Sun, sea, sand and spectacular goals: Everything you need to know about beach handball

With the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018 set to include beach handball events for men and women, takes a closer look at this increasingly popular game

Picture by Getty Images

What is it?

Beach handball is an outdoor version of handball that is played on sand. It was developed in Italy in the early 1990s and was officially recognised by the International Handball Federation in 1994.

Who can play?

While indoor handball features seven players per side (six outfield and one goalkeeper), beach handball teams feature only four players (three outfield and one goalkeeper). Teams can continuously rotate with the additional four substitutes, as many times as they like.

How long do matches last?

Beach handball matches are shorter than those indoors, with matches consisting of two 10-minute periods, as opposed to two periods of 30 minutes.

Getty Images

Where do you play?

Matches take place on sand courts that are far smaller than their indoor equivalents, measuring just 27 by 12 metres (instead of 40 by 20 metres), meaning the action is even faster!

How do you score?

As in indoor handball, the aim of the game is to score goals by putting the ball into the net. However, in beach handball there is a variation for an additional point for “spectacular” goals – such as spin shots, in-flight throws, long-range efforts or those by a goalkeeper – which are worth two points, adding for extra excitement to this fast-paced game!

Getty Images

How do you win?

Unlike indoor handball, where the team with the most goals during both periods is declared the winner, each period in beach handball needs a winner. If scores are tied after a period, teams play “golden goal”, with the first team to score a goal winning the set. If each team wins one set after both periods have been played, then the match enters a shootout. Here, a goalkeeper will throw the ball to one of their teammates, who will then attempt to score one-on-one against the opposing goalkeeper. Each team has five attempts to determine the winner.

Who are the stars?

Since the first World Championships were held in 2004, Brazil has won four men’s titles and three women’s titles, but the current reigning champions are Croatia (men) and Spain (women). The first IHF Under-17 World Championships were held in Mauritius in July this year, with Spain winning the men’s event and Hungary claiming the women’s crown. The event also served as the qualification event for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

Getty Images