Handball (also known as team handball, Olympic handball, European handball or Borden ball[ is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each (six outfield players and a goalkeeper) pass a ball to throw it into the goal of the other team. A standard match consists of two periods of 30 minutes, and the team with the most goals scored wins.
The game is quite fast and includes body contact as the defenders try to stop the attackers from approaching the goal. Contact is only allowed when the defensive player is completely in front of the offensive player; i.e., between the offensive player and the goal. Any contact from the side or especially from behind is considered dangerous and is usually met with penalties. When a defender successfully stops an attacking player (who loses the ball over a line), the play is stopped and restarted by the attacking team from the spot of the infraction or on the nine-meter line. Unlike in basketball, where players are allowed to commit only 5 fouls in a game (6 in the NBA), handball players are allowed an unlimited number of faults, which are considered good defense and disruptive to the attacking team’s rhythm. Certain elements of the game are reminiscent of rugby: for instance, the degree of force that defense may use to stop the attacker with the ball, together with the lack of protections and helmets.
Goals are scored quite frequently; usually both teams score at least 20 goals each, and it is not uncommon for both teams to score more than 30 goals. This was not true in the earliest history of the game, when the scores were lower. But, as offensive play has improved since the late 1980s, particularly the use of counter-attacks (fast breaks) after a failed attack from the other team, goal-scoring has increased.