Beach handball – a team sport similar to standard handball but played on sand and with a few different rules is one of the sports which attract the interest in latest years. In some countries, beach handball players are more successful than indoor handball players while in others, handball players play both indoor and beach handball. Before every beach handball season, there’s a certain hype about it that is familiar to those who are a part of this sunny world. Let us introduce you to the beach handball so you can see what’s the hype about.
History of the sport
On the beaches of Italy, at the end of the 1980s beach volleyball was a very popular sport that served as an inspiration for the handball players to start thinking about beach handball. In 1990 Italian coach Luciano Bartolini begin to work on the first set of rules for the game and developed a concept for a quick and spectacular game with a goalkeeper and three court players per team, as well as a substitution area in the full length of the court. In 1992 in Misano Adriatico, a first demonstration match was held, and months later Ponza was the venue for the first-ever official beach handball tournament where new rules were presented. It took almost 10 years until the young game of beach handball became an official EHF sport when in 2000 in Italy the first EHF Beach Handball European Championship was organized.
Following the rapid development of the sport, even beyond the borders of Europe, alongside the passionate community behind it, the hopes are that beach handball will one day become an Olympic sport. The sport was officially presented to the members of the IOC in Lausanne in 2015, and it already made its debut at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. IHF submitted a formal request to include it at the 2024 Olympic games, but it was not granted. The IHF is now working on including it at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028.
Rules of the game
The Philosophy of beach handball is based on the principles of “fair play” and the game is played according to the main principle and other rules that are different yet similar to the indoor handball. The main difference is the playing court which, in beach handball, is 27 meters long and 12 meters wide and with the sand substrate. The court is marked with lines that represent the boundaries. There is one imaginary central line that divides the court into two halves and is the exact position for the referee throw. One referee throws the ball vertically following a whistle signal from the second referee. All players must remain at least three meters away from the referee while the referee’s throw is being taken, except one player from each team who is jumping for the ball to determine which team will take the first offence.
The game consists of two periods and each last 10 minutes. The winner of each period is awarded one point. If each team wins a period, the result is a tie and since there must always be a winner, the shoot-out (penalties in indoor handball) is used. Five players who are eligible to play take throws alternating with the opposing team. If the goalkeeper is one of the throwers, he counts as a court player when he takes his throw. The winner is the team that has scored more points after five throws. If the outcome has not been decided after the first round, the shoot-out is continued. If the score is even at the end of a period, the “Golden Goal” method is used which means the winner is the team that scores the first goal. A goal is scored when the entire ball has crossed the full width of the goal line. Creative or spectacular goals are awarded two points (e.g., spin shots). There are also 6-meter throws, goals scored by the goalkeeper which are also worth two points.
In beach handball tournaments are organized for male, female and mixed teams which consist of up to 10 players. A maximum of four players per team (three court players and one goalkeeper) may be on the playing court. The remaining players are substitutes who remain in their own substitution area. During the match, each team must have one player designated as a goalkeeper. That player can at any time take on the role of the court player. Likewise, the court player can take over the function of the goalkeeper. A team is allowed to use a maximum of four team officials, but only two of them may remain in the substitution area. The other two are placed outside of the safety zone.
The above-mentioned rules are just a preview. Full beach handball rules can be seen here.
Competitions in beach handball are divided into club and national team competitions, both in the men’s and women’s categories. Under the administration of EHF, in club competition, there is European Beach Handball Tour (ebt) and Beach Handball Champions Cup. On a national team level, EHF organizes the Beach Handball EURO for senior teams and YAC Beach Handball EURO for younger categories. This year European competitions will take place in Prague, the Czech Republic from 7 to 10 July 2022. On a national team level, there are also word championships under the administration of IHF. The 2022 IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships will be played in Heraklion, Greece in June. The World Games, also under the administration of IHF, will take place in Birmingham, USA in July. When talking about regional beach handball competitions except for European, there are Asian Beach Handball Championship, Oceania Beach Handball Championship, and Pan American Beach Handball Championship. Every continent has its own competitions which serve as qualifying tournaments for the World Championships.
Many competitions and so many teams, but only a few deserve the title “best of the best”. In beach handball, some of the most successful teams are Brazil, Croatia, Russia, Spain, and Norway.
Now that you learned a few rules, competitions, and best teams of beach handball, don’t miss the upcoming action on hot sandy beach handball courts this summer.
Upcoming ebt tournaments:
28 April – 1 May 2022: Jarun Cup 2022, Croatia
26 May – 29 May 2022: Camelot Beach Tournament, Netherlands
3 June – 5 June 2022: NESEBAR BEACH CUP, Bulgaria
3 June – 5 June 2022: Wasserschloss Beachhandball Cup Aarau, Switzerland
10 June – 12 June 2022: Novi Sad 2022, Serbia
17 June – 19 June 2022: EBT Ajaccio, France
18 June – 19 June 2022: Copaca-Bale Open, Switzerland
18 June – 19 June 2022: Aldner Beach Days 2022, Germany
1 July – 3 July 2022: LACANAU BEACH HANDBALL XPERIENCE, France
1 July – 3 July 2022: Damp Beach Open 2022, Germany