Handball Rules

Last updated: March 26, 2024

•• Rules For All Sports: To be eligible for playoffs, participants must play in at least 3 regular season games for their team. The purpose of the League Rep(s) are not to referee the games. Team captains and their teams are expected to referee their own games accordingly and responsibly. League Rep(s) will step-in to make important calls and clarify rules at their own discretion. If issues arise, team captains are asked to speak with the League Rep(s). No players except for captains should approach the League Rep(s) with issues. ••


  1. Teams are advised to be at the courts 10 minutes before the game.
  2. A match will consist of two 25-minute halves with a 5-minute break between halves.
  3. Teams are comprised of 6 players (1 goalie and 5 players) with a minimum of 2 players of each gender on the floor at all times. A female goalie does count against this ratio.
  4. At minimum, a team must field at least 4 players. If only 1 female player is present, the team must play with one less player; if NO female players are present, the team will automatically forfeit the game.


  1. Handball must be held in the hand. Kicking of any kind is not allowed.
  2. The ball may only be held for a maximum of 5 seconds. If the ball is held longer — as counted aloud — it will be given to the other team.
  3. A maximum of 3 steps is allowed; additional steps result in immediate stoppage of play and turnover the ball to the opposing team. The only exception to this rule is for the goalie inside the crease. The goalie can take unlimited steps within the crease but must adhere to the same 5-second rule to release the ball.
  4. The ball must completely cross the goal line inside the net for it to count as a score.
  5. A dropped ball results in a change of possession where the infraction occurred. The defensive team player must be at least 5 feet away from the player restarting play, where the infraction occurred.
  6. If a defensive player intercepts or hits the ball away in mid-air, the play restarts from the point of contact between the defensive player and the ball, and NOT where the ball lands or stops. If the defensive player knocks the ball out of bounds, the play is still considered a turnover with the defensive player’s team now in possession. In that scenario, the play will also restart from the point of contact and not from the sidelines. 
  7. Substitutions can be made on the fly, except for the goalie where there must be a stoppage in play and the opponent does not have control of the ball.
  8. In the event of a shot attempt, the ball may contact the ground within the designated crease. For example, bounce shots are allowed. However, if the ball hits the ground outside the crease or one tries to pass to their teammate by bouncing it, the ball will be turned over to the team which didn’t previously hold possession (Refer to Rule B5). If the goalie makes a save and the ball rolls or bounces outside the crease while remaining in play, the ball is still live. Players are allowed to grab the rebound; but may only do so if both their feet are outside the crease — hands or any other body part may not contact the ground inside the crease either.


  1. No contact between players is allowed. Players MUST do their best to avoid contact. No swiping, hitting, or grabbing at the opposing player or the ball they are holding. When defending, players are only allowed to guard with hands up or out.
    • Players on offence may not charge through or initiate any contact with a defending player, one who is standing between the offending player and the net, which includes contact with any part of the defender and their outstretched arms. If charging or illegal contact is made, the defending team will be rewarded the ball where the infraction occurred. If a goal is scored, it will not count.
    • Players on defence must be in position and may not initiate contact by reaching in to prevent a shot or intentionally /  inadvertently causing physical contact. If illegal contact is made, the offensive team will obtain the ball at half court. However, if a goal is scored, it will be counted and play will continue as is. “In position” is defined as a defensive player and their wingspan being aligned between the net and the offensive player.
    • In the event where a play is too close to call or an agreement can not be made regarding infractions and contact initiations, then the play / sequence stands as is.
  1. Female players may jump into the crease only if they are in possession of the ball, attempting a shot, and can avoid any contact with opposing defenders or the goalkeeper. The female player must also let go of the ball before ANY part of their body touches the ground.
  2. Male players must not step on the line or jump into the crease in the process of a throw or on the follow-through (you must stop moving before you enter the crease).
  3. If the offensive player has the ball and their foot touches the line of the designated crease, it is considered a violation and the ball goes to the defensive team.
  4. If the offensive player does not have the ball, they must leave the crease immediately or be at risk of being penalized, resulting in a change of possession given to the defending team. 
  5. No diving for the ball along the floor.
  6. A player on defence may only have at most one foot in the crease, while the other foot is outside the crease (the outside foot must be touching the ground). Not doing so — while in a position that interferes with the opponent taking a shot — will result in a penalty shot for the offensive team. A penalty shot is taken from the top of the crease without any run-up (cannot enter the crease on the follow-through) – it must also be taken by the offensive player involved in the play. Goalkeeper must remain on the goal line as the shot is being taken.
    1. In the event of a rebound, the defending player must have two feet outside of the crease in order to grab the ball.
  7. Running through the crease is ONLY permitted to get to the other side whether offensively or defensively; however, a player cannot interfere with an attempted shot while in the crease — whether on offence or defence. This also includes if an offensive player screens or distracts the goalie, or is running through the crease prior to or during an attempted shot. If deemed to have done so, the ball goes to the opposing team. If a defensive player enters their own crease to take possession of the ball after a rebound, the offensive team gets possession at half court. If the offensive player enters the defending crease to take possession of a loose ball, the ball goes to the defending goalie.
  8. A player may not pass to themself off the wall or through the air.
  9. Balls that are out of play on the sidelines (basketball lines at VCS Upper and Moscrop) will result in the defensive team gaining possession where the ball went out except when:
    • the ball goes off the defensive goalie after a shot; offense retains possession where the ball went out.
    • a defensive player blocks a pass and knocks the ball goes out of play; defense gains possession where the defensive player makes contact with the ball. 


  1. One goalkeeper is allowed per team. This player is allowed to block shots while in the crease. They may leave the crease as they please, but only ONE player is allowed in the crease at all times.
    • Teams are allowed to switch goalkeepers ONLY during stoppage in play
  2. Upon giving up a goal, the goalie can put the ball into play immediately. However, the team must pass the ball at least once before the half line. Not doing so results in loss of possession. The goalie is allowed to throw the length of the court on any other play that was not preceded with a goal against.
  3. Goalies may not wear protective gear that will amplify their goalkeeping ability, such as hockey pads, gloves, or blocker gloves. Gears such as knee-pads and goggles are allowed.
  4. Balls that are out of play on the end lines will a) result in goalie’s possession if it goes off the offensive team, or b) a corner throw-in if it goes off the defensive team. The exception is if the ball goes off the goalie and out of play on the end lines while making a save; in this case, the possession always goes to the goalie.
  5. The crease size is the 3-point line on either end of the gym.