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Officiating in Team Handball

Page history last edited by Jennifer Simpson 11 years, 8 months ago


First Author: Jennifer S



WHISTLES!                                                 HAND SIGNALS!



*Too many steps or holding the ball for more than 3 seconds. 


  • All games are monitored by two referees with equal authority.  A timekeeper and a scorekeeper are also present to assist the referees. [1]


  • From the moment players enter the premises until they leave, their conduct is monitored by the referees.


  • It is the responsibility of the referees to inspect the playing court, the goals, and the balls before beginning a game.  It is their decision to decide which balls to use. 
    • It is also the duty of the referees to establish that both teams are present in proper uniform.  They must check the score sheet and equipment of all the players as well.  Also, they are to make sure that the number of players and officials in the substitution area is within the limits.  The referees must establish the presence and the identity of the "responsible team official" for each team, too.


  • One of the referees conducts the coin toss with the other referee and the "responsible team official" for each team all present.  In place of the "responsible team official," a different team official or player can be present on his/her behalf.


  • The whole game should be conducted by the same referees in theory, and it is their responsibility to to make sure that the game is being played in line with the rules.  If the situation permits, referees must penalize infractions to these rules.  In the case that one referee becomes unable to finish officiating the game, the other referee must continue to monitor the game alone.  (For IHF and continental events, this circumstance would be handled in compliance with the applicable regulations.)


  • If both referees blow a whistle for a penalty, agree about which team should be penalized, but disagree about the severity of the punishment, then the punishment that will be given is the most severe of the two.


  • In the case that both referees whistle for a violation or a ball leaving the court and have different opinions about which team should have possession, then the referees must make a joint decision after consulting one another to apply to the possession.  If they fail to reach a joint decision, then the court referee's opinion will overrule and apply.  A time-out is mandatory.[2]  After the referees have consulted each other, they are to give clear hand signals and restart the game after a whistle signal.


  • It is the responsibility of both referees to keep the score.  They are to also take notes about warnings, suspensions, disqualifications, and exclusions.


  • Another responsibility of both referees is to control the playing time.  In the event that there is doubt about the accuracy of the timekeeping, the referees shall reach a joint decision.


  • It is also the responsibility of the referees to know the appropriate hand signals used to indicate when an infraction has taken place.  Some examples of hand signals and when there are to be used are shown below, as well as the example at the top of this page:



                    *Illegal Dribble                                                       *Offensive Foul                                                       *Goal


  1. http://usateamhandball.org.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/International%20Handball%20Federation.pdf
  2. http://www.ihf.info/upload/Refereeing/rulesdecision_e.pdf

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