Team Handball: A break from the traditional sports

Each year in Boys Physical Education, I introduce students to “non-traditional” sports in an effort to expand their skill set and expose them to something new. I enjoy teaching units like this because the students usually start at a similar level. This means that we spend a lot of time on skill acquisition and tactics so we can play quality competitive games. Team Handball uses a lot of familiar skills so the focus in this unit tends to shift quickly towards teamwork and tactics.  

Next week I will be introducing my classes to Team Handball. Team Handball originated in Europe in the1900s. It first appeared in the Olympics in the 1936 Berlin Games as an outdoor sport, with 11 players on a side. It was not played again at the Olympic games until 1972, where it was played indoors with 7 players on each side. Women’s handball was added to the Olympic Games in 1976.

Team Handball uses a ball that is about 23 inches in circumference, so it can be gripped in one hand. Using elements of soccer, hockey, and basketball; six players move the ball down a floor that is larger than a basketball court and try to score a point by throwing the ball past a goalkeeper into a goal. A player can move the ball by dribbling it, as in basketball; by hitting it with any part of the body above the knee; or by throwing it. However, players may not hold the ball for more than three seconds or three steps without dribbling.

The main skills required for Team Handball are throwing, catching, and dribbling. This is not a new skill set for our students, but they are quickly humbled by a sport that requires accuracy, patience, and teamwork to be successful. Lessons in this unit revolve around teamwork. Working together to play defense can easily stop an individual attempting to power through to goal. Patience and accurate passing on offense will create holes in the defense, providing scoring opportunities.

It is rewarding to teach sports that are outside of the traditional sports played in our corner of the world. I get to see students acquire new skills, discover a new activity that they enjoy, and gain a new respect for a sport that is played professionally around the world.

The Olympic games will be played in Japan this summer. I am confident that my students will understand and appreciate Team Handball if they catch a match. My hope is that they will enjoy watching it, as well.

Andy Stout,
Physical Education Teacher