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Just like chess pieces maneuver on a board, every player in handball has a unique role to fulfill on the court.

Discover the tactical symphony of handball positions and roles with our essential guide and chart breakdown.

  • The Goalkeeper is the last bastion of defense, the agile guardian whose reflexes and daring saves can turn the tide of any game.
  • The Left Wing is the fleet-footed sniper, hugging the sideline and firing in goals from sharp angles.
  • The Left Back is the robust cannon-arm, powering shots through defenses with strength and precision from a distance.
  • The Center Back is the mastermind, the playmaker who pulls the strategic strings and dictates the flow of the game.
  • The Pivot (Circle Runner or Line Player) is the team’s fulcrum, a crafty operator who outsmarts defenders and creates openings.
  • The Right Back is the versatile sharpshooter, adept at penetrating defenses and unleashing powerful strikes.
  • The Right Wing mirrors the left, a quick-strike artist who completes the wing assault with speed and finesse.
Handball positions with the numbers as they are known:
1–Goalkeeper 2–Left Wing 3–Left Back 4–Center Back 5–Pivot 6–Right Back 7–Right Wing

#1 Goalkeeper

  • 🏆 Renowned Goalkeepers: Thierry Omeyer, Niklas Landin Jacobsen, Mattias Andersson, and Henning Fritz

The Goalkeeper’s main responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring by blocking shots on goal. They are the last line of defense and often the starting point of an attack after a successful save or interception.

On offense, while they don’t typically venture out, they can launch long passes to initiate fast breaks. On defense, they not only block shots but also guide and communicate with their defenders to organize the team’s defensive formation.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Excellent reflexes and quick decision-making.
  • Good understanding of angles and anticipation of opponents’ shots.
  • Strong communication skills to lead and organize the defense.
  • Agility and flexibility.

#2 Left Wing

  • 🏆 Renowned Left Wingers: Uwe Gensheimer, Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, Juanín García, and Stefan Kretzschmar

The Left Wing is responsible for quick attacks from the left side and often tries to outflank the defense to receive the ball in a favorable position for scoring, particularly on fast breaks. They need to be adept at finishing from difficult angles.

Defensively, Left Wingers cover the opponent’s right wingers and work to prevent breakthroughs from the wing position. They also assist in closing down the angle for opponent’s wing shots.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Speed and agility to excel in fast breaks.
  • Ability to shoot accurately from sharp angles.
  • Good defensive mobility to cover opposing wingers.
  • Endurance to maintain high-intensity sprints throughout the game.

#3 Left Back

  • 🏆 Renowned Left Backs: Mikkel Hansen, Nikola Karabatic, Laszlo Nagy, and Filip Jicha

The Left Back is a powerful offensive player who shoots from a distance and penetrates the defense. They work in tandem with the center back to create opportunities and can either take shots or set up plays.

On defense, the Left Back is responsible for the opponent’s right backs. They should be strong and tall to block shots and engage in 1-on-1 defense against their opponents.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Strong shooting skills from distance.
  • Physical strength to penetrate defenses.
  • Tactical intelligence to read the game and create plays.
  • Height and blocking ability on defense.

#4 Center Back

  • 🏆 Renowned Center Backs: Ivano Balic, Raul Entrerrios, William Accambray, and Paul Drux

The Center Back is often the main organizer of the offense, similar to a playmaker. They call plays, distribute the ball, and can also challenge the defense with their shots or penetrating dribbles.

Defensively, this position covers the opposing center back. They play a crucial role in coordinating team defense and often face-off against some of the most dynamic players on the opposing team.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Strategic understanding to orchestrate the offense.
  • Ability to take shots from distance and to penetrate.
  • Defensive skills for intercepting balls and close man coverage.
  • Stamina and mental sharpness to maintain control throughout the game.

#5 Pivot (Circle Runner / Line Player)

  • 🏆 Renowned Pivots: Julen Aguinagalde, Bjarte Myrhol, Igor Vori, and Bertrand Gille

The Pivot is an essential part of the offense, playing with their back to the goal. They create space through tactical positioning and screens, receive the ball in tight spaces, and can turn to face the goal for quick shots. Their movement is key to disrupting the defensive formations.

Defensively, Pivots often guard the opposition’s pivot or assist in the ‘block defense’, using their size and awareness to neutralize threats in the pivot area.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Strength and body control to maintain position and handle physical contact.
  • Quick turning and shooting close to the goal.
  • Game awareness to find space and create opportunities for teammates.
  • Defensive understanding to disrupt the opponents’ pivot play.

#6 Right Back

  • 🏆 Renowned Right Backs: Kim Ekdahl Du Rietz, Dainis Kristopans, Kyung-Shin Yoon, and Jicha

Similar to the left back, the Right Back must exhibit strong shooting from long range and the ability to break through the defense. They are tasked with providing attacking power from the right side and are crucial for maintaining offensive balance.

On defense, the Right Back is responsible for guarding the opposing team’s left backs. They need to combine height, strength, and agility to effectively contest shots and engage in physical one-on-one defense.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Powerful arm for long-range shooting.
  • Physicality to withstand and execute penetrative moves.
  • Defensive stature and skill to challenge opponent shooters.
  • Flexibility in offensive play styles.

#7 Right Wing

  • 🏆 Renowned Right Wingers: Luc Abalo, Victor Tomas, Mirza Dzomba, and Lars Christiansen

The Right Wing mirrors the responsibilities of the left wing, specializing in quick attacks and scoring from the right side of the court. They are expected to be highly agile to quickly reach advantageous shooting positions and execute sharp angle shots.

Defensively, they cover opposing left wingers. Their speed and agility help in intercepting passes and aiding the transition from defense to offense.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Fast and agile for high-speed play.
  • Accuracy in shooting from the wing positions.
  • Good defensive positioning to steal balls and initiate fast breaks.
  • Endurance and quick reaction times.

Hybrid Positions

Defensive Specialist

Focusing on denying opponents’ attacks, a Defensive Specialist possesses excellent blocking skills, anticipatory defense tactics, and a robust physical presence to disrupt offensive plays effectively.

Playmaker or Center Back

A Playmaker controls the game’s tempo, possessing superior ball-handling, strategic vision, and the ability to create scoring opportunities for teammates while managing the attack.


Speed and agility define the Wingman, who excels in fast breaks, precise wing shots, and defending against opposing wingers, critical for counter-attacking and wide defensive coverage.

Pivot or Line Player

Pivots excel in close combat near the goal, using strength and positioning to create scoring chances or draw defenders, enabling a dynamic offense and facilitating scoring opportunities for shooters.

Hybrid Back/Wing

This player combines attributes of a Center Back and Wingman, offering playmaking skills and speed on the wings, versatile in both central and lateral offensive and defensive roles.


Rarely used, a Goalkeeper-Player can act as a field player, contributing to offensive plays during crucial moments or power-plays, and must possess field player skills and tactical awareness.

Understanding each player’s function on the court is crucial, just as recognizing why handball is considered the hardest sport can offer insight into the physical and strategic demands of the game.



What are the positions and roles in Handball?

Goalkeeper, Left and Right Wings, Left and Right Backs, Center Back, Pivot, and Specialist Defender are the Handball positions and roles, each requiring unique skills and tactical understanding.

How do I choose a position in Handball?

Assessing your physical abilities, tactical understanding, and personal preferences is how you choose a position in Handball. Your coach can also provide guidance based on the team’s needs.

What Handball positions are for beginners?

Left or Right Wing are the best Handball positions for beginners, as they allow players to get involved in the game with clear objectives and less complex defensive duties.


In handball, each position, from the Goalkeeper to the Pivot, is crucial, embodying specific duties that contribute to team success.

From the Centre Backs’ creativity to the Wing players’ precision and the Backs’ defensive prowess, every role plays a part in the sport’s strategic and rapid gameplay.

With evolving positions and players adopting versatile roles, handball emphasizes both personal skill and team synergy.

This leads to a dynamic exhibition of athleticism, where each action—from passes to blocks and goals—showcases the sport’s complex coordination and collective ambition for victory.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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