Summer Olympics Handball: 10 Terms Every Fan Should Know

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Per the official website of the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games, the handball events will take place between Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, Aug. 12. Both the men's and women's handball competitions will consist of 12 teams who will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Each squad is made up of 14 athletes, seven of which will be on the court at any one time.

The Telegraph asserts that Olympic handball is a cross between basketball and soccer, which is an apt description. Per the London Olympics' website, players move the ball up and down a court for "two 30-minute halves" with the intent of getting the ball past the opposing team's goalie. Unlike in soccer, athletes cannot touch the ball with their feet; they must either dribble the ball with their hands or pass it to a teammate in order to move it down the court.

People who are new to the sport should find these 10 definitions helpful. Unless otherwise noted, the information comes from the 2012 London Olympics' website.

Two-Minute Suspension: A player who commits an egregious foul or receives two warnings may be removed from the court for two minutes. Per International Handball Federation (IHF) rules, he or she cannot be replaced; the team must play a person down for those two minutes.

Penalty Throw: A penalty throw is awarded when a team's defense has illegally interfered with "a clear goal-scoring chance" by the opposing squad. The player taking the penalty shot stands seven meters (22.97 feet) from the goalpost and has "a … shot at goal defended only by the goalkeeper."

Goalkeeper Restraining Line: Per the IHF, the line is set four meters (13.12 feet) in front of the goal. The goalie cannot cross this line during a penalty throw until the ball has left the thrower's hand.

Pivot: If an offensive player stays mainly within the opponent's goal line area, he or she is referred to as a pivot.

Throw-Off: The term refers to "a throw from the centre [sic] line, which restarts play at the beginning of each period and after each goal."

Passive Play: Per The Telegraph, the term means to stall (delay the game). Passive play is not allowed in handball. Teams who are deemed to be stalling will be warned or penalized by the referees.

First Wave: According to The Telegraph, it is "a breakaway attack, made when the opposition's defenders are out of position, which has a high chance of success."

Green Card: Per the IHF, a coach can call a timeout by placing a specially designed green card on the scorer's table next to the timekeeper.

Jump Shot: According to Science Daily, a player executes this move by jumping up in the air while throwing the ball toward his or her opponent's goal.

Court Player: Per the IHF, the term can refer to any of the players on the court, except for the goalies.

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The author is a freelance writer who happens to be an avid sports fan. He is not affiliated with any Olympic organizations or handball teams.

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