Water Polo is a game of strength, speed and endurance, requiring all the
skills of land based ball games. It further challenges participants by
requiring them to play in deep water. Excellent ball skills and exceptional
swimming ability are extremely important prerequisites in the modern game.
* The field of play is 30 x 20 metres for men and 25 x 20 metres for women,
each area having a minimum depth of 1.8 metres (preferably 2 metres).
* Each team is permitted to have thirteen players, with seven (a goalkeeper
and six field players) participating at any one time.
* Players may be substituted throughout the game. The player wishing to be
substituted swims to the exclusion zone and upon reaching this area may be
* The Senior?s game is played in four quarters of eight minutes actual
playing time (the clock stops on a whistle and is re-started on the
resumption of play). Two minutes break is provided to the players between
1st and 2nd quarter and 3rd and 4th quarter. Half time is, usually, five
minutes. Age group games are often played in 5 or 6 minute quarters.
* Each team may call two time-outs during the match at any time when they
are in possession of the ball. A time-out lasts for 45 seconds with a
further 15 seconds to reset the players in the pool.
* As the players manoeuvre for position in front of the goal, physical
contact is the rule rather than the exception. The referee indicates fouls
by blowing a whistle and indicating with an arm signal the direction of
attack at the taking of the throw.
* A goal is awarded when the ball is thrown or pushed completely past the
face of the goal. The referee will indicate the cap number of the goal
scorer by hand signals.
Three important timing considerations are integral to the game.
* The first is a clock that indicates the amount of time remaining in the
quarter currently being played. This clock starts on the games length time
8 minutes or less and counts down to zero. Every time the referee blows the
whistle, the clock will be stopped. When the ball is back in play, the
clock will start running again.
* The second is a thirty second possession clock. This counts downwards
from thirty seconds and is restarted after a shot at goal, 2 metres corner
throw (the ball being put out behind the goal line by the goal keeper only,
or deliberately by a defending player), change of possession or on the
exclusion of any player. The team in possession must take a shot at goal
before the expiry of thirty seconds or the team is ordered to turn over
possession to the opposition.
* The third is the counting down of the twenty seconds exclusion period for
any player taken from the water for a major foul. The excluded player must
remain out of play until the expiration of twenty seconds or until his/her
team regains possession.
* Each quarter is started with the teams lined up on opposite goal lines.
On a whistle signal from the referee the teams sprint towards the centre of
the pool for the ball. The ball is thrown in by the referee or placed in a
circular float, which is lowered when the sprinting players approach the
ball. The team winning possession of the ball proceeds with its attack.
Fouls incurred in water polo are known as either ordinary/minor fouls or
major fouls. Ordinary fouls include:
* touching the ball with two hands (goalkeeper excluded);
* taking the ball under water when tackled;
* impeding an opponent who is not holding the ball:
* pushing off an opponent;
* undue delay in taking a free throw.
When the referee calls an ordinary foul, the team awarded the foul receives
the ball (free throw) at the point of the offence, or at the current
location of the ball (if that is further from the goal he/she is
attacking). The player must then put the ball into play without undue
delay with a free throw. The free throw can include the player throwing to
him/herself either with a small toss up into the air or dropping the ball
onto the water.
The referees refrain from declaring a foul if it would be an advantage to
team. In contrast to many games, once advantage is given the game cannot go
Referees refrain from declaring a foul if there is still a possibility to
play the ball.
Major fouls include
* holding, sinking or pulling back an opponent not in possession of the
ball (possession is when the ball is actually on the hand);
* interfering with a free throw;
* an ordinary foul during "dead time";
* splashing water.
Major fouls may result in four different courses of action depending on the
circumstances. The player may:
* be excluded for twenty seconds or until a change of possession (whichever
* have a five metre penalty awarded against him/her, which does not require
leaving the water unless it is the third major foul recorded against
* be excluded for the remainder of the match with replacement;
* be excluded for the remainder of the match with replacement after four
minutes (brutality) a penalty shot is also giving against the team of the
TYPICAL GAME PLAYS
O - defender
X - attacker
In the Press, the defenders stay up close to the attackers, limiting the
attacker?s chances to get a clear shot and making passing between players
difficult. Often the defenders try and mark the attacking Centre Forward in
front. The player with the ball will attempt to get a good pass to the
Centre Forward attacker who attempts to either score or draw a ?kick out?
(major foul, usually on the Centre Defender)).
In the Drop, the defender nears the attacker with the ball presses while
the other defender drop back into a zone. If the ball is passed to the
Centre Forward it can then often be ?stolen?. If the ball is passed to
another attacker, eg O, the pressing defender drops back in the zone and
the player nearest the attacker with the ball swims out to press.
Two on one counter attack
X1 has ?the break? in a counter attack. The defender O2 must stay close on
X2. If O2 tries to cover X1 and X2 then O2 will end up between them with
both of them free. The goalie must respond only to O1 and do a probably
impossible job. A counter attack frequently begins just before the expiry
of the 30s clock.