The Official USHA Handball Rules, 1999
Part 1. The Game
Rule 1.1 Types of games. Four-wall handball may be played by two, three
or four players. When played by two, it is called singles; when played
by three, cutthroat (See Interpretation No.1); and when played by four,
Rule 1.2 Description. Handball is a competitive game in which either
hand or either fist may be used to serve and return the ball.
Rule 1.3 Objective. The objective is to win each rally by serving or
returning the ball so the opponent is unable to keep the ball in play.
A rally is won when one player is unable to return the opponent's shot
to the front wall before it touches the floor twice, or when a player
returns the ball so that it hits the floor before striking the front
Rule 1.4 Points and outs. Points are scored only
by the serving side when it serves an ace (un-returnable serve) or
wins a rally. When the
serving side loses one rally in singles or two rallies in doubles, it
loses the serve. Losing the serve is called an "out".
Rule 1.5 Game, match, tiebreaker. A match is won by the first side winning
two games. The first two games of a match are played to 21 points. In
the event each side wins a game, a tie-breaker is played to 11 points.
Part 2. Courts and Equipment
Rule 2.1 Courts. The specifications for the standard four-wall handball
A. Dimensions. The court is 20 feet wide, 20 feet high and 40 feet
long, with back wall recommended minimum height of 14 feet.
B. Lines and zones. Handball courts shall be divided and marked on
the floors with 2-inch-wide lines. Recommended colors are white or
lines shall be marked as follows:
1.) Short line. The short line is parallel to the front and back walls.
Its outside edge is 20 feet from the front wall.
2.) Service line. The service line is parallel to the short line and
its outside edge is 5 feet in front of the outside edge of the short
3.) Service zone. The service zone is the area between the outer edges
of the short and service lines.
4.) Service boxes. A service box is located at each end of the service
zone by lines which have outside measurements of 18 inches from, and
parallel to, each side wall.
5.) Receiver's restraining lines. Five feet back of the outside edge
of the short line, lines should be marked on the floor extending at
least 6 inches from the side wall. These lines, parallel to the short
may also be marked as a broken line extending from side wall to side
wall.. (See Rule 4. 4.A).
Rule 2.2 Ball
1.) Material. The material should be rubber or synthetic material.
Color. Color is optional.
3.) Size. 1 and 7/8-inch diameter, with l/32-inch
4.) Weight. The ball shall be 58-62 grams, with a variation
of 2 grams. A lighter ball may be used for any division provided it is
and is specified on the entry blank.
5.) Rebound. Rebound from free fall,
70-inch drop to a hardwood floor is 48 to 52 inches at a temperature
of 68 degrees F.
B. Selection. A new ball must be selected by the referee for use in
each match in all tournaments. During a game the referee has the
to change balls if he deems it necessary. Though it is the referee's
decision, he should honor requests when made by both sides or when
he detects erratic bounces.
Rule 2.3 Gloves.
A. General. Gloves must be worn.
B. Style. Gloves must be light in color and made of a soft material
or leather. The fingers may not be webbed, connected or removed.
C. Foreign substances. No foreign substance, tape or rubber bands shall
be used on the fingers or on the palms on the outside of the gloves.
Metal or hard substances may not be worn under the glove if, in the opinion
of the referee, it creates an unfair advantage (See interpretation No.
D. Wet Gloves. Gloves must be changed when they become sufficiently
wet to moisten the ball. This is the referee's decision. Gloves with
holes that expose the skin may not be worn. It is the player's responsibility
to have an ample supply of dry gloves.
Rule 2.4 Uniform.
A. General. All parts of the uniform, consisting of a shirt, shorts,
socks and shoes, must be clean at the beginning of a match. Only
customary handball attire, in the referee's judgment, can be worn.
not play without shirts. Shirts must be full length, not cut off
in the torso.
B. Color. Color is optional. Unusual patterns that affect the opposing
player's view of the ball or distract him may not be worn.
C. Wet shirts. Referee may demand that a wet shirt be changed. Players
must have an ample supply of dry shirts.
D. Lettering and insignia. Lettering or insignia in poor taste is not
E. Shoes. Shoes must have soles that do not mark or damage the floor.
F. Headband (sweatband). Players must have access to a headband. They
will not be required to wear it unless the referee deems it necessary
to help keep the floor from getting wet.
Rule 2.5 Eye protection.
A. General. Protective eye wear must be properly worn at all times
during play. The USHA recommends that players select lensed eye protection
designed for court sports, with polycarbonate lenses of at least
m.m. center thickness.
B. Violations. Failure to wear appropriate protective eyewear properly
will result in a technical (see Rule 4.9), and the player will be charged
a timeout to secure eyewear. The second violation in the same match will
result in a forfeit. (See Interpretation No. 3).
Part 3. Officials and Officiating
Tournament director. All tournaments shall be managed
by a tournament director, who shall designate the officials. Whenever
officials should include a chief of referees, a floor manager,
referees and linesmen.
A. Responsibilities. The tournament director is responsible for overseeing
the entire tournament. He, or his delegated representative, shall
be present at all times.
B. Rules briefing. Before all tournaments, all officials and players
should be briefed on rules and on local court hinders or other regulations.
This briefing should also be in writing. The current USHA rules will
apply and be made available. Any modifications made by the Tournament
Director should be stated on the entry form, and be available to all
players at registration. It is also recommended that referee clinics
be held before all USHA-sanctioned tournaments.
Rule 3.2 Chief of referees. The chief of referees
is in charge of assigning referees to all tournament matches.
Rule 3.3 Removal of referee.
One or more players may request that a referee be replaced. The decision
to do so is at the sole discretion of the tournament director or chief
of referees. Special consideration should be given to such a request
if all players are in agreement.
Rule 3.4 Referee.
A. Pre-match duties.
Before each match begins, it shall be the duty of the referee to:
1.) Playability. Check on adequacy of preparation of the handball court
with respect to playability.
2.) Equipment. Check on availability and
suitability of all materials necessary for the match, such as handballs,
towels, scorecards, pencils
and a timepiece.
3.) Assisting officials. Check readiness and provide
instructions to assisting officials.
4.) Court hinders. Explain court
hinders, if any, to players. (See Rule 4.3.A.).
5.) Inspect gloves, uniforms
and eye protection. Remind players to have an adequate supply of extra
gloves and shirts. Inspect compliance of
gloves and hands with rules. Remind players that failure to wear eye
protection properly will result in a technical, and a second violation
in a forfeit.
6.) Start game. Introduce players, toss coin to determine
order of serve and signal start of game.
7.) Time. The assigned referee
should be present 15 minutes before match time.
8.) Two-minute warning.
Give a two-minute warning before the match and before each game.
Announce the scores before each rally. (See Rule 4.1.E).
The referee shall make all decisions with regard to the rules and the
referee has the authority to change his call. Where line judges are
used, the referee shall announce all final judgments. In the absence
of line judges, if both players in singles or three out of four in
a doubles match disagree with a call made by the referee, the referee
should consider reversing his call.
The referee shall have jurisdiction over the spectators, as well as the
players, while the match is in progress. (See Rule 5.6)
C. Protests. Any decision involving a rules interpretation may be protested
before the next serve. It will then be resolved by the chief of referees
or tournament director. Judgment calls may not be protested. If the player's
protest is upheld, the proper ruling will be made. If the player's protest
is not upheld, the player shall be charged with a timeout. If the player
is out of timeouts, he will be charged with a technical.
D. Forfeitures. A match may be forfeited by the referee when:
1.) Flagrant unsportsman-like conduct. Any player refuses to abide by
the referee's decision or engages in flagrant unsportsman-like conduct.
Three technicals. A player or side receives three technicals in a match,
or two technicals for failure to properly wear eye protection.
the court. Any player leaves the court at a time not allowed by these
rules without permission of the referee.
4.) Failure to report.
a. No show. Any player for a singles match, or any team for a doubles
match, fails to report to play.
b. Late start penalty. If a player is
not ready to play (or resume play) on time, the opponent shall be awarded
one point. The opponent will then
be awarded one additional point for each full minute of delay of game
up to 10 minutes. The match shall then be forfeited. This applies to
the start of the match, between-game timeouts, timeouts during a game
and glove-change timeouts. Players should stay within earshot of the
referee to help prevent the delay-of-game penalty. It is the obligation
of the players to be ready to resume play on time even if the referee
fails to give time warnings. If the matches are on, or ahead of schedule,
the players must be in the court warming up at least 10 minutes before
the assigned match time to assure a prompt start. If running behind,
the players must be dressed and ready to enter the court for a maximum
10-minute, in-court warm up.
If a player shows up less than 10 minutes before the scheduled starting
time, his warm-up time will be reduced accordingly. The tournament director
may permit a longer delay if circumstances warrant.
E. Defaults. A player or team may be forfeited by the tournament director
or official in charge for failure to comply with the tournament or host
facility's rules while on the tournament premises, for failure to referee
or for any other improper conduct on the tournament premises.
F. Other rulings. The referee shall rule on all matters not covered
in the USHA Official Rules. However, the referee may be overruled by
the chief of referees or tournament director, the latter of whom shall
have final authority.
Rule 3.5 Line Judges.
A. Linesmen. If possible, two linesmen will be used in all matches, positioned
at the most advantageous viewpoints. A linesman's opinion is based
on his agreement or disagreement with the referee's call. If a linesman
is uncertain, he should abstain from expressing an opinion.
B. Duties and responsibilities. Linesmen are designated to help decide
appealed calls. In the event of an appeal, and after a very brief explanation
of the appeal by the referee, the linesmen must indicate their opinions
of the referee's call. The signal to show agreement with the referee
is arm extended with thumb up, disagreement is shown by thumb pointing
down. The signal to show no opinion or that the line judge is unsure,
or his view was blocked, is arm extended with an open hand and palm down.
Line judges should not signal until the referee acknowledges the appeal
and asks for a ruling.
C. Result of response. If both line judges signal no opinion, the referee's
call stands. If both line judges disagree with the referee, the referee
must reverse his ruling. If only one line judge disagrees with the referee's
call, the referee may let the call stand, reverse his call or call for
Rule 3.6 Appeals.
A. Appealable calls.
The server may appeal a short or other service fault. He may also appeal
receiving line violations. If his appeal is upheld, the server is awarded
the serve over. If he had one short, the call would cancel the previous
fault call, and he would be awarded two serves, because he was judged
to have made a legal serve. If, in the opinion of the referee, the
ball could not have been returned, a point shall be awarded the server.
the appeal is not upheld, the call would be two shorts, a side out.
After the rally has ended, either player may appeal on a double-bounce
call or non-call, kill shots called good, killshots called no good and
court hinders. The outcome may result in a point being awarded, a side
out, or a replay depending on the linesmen's opinions. If both linesmen
disagree with the referee's call or non-call, the call is reversed or
replayed. After the rally has ended, either player may appeal faults
and skip serves not called. If he wins the appeal, he is awarded the
appropriate call. At no time may a player appeal a screen serve, hinder
(other than court hinders), technicals or other discretionary calls.
B. How to appeal.
A player must make appeals directly to the referee before the referee
announces the score. The referee will then request the opinion of the
linesmen. The referee may also appeal to the linesmen himself if he
is uncertain of his own call, and may then maintain, reverse or nullify
his own call. A replay shall be called if the referee believes it is
necessary in the interest of fairness. Rule 3.7 Scorers.
The scorer, when utilized, shall keep a record of the progress of the
game in the manner prescribed by the tournament director. As a minimum,
the progress record shall include the order of serves, outs, and points.
Rule 3.8 Floor Manager. The floor manager informs players of their court assignments and times.
Part 4. Play Regulations.
Rule 4.1 Serve.
A. Order. In singles, the player winning the toss of a coin serves
first in the first game. The other player serves first in the second
If a tiebreaker is necessary, the player who scored the higher total
of points in the first two games serves first. If both players score
an equal number of points in the first two games, another coin toss
will be made to determine which player serves first. In doubles,
winning the toss of a coin chooses to serve or receive in the first
game. The other side shall choose for the second game. If a tiebreaker
the team scoring the higher total of points in the first two games
shall choose. If both teams score an equal number of points in the
games, another coin toss will be made to determine which team has
B. Start. Games are started by the referee announcing “play ball,” and
then the score, “0 – 0.”
C. Place. The server may serve from any place in
the service zone. No part of either foot may touch the floor beyond
the outer edge of either
line of the service zone. Server must remain in the service zone until
the served ball passes the short line. Violations are called “foot
faults." (See Rule 4.3 C.1.).
D. Manner. The server must come to a complete stop in the service zone
before beginning the serve. The serve is begun by bouncing the ball to
the floor in the service zone. Although the server may bounce and catch
the ball several times before serving, when actually beginning the serve
the ball must be struck on a single bounce. If a player allows the ball
to bounce more than once after a single drop and then hits it, a fault
will be called (See Rule 4.3 C.8). The ball must be struck by the server's
hand or fist so that it hits the front wall first and on the rebound
hits the floor behind the short line, either with or without touching
one of the side walls. If the server bounces the ball outside the service
zone as he begins his serve, a fault will be called (See Rule 4.3 C.7).
E. Time. A serve may not be made until the referee
has announced the score (See Rule 3.4.A.9). The referee shall call
point or side out as
soon as a rally ends. The receiver then has up to 10 seconds to assume
a receiving position. When the receiver has assumed a receiving position
or 10 seconds have elapsed, whichever occurs first, and the server
has had reasonable time to get to his serving position, the referee
announce the score and the server must serve (strike the ball) within
10 seconds. If the first serve results in a fault or screen, the referee
shall give the receiver a reasonable time to take a receiving position
and then the referee shall announce "second serve" after
which the server must serve within 10 seconds. (See Interpretation
Rule 4.2 Doubles.
At the beginning of each game in doubles, each side informs the referee
of the order of service, which must be followed throughout the game.
Only the first server on the first serving team may serve the first
time up. This player must continue to serve first throughout the game.
the game's first server is put out on his initial serve, the side is
out. Thereafter, both players on each side shall serve until an out
for each occurs. It is not necessary for the server to alternate serves
B. Partner's position.
On each serve, the server's partner shall stand erect with his back
to the nearer side wall and with both feet on the floor within the
box until the served ball passes the short line. Violations are called “foot
Rule 4.3 Defective serves.
Defective serves are of four types and result in the following:
A. Dead-ball serves.
A dead-ball serve results in no penalty and the server is given another
serve without canceling a prior illegal serve. This occurs in the
1.) Court hinders.
If a served ball takes an erratic bounce due to a court obstruction
or wetness (before the serve has become a legal serve) a court hinder
is called and the serve is replayed. (See Rule 3.4.A.4 )
If the ball is determined to have broken on the serve, a new ball shall
be substituted, and the serve shall be replayed.
B. Screen serves.
A screen serve call stops play, and the server gets another serve.
Two consecutive screen serves result in a “fault.”
If, in the referee's judgment, the ball passes so close to the server
or the server's partner that the receiver's view of the ball is obstructed,
a screen should be called. (See Interpretation No. 5). Also, if the
served ball hits the server’s partner on the fly rebounding from
the front wall or from the front wall and a side wall while the server’s
partner is in a legal position within the service box, it shall be
treated as a screen serve. It is also a screen when any otherwise
legally served ball passes behind the server's partner, between the
and the nearer side wall.
2.) Straddle balls.
A legally served ball that travels between the legs of the server is
an automatic screen.
C. Fault serves.
The following serves are fault serves, and any two that are hit before
a legal serve is executed result in an out:
1.) Foot fault.
a.) The server begins the service motion with one or both feet touching
the floor outside the service zone (See Rule 4.1.C).
b.) The server leaves the service zone before the served ball passes
the short line.
c.) In doubles, when the server's partner is not in the service box
with both feet on the floor and his back to the nearer side wall from
time the serve is begun until the ball passes the short line.
Any serve that first hits the front wall and on the rebound hits the
floor in front of, or on, the short line either with or without touching
one side wall.
3.) Three-wall serve.
Any serve that first hits the front wall and then hits any two other
walls before hitting the floor.
4.) Ceiling serve. Any serve that hits
the front wall first and then touches the ceiling.
5.) Long serve. Any
serve that first hits the front wall and rebounds to the back wall before
touching the floor.
6.) Out-of-court serve. Any serve that first strikes
the front wall and then rebounds out of the court without touching the
7.) Bouncing ball outside service zone. Any serve that is struck
on a bounce that was made outside the service zone. (See Rule 4.1 D)
Not hitting ball on first bounce from a single drop. (See Rule 4.1 D).
Two consecutive screen serves. Two consecutive screen serves result in
a fault. This is the only fault call that cannot be appealed.
D. Out serves.
Any of the following results in an out:
1.) Missed serve.
Any attempt to strike the ball on the first service bounce that results
in a total miss, or in the ball touching any part of the server's body
other than the striking hand.
2.) Non-front serve.
Any served ball that does not strike the front wall first.
Any served ball on the rebound from the front wall, before bouncing
on the floor, that touches the server, or touches the server's partner
when both of the partner’s feet are not touching the floor inside
the service box or when the partner’s back is not to the nearer
side wall. This includes a serve that is intentionally caught. When
the partner is hit by the serve when he is not in his legal position,
the out serve penalty supersedes the partner's foot fault (See Interpretation
4.) Two consecutive fault serves.
(See Rule 4.3 B).
5.) Crotch serve.
Any serve that hits a crotch in the front wall is an out. All balls
hitting the crotch of a wall and the floor shall be considered to have
the floor first. A serve that rebounds on the fly from the front
wall into the crotch of the back wall and the floor is a legal serve,
is a three-wall crotch serve.
6.) Out-of-order serve.
In doubles, when either partner serves out of order, the points scored
by that server will be subtracted and an out serve will be called.
If the second server serves out of order, the out serve will apply
to the first server and the second server will resume serving. If the
player designated as the first server serves out of order, a sideout
will be called (See Interpretation No. 7). 7.) Service delay. The server
fails to serve the ball within 10 seconds after the referee has announced
the score. Rule 4.4 Return of serve.
A. Receiving position.
The receiver or receivers must stand at least five feet behind the
short line, as indicated by the receiver’s restraining lines,
until the ball is struck by the server. Any violation of this rule
results in a
point for the server. (See Rule 2.1.B.5)
B. Fly return.
In making a fly return, the receiver may play the ball anytime after
it passes over the back edge of the short line and no part of his body
may extend on or over the plane of the back edge of the short line
when contacting the ball. A violation results in a point for the server.
After contacting the ball, the receiver may step on or over the short
line without penalty.
C. Legal return.
After the ball is legally served, one of the players on the receiving
side must strike the ball either on the fly or after the first bounce,
and before the ball touches the floor the second time, to return the
ball to the front wall either directly or after it has touched one
or both side walls, the back wall, the ceiling, or any combination
of those surfaces. A returned ball may not touch the floor before touching
the front wall. A ball may be played off the back wall as well as the
front wall, provided the ball does not touch the floor a second time.
Failure to make a legal return results in a point for the server.
Rule 4.5. Changes of serve.
A server continues serving until he or his side makes an out. When
the server or the side loses the serve, they become the receiver
side, and the receiving side becomes the serving side; and so alternately
in all subsequent services of the game. Outs are made by:
A. Out serve.
The server makes an out serve under Rule 4.3 D.
B. Fault serves.
The server makes two fault serves before executing a legal serve under
Rule 4.3 C.
C. Hits partner.
The server hits his partner with an attempted return.
D. Return failure.
The server or his partner fails to keep the ball in play by returning
it as required by Rule 4.4 C.
E. Avoidable hinder.
The server or his partner commits an avoidable hinder (See Rule 4.8).
F. Second out.
In doubles, the side is retired when both partners have been put out,
except on the first serve of the game as provided in Rule 4.2 A.
Rule 4.6 Rally.
When the ball is legally returned and kept in play after a legal serve
is executed. Play during rallies must be in accord with the following
A. One hand.
Only the front or back of one hand may be used at any one time to
return the ball. Using two hands together or any portion of the body
the hand to hit a ball is an out.
B. Wrist ball.
The use of any other part of the body to return the ball, including the
wrist or arm above the player's hand, is a violation, even though the
wrist or arm may be covered by a glove.
C. One touch.
In attempting returns, the ball may be touched only once by one player.
In doubles, both partners may swing at the ball, but only one may actually
D. Failure to return.
Any of the following constitutes a failure to make a legal return during
1.) The ball bounces on the floor twice before being hit.
contact, the ball fails to reach the front wall before touching the
3.) The ball caroms off a player's hand or fist into the gallery
or into any opening in a side wall.
4.) A ball that obviously did not
have the velocity or direction to hit the front wall strikes an opponent.
In doubles, a ball struck by one player hits that player's partner.
Committing an avoidable hinder (See Rule 4.8).
E. Effect of failure to return.
Each violation results in an out or point. Any violation not detected
by the referee must be called by the offending player.
F. Return attempts.
If a player swings at but misses the ball in play, the player may repeat
his attempts to return the ball until it touches the floor the second
Both players on a side are entitled to attempt to return the ball.
If one player swings at but misses the ball, both he and his partner
make further attempts to return the ball until it touches the floor
the second time.
In singles or doubles, if a player swings at but misses the ball in play,
and, in his or his partner's continuing attempt to play the ball before
it touches the floor a second time, an opponent commits unavoidable
interference, a hinder is called (See Rule 4.7).
G. Touching the ball.
Except as provided in Rule 4.7 A.2, any touching of a ball before it
touches the floor the second time by a player other than the one making
a return is a point or out against the offending player.
H. Out-of-court ball.
Any ball returned to the front wall that on the rebound or on the first
bounce goes into the gallery or through any opening in a side wall
is declared dead and the serve replayed.
Any ball not returned to the front wall that caroms off a player's hand
or fist into the gallery or into any opening in a side wall shall be
an out or point against the player failing to make the return.
I. Dry ball and gloves.
Every effort must be made to keep the ball dry. Deliberately wetting
the ball results in an out or point. The ball may be inspected by the
referee at any time. If a player's gloves are wet to the extent that
they leave wet marks on the ball, the player must change to dry gloves
on a referee's timeout. This is strictly a referee's judgment. If a
player wishes to change to dry gloves, he must hold the palms of his
hands up to the referee and obtain the referee's permission to change.
He may not leave the court without the referee's permission. Two minutes
are allowed for glove changes. The referee should give a one-minute
warning, but the player is still responsible to be back in the court
within two minutes.
J. Broken ball.
If there is any suspicion that a ball has broken on the serve or during
a rally, play continues until the end of the rally. The referee or
any player may request that the ball be examined. If the referee decides
the ball is broken, a new ball must be put into play and the point
replayed. Once a succeeding serve is attempted, the previous rally
stands. (See Interpretation No. 8).
K. Play stoppage.
If a foreign object enters the court, or any other outside interference
occurs, or if a player loses a shoe or other properly worn equipment,
the referee shall stop the game if it interferes with the continuance
of play or poses an immediate danger. However, safety permitting,
one rally-ending attempt should be allowed (See Rule 4.8 H), (See
Whenever a rally is replayed for any reason, the server is awarded two
serves. A previous fault is voided.
Rule 4.7 Dead-ball hinders.
Dead-ball hinders should be called when interference affects the play.
(See Rule 4.6.F.3).
1.) Court hinders.
If, after the ball has been legally served, in the referee's opinion,
an erratic bounce is caused by a court obstruction, a court hinder should
be called. The player should not stop play at any time in anticipation
of a call. Included in court hinders is the ball that hits a wet spot
on the floor, walls or ceiling, causing it to skid. This is the referee's
call, not the player's. (See Interpretation No. 10).
2.) Ball hits opponent.
When a returned ball touches an opponent on the fly before hitting the
front wall, and the shot obviously would not have reached the front
wall on the fly, the player who is hit by the shot will be awarded
the rally. If the ball had any chance of reaching the wall, or if there
is any doubt in the official's mind as to whether the ball would have
reached the front wall, a dead-ball hinder will be called.
3.) Body contact.
If body contact occurs and the referee believes it was sufficient to
stop the rally, either to prevent injury or because the contact distracted
or prevented a player from being able to make a reasonable return,
a hinder will be called. Except for the offensive player stopping play
during his back-swing, physical contact is not an automatic hinder.
It is the judgment of the referee as to whether the contact impeded
4.) Screen ball.
Any ball rebounding from the front wall so close to the body of a defensive
player that it interferes with or prevents the offensive player from
having a clear view of the ball. The referee should be careful not
to make the screen call so quickly that it takes away an offensive
5.) Straddle ball.
When a ball passes between the legs of a player on the side that just
returned the ball, if there is no fair chance for the opposing player
to see or return the ball. This is not automatic.
6.) Back-swing hinder.
A player may not stop play, except on physical contact during his back-swing.
He may immediately say "Contact" if he wants a contact
hinder. If he elects to hit the ball, no contact call will be permitted.
defensive player may not stop play if contact occurs during his opponent's
7.) Safety holdup.
Any player about to execute a return who believes he will strike his
opponent with his hand or arm may immediately stop play and request
a dead-ball hinder. This call must be made immediately and is subject
to approval by the referee. The referee must grant the hinder if he
believes the holdup was reasonable and the player otherwise might have
been able to return the shot. The referee might also call an avoidable
hinder if warranted.
8.) Other interference.
Any other unavoidable interference that prevents a player from having
a fair chance to see or return the ball.
While attempting to return the ball, a player is entitled to a fair
chance to see and return the ball. It is the duty of the defensive
has just served or returned the ball to move so the offensive side
may go straight to the ball and not be required to go around an opponent.
In the judgment of the referee, however, the offensive player must
a reasonable effort to move toward the ball and have a reasonable
chance to return the ball before a hinder is called. The referee
should be liberal
in calling hinders to discourage playing the ball in such a way that
an opponent cannot see it or swing at it until it is too late. When
a player attempts a killshot in front of himself and his position
with his opponent's attempt to retrieve the ball, the referee should
give the benefit of any doubt as to whether the ball was retrievable
to the defensive player. It is not a hinder when a player hinders
his partner. (See Interpretation No. 11).
Both players on a side are entitled to a fair and unobstructed chance
at the ball. Either one could have been entitled to a hinder even though
it naturally would be his partner's ball and even though his partner
may have attempted to play the ball and has already missed (not touched)
A hinder call stops the play and usually voids any situation that follows,
such as the ball hitting a player who stopped playing because of the
call. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, his call was not
responsible for the player being hit by the ball, the referee may overrule
the hinder call and declare either a point or sideout. The only hinders
a player may call are specified in Rules 4.7 A. 6., and 4.7 A.7., and
are subject to approval by the referee. Whenever a dead-ball hinder
is called, the rally is replayed and any previous fault on the server
Rule 4.8 Avoidable hinders.
An avoidable hinder results in an out or a point (See Rule 4.5.E),
depending on whether the offender was serving or receiving. Player
no bearing on an avoidable call. An avoidable hinder should be called
only when a hinder could have been avoided with reasonable effort.
Avoidable hinders are called when:
A. Failure to move.
A player does not move sufficiently to allow his opponent his shot.
(See Interpretation No. 12).
A player moves into a position that effects a block or crowds his opponent
about to return the ball; or, in doubles, one partner creates a hinder
by moving in front of an opponent as his partner is returning the ball.
(See Interpretation No. 13).
C. Moving into ball.
A player moves into the path of and is struck by the ball just played
by his opponent. (See Interpretation No. 14).
A player forcibly pushes an opponent during a rally. (See Interpretation
E. View obstruction.
Moving across an opponent's line of vision just before he strikes the
ball. (See Interpretation No. 16).
Any avoidable distraction or intimidation that would interfere with the
offensive player or team. (See Interpretation No. 17).
G. Stroke interference.
Any positioning that would not allow the opponent to use a normal stroke.
This especially applies to a player moving in too close and being hit
by, or restricting the follow-through of, the player hitting the ball.
(See Interpretation No. 18).
H. Improper equipment.
The loss of any improperly worn equipment, or equipment not required
on court, that interferes with the play or the safety of the players.
(See Interpretation No. 19).
Rule 4.9 Technicals.
A technical is assessed for unsportsman-like conduct or for improperly
wearing eye protection. If a referee issues a technical, one point
shall be deducted from the offender's score. The technical has no
effect on service changes or sideouts. If the technical occurs between
or when the offender has no points, the result will be that the offender's
score will be a negative one. Three technicals in a match, or two
for eye protection infractions, on a player or side will result in
Some examples of actions that may result in technicals are:
1.) Too frequent complaints made against the referee's judgment.
2.) Abuse of appeal privileges.
4.) Excessive arguing.
5.) Threat of any nature to opponent or referee.
6.) Excessive or hard striking, throwing or kicking of ball between
rallies. (See Interpretation No. 20).
7.) Failure to properly wear eye protection.
8.) Protests lost in the absence of timeouts.
9.) Anything considered to be unsportsman-like behavior.
If a player's behavior is not so severe as to warrant a technical,
a technical warning may be issued without a point deduction and should
be accompanied by a brief explanation of the reason for a warning.
technical warning may precede the penalty of a technical but is not
Rule 4.10 Rest periods.
Any player may request a timeout, but not after the referee has announced
the score or called “second serve” after a fault. Timeouts
must not exceed one minute. Three timeouts are allowed each side per
21-point game. Two timeouts are allowed during an 11-point game. Timeouts
may be called consecutively. Players may leave the court during a timeout.
B. Equipment timeout.
At the discretion of the referee, equipment timeouts may be granted for
shoes that come off during play, broken shoelaces, torn equipment, wet
gloves, wet shirts, wet floor, or other reasons. Players are not charged
for such timeouts, and two minutes is the maximum allowed.
No timeout shall be charged to a player who is injured during play. An
injured player shall not be allowed more than a cumulative total of
15 minutes of injury timeout during a match. If the injured player
is unable to resume play after a period totaling 15 minutes, the match
shall be awarded to the opponent. Injury timeouts shall be allowed
only for injuries that occur accidentally during the match. Pre-existing
injuries, illnesses, fatigue or cramps do not warrant injury timeouts.
For any injury, the tournament director or committee, after considering
any available medical opinion, must determine whether the injured player
may be allowed to continue.
D. Between games.
Five-minute rest periods are allowed between games. Players may leave
Part 5. USHA Tournaments
Rule 5.1 Draws.
If possible, the draw shall be made at least two days before the tournament
begins. The seeding method shall be approved by the committee or director.
Rule 5.2 Scheduling.
A. Preliminary matches. Contestants entered in both singles and doubles
may be required to play both events on the same day or night with little
rest between matches. If possible, the schedule should provide a player
at least one hour rest period between all matches.
Final matches. Where one or more players have reached the finals in both
singles and doubles, it is recommended that the singles match be played
first, and a rest period of not less than one hour be allowed between
the finals in singles and doubles.
Rule 5.3 Consolation matches.
Each entrant should be entitled to participate in a minimum of two matches.
Therefore, players who lose their first matches should have the opportunity
to compete in a consolation bracket. In draws of fewer than seven players,
a round-robin bracket may be offered. Consolation matches may be waived
at the discretion of the tournament director, but this waiver should
be in writing on the tournament application.
Rule 5.4 Notice of matches.
After the first round of matches, it is the responsibility of each player
to check the posted schedule to determine the time and place of each
subsequent match. If any change is made in the schedule after posting,
it shall be the duty of the tournament director to notify affected
players of the change.
Rule 5.5 Tournament management.
In all USHA-sanctioned tournaments, the tournament director and/or the
national USHA official in attendance may decide on a change of courts
before, during or after any tournament game if such a change will accommodate
better spectator or player conditions.
Rule 5.6 Tournament conduct.
In all USHA-sanctioned tournaments, the referee is empowered to default
a match if a player conducts himself in a manner detrimental to the
tournament or the game of handball. This includes the authority of
the referee and/or tournament director to remove distractive or abusive
people, and to default a match if such individuals are not removed.
Rule 5.7 Regional and national tournaments.
A. Regional tournaments.
Regional tournaments are to be held each season. A map defining the boundary
lines of each region will be drawn and made available to USHA area commissioners.
Players may play only in the regional tournament for the region in which
they live, with one exception. If the site of a neighboring regional
tournament is closer to a player's city of residence than the site
of the tournament in his own region, he may choose to play in either
the closest regional tournament or in the tournament for his own region.
However, he may play in only one of the two.
The purpose of the USHA-sponsored collegiate competition is to give college
players a chance to showcase their talents under ideal conditions,
and to assist in the promotion of college handball. The Collegiate
Eligibility Rules are printed in Handball Magazine each year with the
official entry blank.
The purpose of the USHA Junior program is to promote a worthwhile competition
on the local and national levels, and to stimulate an ideal introduction
to the game. It is encouraged for Junior events to be held in conjunction
with all USHA-sanctioned tournaments.
Rule 5.8 Eligibility.
All entrants in any USHA event
must be current USHA members.
A.) Age group divisions.
In any division designated by a minimum age (Seniors, Masters, etc.),
the entrant must reach the proper age on or before December 31 of the
calendar year in which he participates. For example, a player who is
39 is allowed to enter the Masters (40-plus) if he turns 40 before
December 31 of the year in which the tournament is scheduled. In any
designated by a maximum age (Juniors, Challengers, etc.), the player
cannot have passed the age of eligibility until the scheduled end of
the tournament. For example, a player entering the 15-and-under division
cannot reach his 16th birthday until the tournament is scheduled to end.
Above rules amended Jan. 31, 1999
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