Unveiling Handball Penalty Rules: What You Need to Know

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 frenetic pace and tactical depth, is a sport that thrills spectators and players alike. However, like any sport, handball is governed by a set of rules that maintain fair play and sportsmanship. One of the key elements that can significantly influence a game’s outcome is penalties. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of handball penalty rules, ensuring clarity for players, coaches, and fans alike.

What is a Penalty in Handball?

In handball, a penalty, also referred to as a 7-meter throw, is awarded when a clear chance of scoring is illegally prevented anywhere on the court by an opponent. This rule ensures that scoring opportunities aren’t unfairly lost and helps maintain the sport’s competitiveness.

Situations that Warrant a Penalty

Several actions can lead to a penalty in handball, such as:

  1. Goalkeeper Crossing the Goal Area Line: If the goalkeeper crosses the goal area line (6-meter line) and interferes with an opponent’s clear chance of scoring, a penalty is awarded.
  2. Defensive Player Entering the Goal Area: If a defensive player steps into the goal area to stop a clear scoring opportunity, a penalty is awarded to the attacking team.
  3. Intentional Fouls: Any deliberate foul, such as hitting, pushing, or holding, that prevents a clear scoring opportunity, results in a penalty.
  4. Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Any act of unsportsmanlike conduct, such as deliberately wasting time, arguing with the referee, or aggressive behaviour, can also lead to a penalty.

Execution of a Penalty

Once a penalty is awarded, the game is briefly paused. The player taking the penalty stands behind the 7-meter line, facing the opponent’s goalkeeper. All other players must stay behind the free-throw line (9-meter line) and cannot interfere with the penalty throw.

The referee blows the whistle to signal the penalty taker to proceed. The taker must throw the ball within three seconds of the whistle, aiming to beat the goalkeeper and score a goal. The goalkeeper, standing within the goal area, attempts to save the shot but must keep one part of their foot on or above the goal area line until the ball has been thrown.

Disciplinary Measures Accompanying Penalties

Depending on the severity of the foul that led to the penalty, the referees may also award disciplinary actions against the offending player:

  1. Warning (Yellow Card): This is usually given for less severe offences or the player’s first offence. Each player can receive only one warning in a game.
  2. The suspension (2-minute Penalty): For more severe offences or repeated fouls, a player can be temporarily suspended and must leave the court for two minutes. The team cannot replace the suspended player during this time.
  3. Disqualification (Red Card): A player is sent off for particularly severe offences or after receiving three 2-minute suspensions. The player cannot participate any further in the game, and the team must play short-handed for two minutes before replacing the disqualified player.


Understanding the handball penalty rules is essential for all stakeholders of the game, as penalties can dramatically sway a game’s momentum and final score. While these rules might seem complex, they’re fundamental to ensuring fair play and maintaining handball’s strategic and exciting nature. As a player or a fan, being conversant with these rules will not only improve your understanding of the game but also enhance your enjoyment and appreciation for this fast-paced, thrilling sport.

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