Understanding the Structure of a Handball Team

Written By Robert

Handball isn’t just a sport; it’s a showcase of human ability and the power of teamwork. 

Handball, known for its high-speed action and thrilling gameplay, is more than meets the eye. Beneath the surface, a complex and strategic team structure forms the backbone of every successful handball team. In this article, we’ll unravel the different positions and roles within a handball team structure, enhancing your appreciation of this fascinating sport.

The Basics

A handball team comprises seven players on the court at any given time, including a goalkeeper and six outfield players. The team structure can be divided into three main categories – goalkeepers, backcourt players, and frontcourt players. Each player has a distinct role and responsibilities.


The goalkeeper is the last line of defence and arguably one of the most critical roles on the handball team. They must prevent the opposing team from scoring by blocking or saving shots on goal. Goalkeepers need sharp reflexes, agility, and a good understanding of opposing players’ tactics.

Backcourt Players

The backcourt players are usually the primary attacking force and include left and right backcourt players and a centre backcourt player.

Left and Right Backcourt Players:

These players are often the team’s primary shooters. Their role involves creating opportunities to shoot on goal and disrupting the opposing team’s defensive structure. They should have a strong throwing arm and be good at aiming.

Center Backcourt Player:

Also known as the playmaker, the centre backcourt player is often the team’s tactical brain. They coordinate the team’s offensive manoeuvres, deciding when and how the team should attack. A good playmaker needs an understanding of the game, tactical awareness, and excellent passing skills.

Frontcourt Players

The frontcourt players comprise two wing players and a pivot.

Wing Players:

Positioned on the far left and right of the court, wing players are typically the fastest members of the team. They exploit the flanks to receive passes and make quick drives towards the goal. They require speed, agility, and accuracy in shooting from tight angles.


The pivot plays a central role in both offence and defence. In attack, they disrupt the opponent’s defence and create space for other players. In defence, they block shots and attempt to intercept passes. Pivots need strength, tactical intelligence, and good ball-handling skills.


Handball is a high-intensity game, and substitutions are common. Teams can substitute players an unlimited number of times during a match, allowing for a dynamic game where roles can quickly change according to the team’s needs.


The structure of a handball team is a blend of various roles, each with its unique responsibilities and requirements. Understanding these roles enriches your viewing experience and appreciation for the sport.

How many players are there in a handball team?

A handball team consists of 7 players on the court at any given time – one goalkeeper and six outfield players.

What is the role of a pivot in handball?

The pivot in handball plays a crucial role in both offence and defence. They disrupt the opponent’s defence, create space for other players, block shots, and attempt to intercept passes.

How many substitutions are allowed in handball?

In handball, teams can make an unlimited number of substitutions during a match.

What are the primary responsibilities of backcourt players?

Backcourt players in handball are usually the primary attacking force. They create shooting opportunities and disrupt the opposing team’s defensive structure.

Who is the tactical brain in a handball team?

The centre backcourt player, also known as the playmaker, is often considered the tactical brain of a handball team. They coordinate the team’s offensive manoeuvres.

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