Olympic handball is a great sport to teach any class. I particularly like it with older age groups, as the structure of the game enforces team work, and prevents the competitive, sporty students from dominating all of the time.
The rules are very simple.
- You have a pitch with two goals, the same as a soccer pitch.
- Each team has a goalkeeper, and there is a box around him that other players cannot enter, about three strides in each direction.
- The aim of the game is to throw the ball into the goal for a score. The ball is smaller than a soccer ball – see the picture below.
- When a player has the ball, he/she is allowed to take three steps, before passing/shooting. (In the real game, you can bounce the ball while running, similar to basketball, but I find this lets the stronger kids run the game too much!
- If the ball drops to the floor, pick it up and play on. You cannot kick or roll the ball.
- Olympic handball is a non-contact sport – players can slap the ball away, but can’t tackle the player.
Here is a clip of a game of Olympic handball – just remember that the rules are a little different than what I suggested, so be ready to defend yourself!
A few simple drills you can use before playing competitive matches are:
- Drop-Ball: Players throw the ball to each other in a line of three. If anyone drops the ball, the whole team is out. Make players switch hands, place one hand on their head, or lie down to make this more difficult.
- Pass, Catch, Shoot: Set out three cones with an equal number of players – back, middle and front. The player at the back passes to the player in the middle, who catches and passes to the front, who shoots. The shooter then collects the ball and each player moves to the next station.
- Possession Game: Two teams of 4/5 players play within a grid to complete 5 passes without the ball being intercepted by the other team.
- Long and Short: Two players face another pair across the pitch. The ball is passed (short) between partners, and then thrown (long) to the other pair, who repeat the process. Focus on passing the ball without stopping!
- Can’t Touch Me: Players go in pairs – each player needs a ball. The players hop on one foot and try to score points by touching the other player with the ball.
- Double Time: In pairs, players pass and receive a ball simultaneously. Great for hand-eye coordination and timing!
I took a lot of these drills from the video below, so take a look if you want some more ideas.
I hope this post encourages you to give Olympic handball a try with your class. It’s a nice one to add a bit of energy to the end of the year, when your class are sick of playing basketball or rounders.
If you do decide to give it a go, I’d love to hear how you get on @irishguyteaching on Instagram!