IHF prepares to test proposed rule amendments

08 Oct. 2020

IHF prepares to test proposed rule amendments

The IHF Game and Rules Development Working Group (GRDWG) exists to continuously develop and improve the IHF Rules of the Game (Indoor Handball), with the aim of making handball more attractive.

Ideas are constantly being discussed between the GRDWG and the IHF Commission of Coaching and Methods (CCM) as well as with integral handball stakeholders worldwide – namely top coaches, players and referees.

With this in mind, the IHF organised an Inter Commission Meeting (ICM) in November 2018, to hear from a variety of expert handball stakeholders – presidents of Continental Confederations and National Federations, top coaches, top referees, members of IHF Commissions, experts in marketing, TV and media – as well as representatives from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) – about how handball can continue to develop as a sport.

Many ideas were collected, including those relating to future IHF Rules of the Game (Indoor Handball) and following the ICM, the GRDWG prepared proposed amendments to three rules:

Passive play (Relating to Rule 7:12)

  • Reduce the maximum amount of passes of the attacking team from six (6) to four (4) after the forewarning signal is shown before a free throw is called;
  • A pass for the attacking team is counted if the executed throw is blocked by a defending field-player and the ball comes back to an attacking player. If the attacking team is awarded a formal throw (free throw or throw-in) after completing the fourth (4th) pass, they may play an additional pass to finish the attack.

Hitting the goalkeeper in the head with the ball (Relating to Rules 8:8, 8:9)

  • A direct two-minute suspension instead of red card when a shooter hits the goalkeeper’s head with the ball on a 7m-throw;
  • A direct two-minute suspension if shooter hits goalkeeper’s head with ball when in play (not just formal throw);
  • Exceptions include if a shot comes from an unbalanced player due to a foul committed by defending player, or from an indirect shot (i.e. after a rebound from a defending player).

New throw-off area (Relating to Rules 10, 10:3, 10:4)

  • Throw-off area to be introduced;
  • Three different sizes (metres – diameter) to be tested: 3.5m, 4m, 4.5m.

These proposed amendments were then discussed with top national team coaches last January at the men’s continental championships in Africa, Asia and South and Central America, in tandem with top European coaches, teams and clubs on an individual basis.

The response to the proposed amendments was unanimously positive, with the next step in the transparent process to organise tests in practice through National Federations, overseen by the GRDWG.

10 National Federations have been selected to take part in the official testing process, across four Continental Confederations:

  • Africa (CAHB): Egypt
  • Asia (AHF): Qatar, Republic of Korea
  • South and Central America (SCAHC): Uruguay
  • Europe (EHF): Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, France, Spain, Hungary

“In many of the countries, the COVID-19 situation is complicating the normal running of leagues, so we have to adapt to this new reality and co-operate with all national federations, but, as it stands, Netherlands, Hungary, Norway and France are ready to start the tests through their various national competitions and tournaments, with Spain, Denmark, Egypt and Korea ready in the near future,” explained Ramón Gallego, Chairman of the IHF Playing Rules and Refereeing Commission (PRC) to ihf.info.

“It is not necessary to test the rules in the top leagues in each federation,” he added. “They could be conducted in the second leagues or lower, or junior leagues or in tournaments.”

Once the tests have been completed, the GRDWG will analyse all feedback received and make their final decisions on the amendments, which will then be proposed to the IHF Council for confirmation and then submitted for approval at the 2021 IHF Congress, and if approved, will take effect from July 2022.

The proposed amendments will also be on the agenda for the upcoming meeting between the IHF and top coaches on 15 October 2020, with IHF referees Julie Bonaventura (FRA), Robert Schulze (GER), Mirza Kurtagic (SWE), Boris Milosevic (CRO) and Angel Sabroso (ESP) also involved in the process, as well as on the agenda of the meeting of the IHF and the top nations at the end of the month. After these meetings, a testing phase will start. 

The IHF Rules of the Game – Indoor Handball (1 July 2016), New Guidelines and Interpretations (1 July 2019) can be viewed and downloaded on ihf.info here.