Water Polo Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Water Polo, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

How to Play Water Polo

Water Polo is the oldest continuous team sport, and was among one of the first team sports introduced at the modern Olympic games. Water Polo draws many similarities to land based sport of handball.

Water Polo History

Water Polo finds its origins in late 19th Century England and Scotland. The sport evolved out of a demonstration of strength and swimming skill. Water polo is now popular in many countries around the world, notably Europe (particularly in Hungary, Greece, Italy, Russia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro), the United States, Canada and Australia.

Water Polo Rules

A team is made up of six field players and one goalkeeper with up to six substitutes. Pool size can vary from between 20 x 10 and 30 x 20 meters, with a minimum depth of 1.8 meters or six ft. Water Polo goals are three meters wide and 90 centimeters high. The object of the game is to throw the ball into the opposing team's goal. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals. A game is composed of four, five to eight minute periods. The game clock is stopped when the ball is not in play due to a foul or if the ball leaves the pool. Offensive teams have 30 seconds to shoot the ball. The shot clock is reset after a shot or change of possession.

A player can advance the ball by passing to teammates or swimming while pushing the ball in front of them. The goalkeeper is the only player who can touch the ball with both hands at any time. Fouls result in a free throw. A player fouled cannot shoot at the goal unless they are beyond the "5 meter" line. Common fouls include pushing, grabbing, impeding a player who does not have the ball, and dunking a player intentionally.

Substitutes can enter and exit the game when play is stopped.

Water Polo Tips

A good Water Polo player should feel very comfortable in the pool. Players should train by practicing swimming with their head out of the water, so they are able to observe the field during a game. Similarly, players should practice a sitting backstroke for defensive purposes. Players can work on their ball handling skills by throwing and catching the ball with one hand while in the water. A good player is able to tread water for a long period of time while getting his/her upper body high out the water for a block, pass, or shot.

Water Polo Equipment

To play Water Polo you need a Water Polo ball, and two goals.