Handball Court Dimensions: 40 m x 20 m International Basketball Court Dimensions: 28 m x 15 m U.S. Basketball Court Dimensions: 28.7 m x 15.2 m (94 ft x 50 ft)
A handball court is 6 meters longer at each end and 2.5 meters wider on each side. As a result of this difference, wing players in handball travel significantly greater distances than basketball players while other handball positions match more closely to basketball offense to defense transitions.
Also, note how the 6 meter arc abuts perfectly with the baseline of an international court. Whereas, with U.S. basketball court dimensions it’s off by roughly 1 foot on each baseline. It has been speculated that the international basketball court length was adjusted to fit evenly with the 6 meter lines to avoid extra lines on multi-use courts.
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.
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.
Palming the ball: In theory, the rules for dribbling are identical as there are no specific rules governing the motion that is to be used to direct the ball to the floor. In practice, however, “palming” or catching the ball while dribbling is more closely called in handball. Palming the ball results in a turnover.
Steps after dribbling: This situation applies after a player dribbling the ball takes his last dribble. While basketball allows 2 steps after dribbling handball allows 3 steps after dribbling. A handball player must shoot or pass the ball to a teammate before he takes his 4th step or it will result in a traveling violation.
Steps with no dribbling: This situation typically occurs when a player receives a pass, usually while moving. While basketball players can take two steps after receiving the pass, handball players can take three steps. Taking a 4th step will result in a traveling violation without.
Steps before dribbling: When a basketball player starts an offensive move (where he intends to dribble) that player must start dribbling before he takes his second step or he will be called for a travelling violation. A handball player, however, can take 3 steps before starting to dribble. (This arguably is the most significantly different travelling rule. In particular, more than one converted basketball player has been fooled by a handball player taking 3 steps, faking a jump shot, taking one dribble and then taking another 3 steps for a wide open shot.)
Double Dribbling: As with basketball, you can not dribble, then stop and hold the ball, and then start to dribble again. That is a double dribble and constitutes a turnover.
Jump stop: If a player jumps and lands with both feet at the same time, the landing only counts as one step.
Each time a foot touches the ground is counted as a step. Additionally, unlike basketball there is no pivot foot exception. In other words a player can keep one foot stationary and pivot around like a basketball player might, but each time a step is taken it counts as one of the player’s 3 steps.
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, another defender might also step in to help, but as the defense is spread out along the 6 meter line such help is less likely to arrive in time.