The sport of handball, for many, is completely foreign and likely something that you might have never seen (or possibly even heard of) before. To be fair, the sport is played widespread in few places other than Europe.
This is especially true as Asian and South American teams begin to make their presence felt on the world stage. Regardless of where it is played, the fact of the matter is that it can be wagered upon at most online sportsbooks and is slowly but surely becoming a popular betting option—and not only for European bettors.
The following few sections will introduce you to the game of handball and transition into the different ways of handball betting, including the most popular competitions and leagues.
How the Game Works
If you understand the rules of basketball understanding the rules of handball will become infinitely simpler. The game is played on a court that is slightly larger than a basketball court. Instead of a raised hoop on each end of the court, there are goals similar to those used in soccer, only smaller.
Once again like basketball, the game is played with a rounded ball that must be dribbled once every three steps in order to be advanced forward. Of course, a player can also pass the ball in whatever direction they choose in order to advance it.
A team in a traditional game of handball consists of 7 players—1 of which is a designated goalie. From here on out, things become pretty simple. Players will dribble and pass their way around the court in order to work themselves into a shooting position, at which point they can throw the ball towards the goal in an attempt to work it past the keeper.
There is something that resembles the 3-point line of a basketball court. A player must shoot from outside the semi-circle barring a penalty throw (resulting from a foul) or so long as they shoot the ball whilst in the air and before touching the ground.
Fouls exist, but once again mostly resemble the fouling rules that govern basketball. In a nutshell, this is the game of handball as well as how it is played.
Types of Handball Betting
Handball betting resembles that of most other sports, if we are being completely honest. Though the scoring resembles that of soccer, the fast-paced nature of the game is more like basketball or lacrosse. As such, there are a few different ways by which you can wager upon the game.
Perhaps more straightforward than any type of wager is the moneyline wager. When you place a bet on the moneyline, you are betting that a particular team will emerge victorious. In handball, a game can finish regulation with a tie scored. In the event of this, a penalty shootout of sorts will ensue.
Because of the existence of a tie, or draw as it is known, the moneyline will have three options. For betting on handball, the moneyline options will be Team A, Team B, and Draw. To paint a picture of how this might look on a sportsbook, we will provide you with the following hypothetical matchup.
Vive Targi Kielce +450
FC Barcelona -600
In this example, the “-“ before Barcelona’s odds represent that they are the favorite. The 600 following the “-“ indicate that Barcelona are a very heavy favorite. Conversely, the “+” next to Vive Targi’s 450 odds mean that the Polish side are heavy underdogs. To put this in perspective, a $100 wager on Barcelona would stand to win you a little more than $16. A similar $100 wager on Vive Targi would stand to win you $450. By extension, a bet on the game resulting in a draw would win you $1,400. Clearly, the most likely result is not a draw.
A spread bet will feature odds that look exactly like the odds listed on a moneyline wager, however a point spread will complement those odds. In a spread wager, the bettor is betting not strictly on the game’s outcome, (win, loss, draw) but rather the margin of victory.
We will keep with the two teams above, and provide another hypothetical betting line.
Vive Targi Kielce +4.5 (-110)
FC Barcelona -4.5 (-130)
Once again, Barcelona is the favorite in this example, indicated by the “-4.5” accompanying their -130 odds. What this means is that Barcelona are favored, or expected to win by, at least 5 goals. The half-goal exists as a way of preventing the wager from ending in a push, or a situation where the bet neither wins nor loses.
Conversely, Vive Targi are the underdogs with their slightly better -110 odds. Another way to think of this is, if you place a wager on Vive Targi, you can think of them as beginning the match already leading by 4.5 goals. So long as they can preserve, or build upon, this lead, you will emerge victorious. So, for example. If Vive Targi loses by a score of 7-5, your spread bet on them is a winner. If they lose 7-1, however, your spread bet will lose.
Like moneyline betting, over/under betting is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. Basically, you are placing a wager on whether the final score of a handball match will be over or under a certain point total. There are only two options, and this type of bet can best be classified as a toss-up, as there are often very few people who successfully, over time, provide accurate insight on over/under wagers.
If we keep with the hypothetical matchup we have been discussing thus far, the over/under betting proposition will look something like this.
Over 55.5 (-120)
Under 55.5 (-115)
A bet on the over is saying that you think the final combined score will be 56 or greater. A bet on the under, on the other hand, is saying that the final score will be 55 or less.
The final type of betting is actually a blanket-term that encompasses a bunch of different individual wagers. In reality, proposition bets are bets that can be placed on almost everything. Whether you are betting on the performance of a particular player (goals scored, saves made, etc.) or the performance of a whole team, these are all considered propositions bets. You can also do segment betting where you might place a moneyline, spread, or over/under bet on just one part of the game, such as the first half.
The existence of proposition bets available for a single handball match is something that depends upon the popularity of the match in question. For games from lesser-known leagues there will be fewer prop bets than what exists for the EHF Champions League Final.
Popular Handball Leagues to Bet On
The Polish Superliga is Poland’s top handball league and one of the top handball leagues in the world. Handball is one of the most popular sports in the country and Poland reigns supreme as one of the consistent top contenders in Europe and the world.
Liga ASOBAL is Spain’s top league and was founded in 1990. There are very few sports Spain is not talented at, and even though handball is not necessarily the country’s top sport their league is still one of the best.
This is Germany’s top handball league and, like Poland’s, is one of the best in both Europe and the world.
EHF Champions League
The EHF Champions League is a competition that actually involves teams from the aforementioned leagues and more. Basically, the top teams from Europe’s top leagues compete to determine the overall champion of Europe. The games in this competition are some of most intense and high quality in the world.
In addition to this, there are national competitions such as the IHF World Championships and the handball event held every four years at the Summer Olympics. Both of these are extremely popular for bettors, however take place relatively infrequently when compared to the annual nature of the aforementioned leagues.
All in all, the game of handball is interesting and something that might be new to many people. Beyond that, there are countless betting options on a large number of games. As handball grows in popularity and becomes an even more well-known sport, the number of wagering options will only grow larger and larger.