Water Polo Info

Please see these links and background information on water polo rules, skills and strategy for interested players and fans.

Rules and Game Information
Videos from YouTube
How to Watch Water Polo from Collegiate Water Polo Association

Water Polo can be a confusing game for spectators. The whistle is constantly blowing and the play never stops, even when someone is ejected for a penalty. In addition, there are many misconceptions about the game, including how the players keep their horses swimming. Well hang in there, because the following information should help to make the picture much clearer.

General Information
  • Each team has six field players and a goalie.
  • Field players can only use one hand to touch the ball, goalies two.
  • Games consist of 7-minute quarters for club divisions, 8-minutes for varsity divisions.
  • The object of the game is to score, by placing the ball completely in the goal. Players may move the ball by swimming or passing.
  • Teams may substitute after a goal is scored, during a time-out, or during the play from the ejection area.
  • Each team receives three time-outs and one 20-second time-out per game.
  • Shots blocked out of bounds by defensive players result in the defensive team receiving possession. If a defender uses two hands to block a shot, the offensive team receives a penalty shot.
When an infraction of the rules occurs, the referee will point in the direction of the team taking possession, while blowing his whistle. The ball is put back into play with an action called a free throw. This means the player gets three seconds of free time to throw the ball to another teammate or swim it up the pool. A player cannot shoot his free throw unless outside the five-meter line. If the ball is not put into play within three seconds, the other team takes possession.

Fouls can be ordinary or major. Ordinary fouls are best understood as minor fouls. For example, a defender may reach over an opponent's back to get at the ball while facing away from the goal. The penalty for an ordinary foul is a free throw for the opposing team.

Major fouls are more severe and are penalized accordingly. For example, when a defender fouls an opponent too aggressively, or from behind when the opponent is facing the goal, the defender is ejected for 20 seconds (players may reenter if their team recovers the ball before the ejection time is up, or if the opposing team scores). 

When the foul occurs within five meters of the goal and the referee believes the player had a high chance of scoring, the opposition shoots a penalty shot. Major fouls can also occur through disrespect to the referee or when a player interferes with an opponent's free throw. Players may only receive three major fouls before elimination.

If all of this has you totally confused, just sit back and enjoy the game. The easiest way to follow the play is by watching the scoreboard. If your team is ahead at the end, great! If not, well consider that you have expanded your horizons. When the game is over, you can at least explain to your friends that the horses never get wet.