The Basics Of Water Polo

Water polo is a great sport for improving your health and fitness, as well as refreshing your mind, so why not get involved?

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The aim of water polo

Generally speaking, water polo is a simple game – the aim being to push, carry or throw the ball into the opponent’s goal.

The water polo pool

The water polo pool is at least 1.8m (5.91ft) deep, with a goal 3m (9.84ft) wide and at least 0.9m (2.95ft) high. The goal is marked by vertical posts, a crossbar, and nets – which is the same as in football or hockey.

For the men’s version of water polo, the pool is 30m long x 20m wide. Women play in a smaller pool which has dimensions of 25m x 17m.

There are important lines on the pool deck which mark out specific areas in which the rules of play are special. The most important are:

  • 2m lines – These are 2m out from the goalposts on both sides of the pool. Only players with possession of the ball are allowed within the 2m area – otherwise possession of the ball is lost.
  • 5m lines – The locations from which penalty shots are taken on the goal. A penalty shot is given to a player who is fouled within the 5m line while he/she is in an active attempt to score.

The teams in water polo

  • Squads are made up of 13 players, with a maximum of seven allowed in the pool at any one time.
  • The goalkeepers are the only players who are allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. Keepers are not allowed in the other half of the pool.
  • In front of the goalkeeper are two banks of three players: three guards in defence, two wingers, and a centre forward in attack.
  • One team wears approved coloured caps with white numbers from two to 13, and the other team wears white caps with blue numbers. Each goalkeeper wears a red cap with a number one on it.

The game of water polo

  • Water polo games consist of four eight-minute periods.
  • A game begins with the ball in the centre of the pool, and both teams sprint for it from their own goal lines.
  • If the scores are level at the end of regular time, two extra periods of three minutes each are played.
  • If no side has won then a sudden-death period is played, where the first team to score wins the match.