A water polo athlete needs to have the over-arm accuracy of a baseball pitcher, the vertical skills of a volleyball player, the toughness of a rugby and a hockey player, the endurance of a cross-country skier and the strategy of a chess player.
Water Polo is a team sport in which two teams compete in the pool in an effort to score the most points by throwing a Water Polo ball into the opponent’s goal. Each team is permitted to have no more than 7 players in the pool during games, including 6 field players who may only use one hand to control, pass and shoot the ball and are not permitted to touch the bottom or push off of the walls. Additionally, each team has a goalie who is permitted to use both hands to control the ball.
During a game the players will swim, tread water, dribble, pass, shoot & block the Water Polo ball while performing both offensive and defensive duties. Unlike competitive swimming, Water Polo players will verbally communicate with each other while in the pool.
Each team is managed by a coach who offers direction and feedback to the players. Additionally, the games are supervised by a referee who uses his voice, hand signals and a whistle to start and stop the action, determine fouls, assess penalties, signal ball possession, and to confirm when a team scores.
This sport has similarities to soccer, basketball and hockey, but it is played in the water rather than on a grass field, hard court or ice rink. The length of time for each game depends upon the age groups competing. Like basketball, each team must shoot at the opponent’s goal within a specified time frame and the team with the most points at the end of a game wins. While there is some physical contact in this sport, the level is no more than soccer and basketball.
While the pool playing field sizes can vary, the minimal pool length & width are 75 feet by 43 feet. The equipment needed to play the game includes a Pool, 2 Goals, Water Polo Balls, Swim Suits, Swim Caps, and Protective Water Polo Game Caps. Further, players are not permitted to wear eyeglasses or goggles during games and they must maintain well-trimmed fingernails and toenails to prevent scratches!
For over 100 years Water Polo has been tremendously popular in many countries around the world. While the game has also been played in the United States since the late 1800's, it popularity was primarily limited to only a few regions around the country. Fortunately in recent years the sport has expanded into other areas of the US where many boys, girls, men & women are now playing this fun and exciting sport at the youth, high school, collegiate and international levels.