold on to the ball before passing, shooting or dribbling?
ANSWER: Players are allowed to hold on to the ball only for 3 seconds before a turnover is called

What are the rules for the 6 meter goal area?
ANSWER: Only the defending goalkeeper is allowed to stay inside the 6m goal area (though any player may attempt to catch and touch the ball in the air within it, or jump into the area and throw the ball before landing). The goalie is allowed to use all body parts to stop the ball from entering the goal. Also, the restrictions for travelling with the ball do not apply to the goalie in his area. However, if he leaves the goal area, movement and dribbling rules apply as they would to any court player.

How are the rules for an offensive charge different from basketball?
ANSWER: The rules as to whether the defensive player has established position are similar, but the defensive player is given more leeway in handball. As a result, you’ll see offensive charging called more often in handball when compared to basketball.

What constitutes a defensive foul?
ANSWER: A defensive player may obstruct his opponent by using his body and/or arms. Strictly speaking, he is not allowed to strike, grab or tackle the opponent. However, as the usual penalty for frontal tackling or grabbing is just a free throw, defenders regularly try to stop the attacker by
- blocking/grabbing the attackers ball handling arm with one arm/hand while
- putting the other hand on the attackers hip/back and
- pulling the attacker against his own chest.
In order to keep the game flowing (thereby opening up holes in the defense) the attacker will try to evade this. For the same reason, referees usually do not interfere as long as the attacker is still able to pass the ball safely along to a teammate.

What is a “free throw” in handball?
ANSWER: The basic sanction to an infraction (foul, double dribble, etc.) in handball is a “free throw.” (Note: A “free throw” in handball is not analogous to a “free throw” in basketball. Rather it is analogous to a “free kick” in soccer.) Following the infraction, an opposing player will take up the ball at the place where the infraction took place and throw it to a team mate. He also can try to score directly. If time has expired for the half, the offensive player must try to score directly. Defensive players must keep a 3 meter distance. If the infraction also resulted in a yellow card or a suspension (see below), time resumes only after the referee whistles again. If an infraction committed by a defensive player happened within the 9 meter area, the free throw will take place at the point of the 9 meter line closest to the place of the infraction. Some free throw variants include offensive players creating a line that moves with their backs pointed towards the goal, blocking the defenders and giving their tallest player a pocket from which to try a jumpshot.

What does it take to get a two minute suspension?
ANSWER: In handball, punishments tend to be metered our progressively. Normally if a player commits a minor foul he or she will receive a warning from the referee in the form of being shown a yellow card, as in soccer. If a player repeatedly commits the same offense, a serious foul without a warning, or other sorts of misconduct then he or she will receive a 2-minute penalty. Just as in ice hockey, the penalized player must then leave the playing field (although there is no designated “penalty box”) for a full 2 minutes regardless of the number of goals scored by the team on the power play. Team officials such as coaches can also receive 2 minute suspensions; in these cases, a player who was on the court at the time of the infraction will serve the penalty and their team will be short handed for 2 minutes. If a player accumulates 3 2-minute suspensions in the same match he will be disqualified for the remainder of that match although the team will only be short handed for 2 minutes.

If the offensive team scores a goal while the defensive team is short handed, does the defensive team return to full strength?
ANSWER: No, that’s a rule in Ice Hockey, not handball. The defensive player does not return until the full two minutes have expired.

What does it take for a defensive foul to result in a penalty shot?
ANSWER: Illegally interfering with a clear goal scoring opportunity by a defensive player, such as by grabbing the shooting arm of the offensive player from the side or from behind, will result in a penalty shot. Much like in soccer, the shooter is “expected” to score.  Another common occurence is playing defense inside the 6 meters line.  This often takes place when a defender slides over to help.  As the defender tries to get in front of the advancing offensive player the defender loses track of the line and ends up defending inside the 6 meter line.

What is “passive play” and how is it called?
ANSWER: Handball prides itself on being a fast moving, high scoring game. There are situations, typically towards the end of a close match, where a team would like to just keep possession of the ball by passing it around amongst themselves. If, in the referee’s opinion, the team with the ball has not made a clear move to attack the opponent’s goal, he or she will raise their arm in the air indicating that if the team with the ball does not aggressively try to score, then possession will be turned over to the other team. Note that there is no specific time for which a team may keep possession without making a move on goal, calling “passive play” is entirely at the referee’s discretion. Typically referees will allow about 20-30 seconds of passing before warning that a passive play call is imminent. As it is the referee’s discretion, it is sometimes a point of controversy in that one team will claim that passive play is either being called too soon or too late.

How does player substitution work for Handball?
ANSWER: Much like in ice hockey, the players (including the goalie) are free to substitute on and off during the play always entering and exiting the court from the area near the half court line designated for substitutions. The new player cannot come on the court, however, until the departing player has exited the court entirely. Coming in too soon results in a 2 minute suspension. Many teams like to substitute 1 or 2 players for offensive/defensive purposes. These substitution patterns can easily be accomplished from defense to offense as the team on offense can slow play up a bit to make the substitution. The switch from offense to defense, however, cannot always be made because the time required for substituting could result in the offense having a man advantage.

What purpose does the small dot 3 meters from the 7 meter penalty shot line serve?
ANSWER: In case of a 7m penalty shot, the goalkeeper must stay between this dot and the goal.

Does it make a difference if a player is left or right handed?
ANSWER: The difference is most pronounced with respect to wing players, as the handedness reflects directly on the angle to goal: A left handed player playing right wing can swing his arm outward for a better angle shot, whereas a right handed player must take an awkward shot across his body. This is why a left handed player almost always plays right wing. Being left handed is also preferable for a right back, but as the position is closer to the center of the goal, the off-hand handicap is less pronounced. Some pivots are able to shoot with either hand. This makes it harder to defend against, as the defense never knows in which direction the pivot will turn.

Why don’t I ever see a player jump out of bounds to try and save a ball before it hits the ground?
ANSWER: Unlike basketball, the ball is out immediately after it crosses the sidelines and the baseline.  Essentially there is an imaginary plane above each line.  It is even possible for a wing player to accidentally put the ball out of play with a throwing motion if the player is not careful.

FAQ – General

How popular is Handball worldwide?
ANSWER: The answer to this question is open to debate and is highly dependent on how popularity is defined. As of February 2007, the IHF lists 159 member federations representing approx. 1,130,000 teams and a total of 31 million players, trainers, officials and referees. These numbers have to be taken into context, however, as some of these nations have negligible handball programs and what exactly constitutes a team in the 1,130,000 referenced teams is not defined. In particular, the oft quoted statement that Handball is the 2nd most popular sport in the world is of very questionable accuracy in light of basketball’s increasing popularity, particularly in China. See this article which further discusses sports popularity: http://teamhandball.blogspot.com/2005/07/just-how-popular-is-team-handball.html

Where is Handball popular in the world?
ANSWER: In general terms, the cradle of the sports popularity is in Europe, with Scandinavia, the Balkan countries, Russia, Germany, France, Spain being the countries where the sport has the greatest popularity. In several of those countries Handball is the 2nd most popular team sport after soccer. This color coded map of the world depicts the sport’s popularity world-wide: Coming soon

How is Handball organized world-wide?
ANSWER: Handball has a world-wide structure very similar to soccer’s FIFA and other international sports. The world-wide governing body is the International Handball Federation (IHF). The IHF is responsible for organizing the Olympic Handball tournament and World Championship competitions. Membership consists of 147 nations. The IHF’s administrative office is located in Basel, Switzerland. Regionally, Continental Federations have been established in Europe, Africa, Asia, Pan America and Oceania. These Continental Federations are independent of the IHF and are responsible for organizing regional competitions. Apart from National Team competitions, club leagues have been organized usually on a National Level. Many of these club leagues are professional/semi-professional, particularly in Europe. The IHF, Continental Federations, and club leagues are all independent of each other and this has resulted in conflicting interests from time to time over player availability and revenue streams for national team competitions.

How is Handball organized in Europe?
ANSWER: Without question, Europe is the continent where the sport is most popular and best organized. This previous article addresses Handball organization in Europe: http://teamhandballnews.com/content12.html Although, well organized, handball in Europe is not without it’s problems. These articles assess some of its shortcomings:
What’s wrong with European Handball (part 1): http://teamhandballnews.com/news134.html
What’s wrong with European Handball (part 2): http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.207

There are a lot of strange club names for teams in Europe.  What is the meaning behind those names?
ANSWER:  This wiki page identifies the meaning of several European clubs.  If you know some more feel free to contribute to the wiki:  http://teamhandball.wikispaces.com/Club+Names

How well is Handball organized and developed in other continents?
ANSWER: To varying degrees the other continental federations follow the European model. Here is a brief rundown on each continent and its level of organization:

Africa (CAHB): Africa is organized much like Europe, but there is a significant split in the level of organization between the North African Arabic nations and the Sub-Saharan nations. For men’s Handball, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria have National programs and club competitions that are comparable to Europe. With the exception of Angola, handball is less developed in Sub-Saharan Africa. As such Men’s competition is principally dominated by the North African countries. For women’s handball, the North African nations are not as structured and the dominant nation recently has been Angola.

Asia (AHF): Asian Handball has been rife with division between the Persian Gulf region and Japan/Korea. This most notably came to a head with the Olympic Qualification for the 2008 Olympics being adjudicated in court. In terms of Men’s programs, the Gulf states are probably the most organized with several nations having organized club leagues.
Asian Olympic Qualification Dispute Article: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.535

Pan-America (PATHF): Brazil is currently the most developed handball nation in North/South America and has dominated recent competitions. Brazil also has a fairly well established semi-professional league. Argentina also has a strong program as does Cuba, despite budget limitations.

Oceania (OHF): Oceania has only 5 member nations and competition has generally been dominated by Australia.

How did the teams qualify for the 2008 Olympics?
ANSWER: These two web pages show the path for qualification.
Men: http://www.teamhandballnews.com/page17.html
Women: http://teamhandballnews.com/page18.html

Where are the best professional leagues?
ANSWER: For Men’s Handball the top 2 professional leagues are the German Handball Bundesliga (HBL) and the Spanish Liga Asobal. Based on their combined domination of the Intra-European Champions League competition few would argue with their superiority over the other European National Leagues. Additionally, with only a few notable exceptions, the top National Team players playing at the Olympics play for clubs in those two leagues. As to which of the two leagues is better there is considerable debate. In recent years head to head competition in the Champions League has been a wash. Behind these two leagues the top divisions in France, Denmark and Hungary are also competitive.For Women’s Handball, Denmark is widely regarded as having the best professional league.

How much do professional handball players earn?
ANSWER: This previous article attempts to extrapolate the salaries of players in Europe: http://teamhandballnews.com/news333.html

FAQ – USA

Most of the world simply identifies Handball as Handball, so why does the United States call the sport Team Handball?
ANSWER: Because another sport is also called Handball in the United States. This Handball uses a small rubber ball and is a 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 game that involves players slapping the ball with their hands off a wall. This “wall handball” is played throughout the United States and has a much higher name recognition than the Handball played in Europe and other parts of the world. Referring to Handball as simply Handball in the United States inevitably leads to confusion. To distinguish the sport from “Wall Handball” the name Team Handball was adopted. Wall Handball is also played in other parts of the world including Ireland and Canada. To differentiate the sports in those countries, Handball is often referred to as Olympic Handball in Ireland and in Anglophone Canada the sport is sometimes called European Team Handball (ETH).

Wikipedia article on Wall Handball: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_handball
Wikipedia disambiguation discussion on Handball: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Handball_%28disambiguation%29 (Semantic problems are also difficult for Wikipedia to solve)

What is the popularity of handball in the United States?
ANSWER: Handball is a very minor sport in the US. There are approximately 20 – 40 club teams in the United States of widely varying organization. A small number of clubs (perhaps 10) practice 1 or 2 times a week and participate in weekend tournaments. A greater number of clubs practice more sporadically, but still play in tournaments. Handball is rarely shown on TV in the USA and the only significant coverage has been during the Olympic Games.

What percentage of Americans are familiar with the sport of handball in the US?
ANSWER: A small percentage for sure and it would be interesting to conduct a nationwide poll as to what level of name recognition the sport has. Such a poll, however, would have to take into account the problems with the sports conflicting name with “wall handball” An educated guess is that only about 5% of Americans even knows that the sport exists.

What impact has the name confusion for Handball/Team Handball had on the sports development in the US?
ANSWER: A huge, negative impact. Development of any new sport can be challenging, but the additional semantic challenge Team Handball has due to simply having the same name as an unrelated sport has added another layer of difficulty. While a semantic issue might not seem significant at first, the fact that virtually everyone in the US who is introduced to the sport, must first be explained what the sport is and that it is not the Handball they think it is a difficult hurdle to cross. In the USA, the sport is often described as “soccer with your hands” or “water polo without water” or “lacrosse without sticks” to help newcomers visualize the sport. Still even with these descriptions many still can not conceptualize the sport because the vision of a little ball being slapped off a wall is too engrained into their brain.

Are there any professional clubs in the United States?
ANSWER: No. All teams are amateur. All players are usually expected to contribute funds to the club for gym rental and equipment. Additionally, players are usually responsible for their own travel costs to attend tournaments. Clubs affiliated with a college or school sometimes receive funding to help offset costs. Additionally, the coach might receive a small stipend.

Are there any ongoing plans to bring professional Handball to the United States?

ANSWER: Yes, the creation of a professional summer league has been proposed: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.528
Additionally, the French Handball League is scheduled to bring the “Final Four” of their league’s cup tournament to Miami in 2009. This attempted outreach is similar in many ways to the NBA and the NFL‘s exporting of matches to Europe: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.529

How is Handball organized in the Unites States?
ANSWER: USA Team Handball is the National Governing Body (NGB) for Handball in the United States and is responsible for the sports development and the organization of it’s National Teams. USA Team Handball receives funding and administrative support from the US Olympic Committee, but it is an independent organization. It is also important to note, that USA Team Handball was only recently certified by the USOC in May of 2008, after a tumultuous 2 years that saw the decertification of the previous Federation. For more information check out the USA Team Handball webpage: www.usateamhandball.org

How is club competition organized in the United States?
ANSWER: Competition has been mainly restricted to participation in weekend tournaments. Weekend tournaments vary in size and format, but as the name implies, the competition generally consists of a lot of games over a 2 or 3 day weekend. Depending on the format of the tournament games may be shortened to 2×20 minute halves to allow for more games in a time constricted weekend. Often a tournament will consist of two pools of 3 to 4 teams, with the top two teams from each pool advancing to a semifinal crossover, with the winners advancing to the final. Currently, there are no organized leagues in the United States. A number of reasons can be attributed to this shortcoming, but the biggest factors are the small number of clubs and the geographical distances separating them which makes frequent travel for games expensive.

How are the National Champions determined in the United States?
ANSWER: A 3 day weekend open club tournament organized by the National Federation is held in the spring of each year, usually in late April. Teams are usually split into an Elite, 1st Division and 2nd Division, but the format has varied from year to year. Depending on the number of clubs there are 1 or 2 Women’s Divisions. For the past several years there has also been a separate collegiate championship conducted on a separate weekend at a different location.

How are US National Team programs organized?
ANSWER: Currently, there are no active US National Teams. Until recently, the US Men were practicing in the Atlanta area on a part time basis. In the past the US has had resident National Team programs that trained full time. As the US had only a limited number of youth players, the full time program was generally used to convert athletes from other sports into handball players. For several years there had been no Men’s program and the Women’s program which had been training in Cortland, NY was stopped after the Women failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

Where is Handball played in the USA?
ANSWER: This Google Map shows where clubs are located and where people are interested in starting a new club.
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=103598029638506187982.000440c7641749acb6497

Has the USA previously competed in Handball at the Olympics?
ANSWER: Yes. The men participated in the 1972, 1976, 1984, 1988 and 1996 Olympics. The Women participated in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996

What is the USA W-T-L record in Olympic Competition?
ANSWER:

Men
1972 1-0-4 (14th out of 16 teams)
1976 0-0-5 (10th out of 11 teams)
1984 1-1-4 (9th out of 12 teams)
1988 0-0-6 (12th out of 12 teams)
1996 2-0-4 (9th out of 12 teams)
Overall: 4-1-23

Women
1984 2-0-3 (5th out of 6 teams)
1988 1-0-4 (7th out of 8 teams)
1992 1-0-3 (6th out of 8 teams)
1996 0-0-4 (8th out of 8 teams)
Overall: 4-0-14

Source: http://www.ihf.info/upload/matchresuts/SReihe_Olympic_Games.pdf

How did the USA fare in qualification matches for the 2008 Olympics?
ANSWER: The two paths for qualification to the Olympic Games were through the 2007 World Championships or the 2007 Pan American Games. Both the Men’s and Women’s teams failed to qualify for either of those events. The Men lost to Canada and then to Chile in PANAM Games qualification. The Women lost to Canada, and then Mexico and Chile.

Has the USA ever been competitive in International play?
ANSWER: The USA has been more competitive in the past, with the high water mark probably being the 1984 Olympic Games. The Men’s team placed 9th, but lost by no more than 3 goals in their 6 matches. The Women’s team placed 5th, but would have won a bronze medal, if they could have turned a 1 goal loss to Germany into a victory in the pool play competition. Both National Teams continued to have a measure of respectability for the rest of the 1980’s through the 1996 Olympic Games, occasionally garnering victories in Friendly competitions like the Goodwill Games against European competition. In World Championship and Olympic competition the USA has repeatedly come up short. In particular, the USA men, have the dubious distinction of an 0-0-25 record in World Championship competition. Following the 1996 games, International competitiveness dropped dramatically with losses of 20 or more goals against the top teams becoming commonplace.

Why has the USA become less competitive and failed to qualify for recent Olympics?

ANSWER: 3 basic factors can be attributed to this decline and poor performance.
1) USA athletes often first start playing the game in their early 20’s after their career in other sports have ended. While a simple game in principle, mastering the finer techniques of the game can take years. The USA has always been at a technical disadvantage against top sides.
2) The National Teams have been less successful in recruiting top, natural athletes since the 1996 Olympics. This is, of course, an opinion, but most long term observers of USA Team Handball would generally agree with this statement.
3) Other nations in the Pan-American region have improved their programs substantially. Brazil, and to a lesser extent, Argentina, have dramatically improved their programs from top to bottom. In the 80’s and 90’s a team of great, raw athletes could be recruited, assembled, taught the game and have a reasonable expectation that they could beat the other Pan-American Teams that used the same model. As recent results would attest, this is no longer possible.

What is the qualification path for the 2012 London Olympics?
ANSWER: As with 2008, the USA can qualify either through placement at the 2011 World Championships or the 2011 Pan American Games. Historically, though, the only way the USA (or any other Pan-American nation) has qualified for the Olympics has been by winning the Gold Medal at the Pan American Games (a guaranteed Olympic spot). The 2011 Pan American Game are scheduled to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico

Why hasn’t USA Team Handball simply copied the successful sport development plans of (soccer, lacrosse, etc)?
ANSWER: This earlier article assesses why these analogies may or may not support the development of Team Handball in the United States: http://teamhandballnews.com/news64.html

What are the current development plans of USA Team Handball?
ANSWER: The new USA Federation envisions a broad development program focused on regional development. For more information check out the USA Team Handball website www.usateamhandball.org

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