The duration of a handball game

The duration of a handball game

Handball is a sport that opposes two teams of seven players (six players plus a goalkeeper). It is a sport in which two teams of seven people each aim to move a ball with their hands towards the opposing team’s goal.

The team that scores the most goals is the winner. This game is usually played indoors, although there are some variations that also allow it to be played outdoors.

Here is some additional information concerning the practice of this sport, in particular the duration of a game.


The normal duration and rules of a handball match

A handball match consists of two halves of 30 minutes each. Each team has seven players: a goalkeeper and six outfield players. It is a very popular sport in Europe and Latin America. You could say it looks a lot like a football game but is played with the hands. In addition, handball equipment also has some specificities.

Outfield players may use any part of their body above the knee to touch the ball. Once a player takes possession of the ball, he or she can pass, keep possession, or shoot.

If a player has possession, he or she can dribble or take three steps without dribbling for up to three seconds. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ground in the goal area. Goalkeepers are allowed to leave the goal area but must not maintain control if they do.

In the youth category (12 to 16 years old), a handball match lasts twice 25 minutes, while for the 8 to 12 year old category, it lasts twice 20 minutes.

Also read: How long is a rugby match?

Additional time in a handball game

If there is no winner at the end of regulation time, an additional time of 10 minutes is granted. It is also divided into two parts of 5 minutes each.

Downtime must also be taken into account. Each time a foul is committed, the referee stops time. This is why the match can be extended beyond 60 minutes. It is estimated that a handball match can last up to 1h30 in its entirety.


A duration adapted to the rules of handball

Handball originated in Germany. It is the youngest sport among all those played with a ball. As in other sports, the player must comply with a few basic rules in accordance with the time limit:

  • No use of feet: field players play without touching the ball with their feet even if the goalkeeper can escape this rule.
  • End zone: Only the goalkeeper can be in the end zone. Indeed, if another player enters it, he can be penalized: Faults can vary depending on how the player enters the goal area.
  • Possession of the ball: Each player can only have the maximum ball for 3 seconds.
  • The number of steps: each player can take a maximum of 3 steps with the ball in hand.


The duration of handball matches depends on two factors, namely the categories and the circumstances. Depending on the category, you will find children, young people and adults. Depending on the circumstances, you will have additional times which are integrated into the game. But overall, a handball game cannot exceed 1h30 min. In a game of handball you can use any part of the body except the feet. You can even use legs and knees.

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