Water polo is a team-based sport that is played in a pool and requires the ability to swim to play. There are six players on each team in water polo, and one goal keeper per team, making a total of seven players in play at a given time. There are a maximum of six substitutes per game and the winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals on the opposing player’s side. Water polo is played by swimming, passing of the game ball, and scoring goals by sending the ball past the goalie of the opposing team. Water polo has similar characteristics of sports that are played on land, such as soccer and hockey. It is currently the oldest team sport still played in the Olympics.
Water Polo Rules:
The following explanation of rules is based on the latest FINA Water Polo Rules 2005-2009.
Basic Water Polo Rules:
Water polo rules limit the total number of players on each team during a water polo match to seven. Six positional players and one goalkeeper are active in the field of play at once. In most instances, the visiting team wears a white cap and the home team wears a darker colored cap; usually blue in color. Goaltenders on both teams wear quartered red caps and are always the number ’1′. According to official water polo rules, teams are allowed to substitute players, even during game play, but they must only enter and exit at the corner of the pool. During stoppage of play, substitutes can also be made.
Clock and Time Rules:
Depending on the level of play, each period is about 5 to 8 minutes in length and a total number of five periods is played. The game clock is stopped when the ball is considered out of play. This means that the ball leaves the pool or a foul is committed. It is also stopped when a goal is scored by one of the teams. In real time, each period takes about 12 minutes to complete.
When a team has possession of the ball, they have 30 seconds of possession time to shoot the ball at the goal, unless a player on the opposing team commits a foul. If 30 seconds passes, the ball is automatically turned over to the opposing team. The shot clock is reset to 30 seconds if the team takes a shot on net and regains control of the ball after the rebound.
Water Polo Goals:
Water polo goals occur when the ball is thrown past the opposing team’s goalie and into the net. Different shots are taken which are unique to the sport that are used to score water polo goals. A shot may be bounced off the water to trick an opposing goal and catch him or her off guard. A “lob” may be thrown to catch a goalie off guard as well, when a balls can be gently thrown at an angle over the goalie to score water polo goals.