Last updated: 16/10/2022

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As a handball player, you need a lot of concentration and stamina to play well. But a good ball is just as important. But what types of handballs are there and what is the difference between a training ball and a match ball? We answer these and many other questions in our Handball Test 2023.

Our editorial team has compared various handballs and picked out seven favourites. This will make it easier for you to find the right ball for you and invest your money well.

You can also find out which features make it easy to recognise a well-made handball and which size is best for you.

The most important facts in a nutshell

  • The most important criterion when buying a handball is its grip. You should be able to hold the ball securely in your hand even with sweaty hands.
  • Handballs are divided into training balls and match balls, whereby match balls are subject to precise regulations regarding size, weight, roundness and bounce.
  • Handballs are available in sizes 0, 1, 2 and 3. The size of the ball depends on the age group and gender.

The Best Handball: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a handball

What kind of handballs are there?

Handballs come in different materials, sizes and colour combinations. They are manufactured by the brands Hummel, Select, Kempa, Adidas, Molten, Erima and Derbystar.

Handball is usually played indoors. That is why most balls are designed to be played on indoor surfaces. For other surfaces (such as sand), there are specially adapted handballs. (Image source: rovin /

Handballs are primarily developed for indoor use, which is noticeable in the material and the surface. They have to be able to bounce on the hall floor, which is why they are elastic in nature.

You can choose between leather, plastic and soft handballs, whereby the latter are only allowed for the youngest handball players in games and are otherwise only used for precision training, as they are very soft.

If you want to use your handball outdoors, you should definitely not buy a leather ball, as it absorbs moisture and becomes hard and breaks when it dries. A plastic handball, on the other hand, keeps its shape and grip in all weather conditions, which is why it is suitable for indoors and outdoors.

Which material is better cannot be said across the board. Some players prefer to play with leather balls, others prefer the plastic handball. Just try throwing, catching and bouncing with both types, you will notice which ball fits better in your hand.

Besides normal handballs, there are also beach handballs. These are not suitable for indoor use and indoor balls are not suitable for use on the beach field in the sand. A beach handball is smaller and lighter than a normal handball and is very difficult to bounce on the indoor floor. Since a beach handball differs greatly from the indoor standards, it is not approved for official indoor games.

Which handball size is intended for which age?

Depending on the age group and gender, a different handball size is used. There are four different sizes in total. The ball differs not only in circumference but also in weight.

Handballs come in sizes 0, 1, 2 and 3:

Handball size Age group Ball circumference Ball weight
0 Under 8 years 46-48 cm Not specified
1 8-12 years (boys) 50-52 cm 290-330 g
1 8-14 years (girls) 50-52 cm 290-330 g
2 From 12 years (boys) 54-56 cm 325-400 g
2 From 14 years (girls) 54-56 cm 325-400 g
3 From 16 years (boys, men) 58-60 cm 425-475 g

The ball sizes are based on the strength and hand size of the players, which is why girls often play with smaller and lighter handballs than boys at the same age.

Note: The sizes and weights are defined by the IHF (International Handball Federation) and correspond to an international standard, except for ball size 0.

What is the difference between a training ball and a match ball?

Many handball models are available in two different versions: As a training ball and as a match ball. In terms of appearance, the balls do not really differ from each other at first. However, the match ball is always more expensive than the training ball because it is made of higher quality materials and the manufacturing process was more elaborate.

A match ball must meet precise weight and size specifications, as well as have a certain roundness and good bounce. Only then is it marked with the IHF (International Handball Federation) seal of approval and allowed to be used officially as a match ball.

Depending on the brand and model, a training ball also has high-quality features. They are designed for everyday training use and often feature robust, hard-wearing materials that ensure extreme durability.

Note: In theory, games should be played with a match ball, but in practice this is not the case, which is why it is also possible to play with good training balls without any problems.

When should you buy your own handball?

Some clubs provide their teams with age-appropriate balls for training and matches. This is especially common in the mini- and E-youth areas, but also for teams that play in higher leagues. If there are no filled ball nets in your club, you have to organise your own handball.

It should be said, however, that it is never wrong to buy your own handball. Because then you can practice and improve your throwing pattern independently at home or on weekends in the hall between games, for example. Besides, every player has different preferences regarding material, size, weight and often also brand. The important thing is that the ball feels good in your hand and that you can grip it well.

When do I need a new handball?

When your handball feels “worn”, i.e. the texture of the surfaces is worn and therefore feels slippery, a handball should be replaced at the latest. Depending on the regularity of use, this happens faster or slower.

It can also happen that a ball becomes deformed and is no longer properly round or a seam bursts. Then the ball can easily bounce away or quickly become flat. Even then, a handball should be replaced immediately.

Many handball players use the beginning of the season to buy a new ball. Otherwise, it is advisable to replace a ball every two years, as the material and grip significantly lose quality over time.

Is every ball suitable for resin?

No, not all ball surfaces tolerate sticky adhesives such as resin.

Especially with cheap plastic handballs, it often happens that the adhesive destroys the surface of the ball. The result is a torn surface and a slippery ball.

To be sure whether a model is suitable for resin, it is best to read customer reviews. Many balls also state in the description whether the ball is suitable for the use of adhesive.

Did you know that the Select brand developed the first “self-adhesive” handball?

The trigger for the development was the ban on resin for certain players or in many sports halls. The Select Maxi Grip with its sticky surface gives the balls a good grip without any resin, so that hall floors and jerseys are not soiled. Clubs often incur high costs for cleaning hall floors when using resin, which could be avoided with this innovation.

Where can I buy a handball and how much do they cost?

You can buy a handball in a (sports) shop as well as on the internet. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages: In a specialist shop, there are salespeople who can advise you.

This is a good opportunity, especially for handball beginners, to get additional information about specific characteristics and differences of handball models so that you can make a good choice. You can also hold the handball in your hand and feel whether the ball meets your expectations before buying.

A handball treated with resin is almost sticky to the hand. But be careful: not every handball is suitable for resin. (Photo source: ooscario /

Unfortunately, there is often only a limited selection of handballs in specialised shops. Especially the latest models are often searched for in vain. There are many suppliers online who sell handballs.

Specialised handball retailers have the largest selection, but even here there are differences in which models are offered. That’s why you should always research on several sites. This will help you get the best price for your favourite model.

If you don’t want to miss out on buying advice altogether, you can read customer reviews on Amazon before you buy. Of course, you can also combine both options by first getting an overview on the internet and then testing the ball in a specialist shop, if it is available there. If you like it, just look where you can get a better price.

The prices of handballs can vary not only by supplier but also by type. Basically, however, prices vary from a few euros to just under €40.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate handballs

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate handballs. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Grip
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Bounce
  • Processing

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.


In order for you to be able to grip a ball well without adhesive aids, it must have a good grip. The surface texture is responsible for this.

A handball must not become slippery even when wet, so that you can always hold the ball securely in your hand, even in the last minute of the game. When buying a handball, make sure that you can hold it well and that it does not simply fall out of your hand. Only then can you control your ball perfectly.

Did you know that only resin is used in the top handball leagues?

In professional sports and intensive training, handball resin is an important companion. It prevents the ball from slipping out of the hand due to its surface and strengthens the grip as well as the handling when throwing and catching. Handball resin is available in different versions – natural and synthetic resin, for spraying and for manual application.

Adhesives such as waxes and resins can improve the grip of a ball. However, the use of adhesive aids must be learned, as the ball sits much more firmly in the hand and will stick in the hand if the throwing technique is incorrect. In many halls it is forbidden to use a sticking aid as it leaves residue on the hall floor.


You should make sure when buying that you choose a handball that is appropriate for your gender and age group as listed above.

Not all training balls are the right size, so make sure that the size does not deviate from the IHF specification, otherwise you will have difficulty throwing.


The weight of the ball is crucial for its flight characteristics. The heavier a ball is, the higher the speed it can reach. With light balls, more precise throwing is possible.

In general, however, the weight must be appropriate for the gender and age group. For many women, for example, a ball weighing 450 g (equivalent to ball size 3) is simply too heavy, resulting in inaccurate and powerless throws.


Since you often move around with your ball in handball, but are not allowed to hold it in your hand all the time, you have to bounce the ball a lot. A good bounce is very important, especially when you are running fast, because a ball that bounces too weakly will slow you down.

Of course, there must be enough air on the ball so that it bounces well off the floor.


Take a closer look at the ball’s seams. This is how you can tell if a handball has been well made. The stitching must be tightly bound so that the ball has a round shape and is resistant to hard shocks. Especially a hand-sewn ball has these characteristics, because a thicker thread can be used for sewing.

Good workmanship is essential for the longevity of your ball. To be sure that your ball meets these characteristics, look for the IHF seal of approval. They test handballs for the right weight, size, roundness and bounce.

Facts worth knowing about handball

What else do I need besides a suitable ball?

Once you have found the right ball for you and can aim and throw it well, you are ready to play for points. In the beginning, you will be able to get by with clean sports shoes or indoor shoes, but as time goes on, you will need handball shoes. As your feet are exposed to a lot of stress during this running sport, we also recommend handball socks.

Image source: / rovin