What Is Water Polo: All The Nitty Witty About It

What Is Water Polo: All The Nitty Witty About It

Have you ever played water polo? Or at least heard of it? Or you must be knowing what is water polo? Well, if the answer to any of these questions is ‘No,’ then you are at the right place. 


The first thing to know when going for this sport is that, while few sports claim to be ‘king of sports,’ water polo officially has this title. We will also explain the other aspects of this game in the article, like rules, objectives, and equipment. 


History Of Water Polo

The first thing to know before we learn about what is water polo is to learn its history. The origin of the water polo game was in Britain. It was also among the first original games that were a part of the first modern Olympics game in 1900.  


This is a zestful team sport that requires all the players to have an optimum level of fitness along with stamina. It features fast and furious action, which makes it both exciting to watch and play. 


Each match of this water sport consists of four quarters in which players use various combinations like treading water, catching, swimming, throwing, and shooting. All this effort by the players is to beat the opposing team in this dynamic game. 


Overseeing Authority

This dynamic game is a popular and official Olympic game. It is overseen by the Federation Internationale de Natation, also known as FINA. 



When we want to know about this water sport, one of the important things is to know its objective. The main objective of this water sport is to score a goal by working as a team. Goal scoring in this game is done by putting the ball in the opposition team’s net. 


Like other types of team sports, water polo players also try to score more goals than the opposing team, thus winning. In this water sport, whether it is men’s or women’s water polo, it is normal to see high-scoring games. In some games, the goals may even go up to 20 for each team. 


Equipment & Water Polo Players

This is yet another important aspect when we want to know about this game. Each team in the game consists of seven water polo players at one time. This number of players is the same in both men’s and women’s water polo. In these seven water polo players, six are outfield players, whereas one is the goalkeeper. 


When it comes to water polo positions, it is very different from other team sports like hockey and soccer. This is because positions in this game are not fixed, and players move from one to another. The position changes in the game are done according to the need and game demands. 


Water polo positions are either defensive or offensive. The offensive positions in the game include a center forward along with the two on wings that play on the pool flanks. The other water polo players include a point around the 5-meter line. 


The defensive positions in this game include only one set in stone is the ‘hole D.’ The job of this player is to defend the goal and goalie by stealing the ball from the opposition. The water polo players, who don’t have a role, are called utility players. 


The utility players in this water sport are the same as the midfield players in soccer. They help out in both the defensive and offensive objectives of the game. 



To play this water sport, not much equipment is needed; however, still, some are essential. These are:

  • A water polo ball.
  • Net.
  • Swimsuits or trunks, depending on the player’s gender. 
  • Swimming caps.
  • A swimming goggle. 


These are some of the equipment that is required to play this game efficiently. They may look basic, but once you know what it is, you will realize their importance. 


Scoring In Water Polo

In this game, a goal is considered when the ball in this water sport passes under the crossbar, completely passing the goal post. The time period for a team to keep the ball in their possession without shooting is 30 seconds. However, if the water polo ball rebounds after the shot are taken, the clock is reset and 30 seconds again start. 


Winning The Water Polo Game

The winning in this water sport is simple; the team with more goals wins. However, if a match ties, then a penalty shootout round is played. In it, all the five players from each team shoot from a 5-meter line alternatively. 


If the penalty round also ties, then the shootout continues. This is done till any of the team misses while the opposition scores a goal. Shootout and overtime is very common phenomenon in this game. 


Water Polo Rules

When we learn about the 

  • The playing area in this game is 30 x 20 meters. The depth is 2 meters.  
  • Teams have 13 total players, out of which seven players are in play at any time while there are six field players. The one more player is the goalie. 
  • Only the goalie can use both hands to hold the ball when he is in 5m of their goal post. All the other players have to use only a single hand for holding the ball in this water sport. 
  • There are four quarters in this water sport, with each lasting eight minutes. After each quarter, there is a two-minute break. 
  • Players in the game advance the water polo ball in front by passing to teammates or by swimming with it in front of them. 
  • Players in this game are not permitted to touch the pool bottom, and they swim or tread water in the entire match. 
  • Teams can only keep a ball in their possession for a period of 30 seconds without shooting it. 
  • A goal in this game is equal to one point that is scored when the ball is thrown or pushed entirely under the crossbar or in the goalpost. 
  • Fouls in this game are of two types, major fouls, and ordinary fouls. A single-player only has a limit of three major fouls. If a player exceeds the limit of three fouls, they are excluded from the game. 
  • If, at the end of four quarters, the game ties, a penalty round is held. In it, the shootouts occur, and they continue till the winner is decided. 


Final Words

Water polo is an Olympic sport. However, it is not that popular, and so when you see the yellow ball flying in the pool, a question may come to your mind: What is water polo?


Whether you are new to the game or just asking out of curiosity, it is a team game. In it, two teams compete like soccer to score a goal against the opposition. 


Jatin Choudhary

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