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The rules of water polo

If you are wondering about the rules of water polo, then this list is for you. We gathered clean and to the point information so that you can get a peek into the world of this exciting sport. Bellow, you have in detail some of the rules that make this game so compelling.



The game is played in a pool, as the rules of water polo for dummies state. The dimensions are not standard, and they can vary. Water polo rules say the minimum water depth should be of 1.8 meters, but that is not always the case.

The layout shows markings in red and yellow at 2 and 5 meters and a halfway line in white. At the end and the length/width of the pool is a goal.

The goals can be 3 meters wide and 90 cm in height. The balls are yellow and have different sizes in different categories. There’s also a ”five-meter line” where penalties are decided that is marked by a yellow line.


The players

Seniors games have seven players on each team, including the goalkeeper. Younger categories have six players. If a player is caught committing a foul, then the team will have one less teammate.

Players can be changed after fouls or during timeouts, and they enter and exit through the corner of the poor, right next to their goal. After the game is over, one can leave or enter anywhere they want.

If during the match a team has more players then it’s allowed, the opposing team has the right to a penalty. Although, there can only be one goalkeeper for each team at all times.


The gear

Just like any game, water polo has its own equipment. The ball is the focal point, and it is usually yellow, so it’s easy to spot. It comes in two sizes and is designed using a rough texture so the players can grip it easily.

The goals in water polo are different than the ones used in other ball games. They need to float on water to stay still to be of use. And, of course, two goals are required for each game.

Other pieces of equipment include the cap to avoid injury, a mouth guard, and the appropriate swimwear, so the player moves seamlessly in the water.



At the beginning of the periods, teams line up at the goal. Three players go to each side, and the goalkeeper goes inside it. The sprinter will start the goal if the ball is kicked into the center of the pool.

When the referee whistles, the basic rules of water polo say, the teams have to swim to the middle as the referee drops the ball. The first group that recovers it becomes the attacker until the defenders takes it from them.

There are cases when a foul is given before the teams reach the ball if a swimmer uses the side for speed advantages. If this happens, the defenders receive a free throw from the halfway line.



The rules and regulations of water polo say that when the ball passes between the goalposts and is under the crossbar, a goal is scored. If a ball bounces off a goal post into the field, it is rebounded by the players, and then they reset the shot clock.

If it reaches into the deck, the ball is given to the defense. This doesn’t happen if the goalie is the last one to touch the ball. In this case, the offense gets the ball at the two-meter line.

If the goalie manages to block a shot, the defense can have control of the ball and could decide to make a long pass to a player that stayed in his offensive part of the pool.



Fouls happen when a player prevents free movement of opponents that are not holding the ball. One foul is when a player reaches over the shoulder of a player from the opponent’s team to knock the ball and hinders him.

The major fault happens when the defensive players pull or hold with both hands the opponent that has a chance of capturing the ball. It includes dunking, pulling back and intentional splashing.

A brutality foul is when a player strikes or kicks an opponent with the intent of hurting him. If charged with a brutality, a player will be disqualified from the game.


The officials

The most important official is the referee that has ultimate power when it comes to decisions.

The goal judge is not always available. Usually, they participate in high profile competitions. They signal when a goal is scored, improper enterings and say when it’s ok for the play to start.

The table officials are the timekeepers, and they track correct information regarding how the game is played. They also keep track of how the players behave.



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