Handball is one of the most popular sports in Spain, with a long history of championships, and currently is the home of some of the best clubs and players in Europe. The Spanish league is separated into two, with Liga ASOBAL for the pro teams. The teams in the league compete at a National and European level and have won several championships over the years.
Handball games come in many varieties, and almost every country has its own version of it. The officially recognized versions of handball are:
This game also referred to as Olympic or European handball is a 7 player team-sport where the teams pass a ball with the objective of landing it in the goal of the opposing team. The game runs for exactly half an hour, after which the team which scored the most is declared winner of the game. Team handball is a so called "indoor sport", but is known to be occasionally outdoors where it is referred to as field handball. This variant of the game has no relation with the American version of handball.
The game is played by hitting a small rubber ball against one or several walls. American handball is played on a 40ft by 20ft indoor court, and uses either one, three or four walls to play upon. Most common the court is box shaped, where a line divides the playing field dividing the field exactly down the middle. 5ft in front of that line another one is drawn which is referred to as the "Service zone". There are one on one, doubles and triangle variants of the game. In the triangles version of the game one player is rotated against 2 others, until one of them reaches 21 and wins the game.
Similar to American handball, the Australian version is also played by hitting a ball against one or several walls. The game has many similarities with squash, but is played without the use of a racquet. Once hit, the ball will bounce against a wall and must be served back in the same fashion, before it hits the floor twice.
The game can be played one on one or two teams of two players, called doubles. Like the American variant there are 1, 3 and 4 wall varieties, but it is typically played using three walls. The reason for this is that the indoor courts for playing handball are almost all set up for this variety of the game.
This has many similarities to team handball, where the objective of the game is to pass the ball in order to land it in the goal of the other team. The main difference of the game is that instead of being mostly played indoors, beach handball, like the name implies, is played on a beach or other sand surfaces. Beach handball games are played in sets, which can be two or three, which is decided by the outcome of the second set of the match.
Chinese handball is a variety of the American handball game and became popular on the American streets in parts of New York during the sixties and seventies where it is still practiced and played today. Worldwide there are many variations of the game. The main difference with other varieties of the handball game is that the ball must bounce on the floor before hitting a wall, in order for the shot to count. The game was at the height of its popularity since the fifties, and remained popular until the late seventies all over the world.
This is the original version of the outdoors handball game, the way it was played during the Olympics of 1936. The game is played on a field similar to a football field and the rules are identical to that of the indoor variant, which gained in popularity and replaced field handball. Officially the last championship for field handball was held in 1966.
This game is played between four players on a square shaped court, which is separated into quadrants. The game needs no other equipment and because of its easy set up it is commonly played at playgrounds and courtyards. It is also occasionally referred to as square ball.
This is a traditional Dutch sport which was played mainly in the province of Friesland. It has many similarities with American handball. Kaatsen is regarded to be among the oldest of ballgames and unofficially was a demonstration sport during the 1928 Olympics.
This is very similar to Basque pelota and almost identical to American handball. The game can be played with up to 4 players and is one of the Gaelic games organized by the GAA. The game is played with bare hands and much more simple than the original handball game.
Handball in Catalonia
The first games of handball in Catalonia were held in 1941, which led to the birth of the first Catalonian Handball Federation in 1942. After this, the game gained in popularity fast, with an increasing amount of new handball teams every year. In 1958 there were more than 75 handball clubs in Catalonia, and in that same year, on a French proposal, the very first European Clubs Cup was organized in Barcelona.
For a period of approximately 20 years, the preferred version of handball that was practiced during the competitions was played using 11 players per team, but gradually this changed to the 7 player variant. The last 11 player competitions held were the Catalonia Championships.
In the twenty years that followed, the Catalonian league was governed by the Catalan Federation, where the best Catalonian clubs competed against each other. In 1997 this changed into the Pirenees league with the addition of teams originating from the southern parts of France.
FC Barcelona is regarded as one of the best European handball clubs with the most wins to its name in both leagues, and being the winner of seven EHF Champions Leagues and many more championships. The second most famous Catalonian handball team is BM Granollers, which is one of the oldest Catalonian handball clubs in existence today.