Everything That You Need to Know When Joining Water Polo


Water polo is often confused with volleyball because these two have many similarities. However, even though it does seem like volleyball played in the water, it is different and fun as well. Water polo is more like soccer played in the water. It’s similar to soccer is because it is highly competitive. The sport is also a full-contact team one. Each side has field players and a goalkeeper at the goal post. The objective in water polo is to score more goals than your opponent. 

It is also similar to basketball because there is a 30/35-second shot clock when the team in possession of the ball is on the opponent’s side of the field. If you are new to the game you need to understand how this sport is played. This article will give you a rundown of details about this increasingly popular sport.

1.The gear needed in this sport 

a. Pool and Goals

The first thing that players need to play the game is a pool and two goalposts. The size of this pool could vary since the sport doesn’t have regulations for this. Still, the pool should be anything from 20 to 30 meters long and 10 to 20 meters wide. As pertains to depth, the minimum is 1.8 meters. The goals are supposed to have a width of 2 meters and are generally netted similar to soccer goals.

b. Swimwear

When it comes to swimwear women’s water polo suits differ from men’s. Having a swimsuit is necessary whether you are just playing for fun or you are participating in a competition. You should look for a suit that is figure-hugging, to avoid dragging along in the water. This helps to keep you from slowing down ensuring that you can move quickly. In an official water polo game, women are supposed to wear a one-piece suit with a zipper at the back. Straps are absent on the swimsuits to prevent opponents from grabbing you by the straps.

c. The ball

All water polo balls are made using waterproof material with some texture. This ensures that the ball doesn’t sink and that you can easily pick it up or hold it without difficulty. The balls are typically yellow which makes them easily visible. However, in official games, the balls are either red, green, or blue. This is determined by the ages and genders of those competing. 

Understandably, the ball sizes vary. Women’s balls have a circumference of 26.5 inches while the men’s are 28 inches. On average, a polo ball will weigh between 14-16 ounces. In competition, the rules declare that this ball has to be pumped to a pressure of 13 psi.

d. Mouthguard and headgear

In water polo, your headgear is supposed to protect your head and ears from players’ limbs and the ball. The cap also indicates the side of the team that you are on. Furthermore, it differentiates the field players from the goalkeepers. Having a mouth guard is paramount when playing this sport, especially as the goalkeeper. It will protect your teeth from impact by the ball or contact with other players.

2.How does the game work

In water polo, there are two goals at either end of the pool. The winning team is the one with the higher scores. The teams score by getting the ball between these posts. None of the players is allowed to touch the pool’s bottom. Hence, the players have to tread on the water the entire time that they will be playing. This is not easy and thus these players have to have a unique technique. What they do is use a type of movement that is called the “eggbeater”. 

This movement is more efficient when playing on water compared to the usual water-treading movements. During the game, the players can pass the ball to their teammates using two methods. The first is by throwing it to them and the other by pushing this ball in front. Another rule is the player is only supposed to hold this ball with one hand. The only player with an exception is the goalie who is allowed to use both of their hands. Every water polo match begins with a swim-off. The ball is then released at the center of the pitch with players from both teams on either side. 

The team that first reaches the ball gains possession. After a team scores, the match will resume with the other team gaining possession of the ball. Players are supposed to be on their respective sides of the pitch with every resumption. Each water polo match has 2 referees, one on each side. They control the game and are the only ones with the authority to award players with fouls.

3.The number of players

In a majority of the junior and senior water polo games, each team is allowed to have 13 players. However, only 7 of them are allowed onto the pitch at each particular moment. 6 are outfield players, and the 7th is the goalie. Apart from the goalkeeper, all other players continually move around the pool during the course of the game. Most teams have a structure for their players, to increase their chances of winning. They usually have a center back, two drivers, a center back, as well as two wingers. 

To be a water polo player, you need a lot of stamina considering the amount of pushing and holding that comes with the game. Additionally, this sport is fast therefore it is easy to become drained. Of the 13 team members, 6 are substitutes. One of them is a goalie substitute while the rest act as substitutes for the outfields. The outfields can be replaced at any point during the game. However, the goalkeeper is only replaced by the substitute goalie and the same goes for the other players. Lastly, each side can only hold onto the ball for 30 seconds before shooting.

Water polo is an exciting sport divided into four quarters that allow players to display their skills. If you are interested in becoming a water polo player yourself, this article contains all the basics that you need to know about the game.