Basic Water Polo Rules

Learn the basic water polo rules and enjoy a team sport is a combination of soccer, hockey, and basketball played in a pool. Water polo is a contact sport that is referred to keep the contact fair and safe, making it a great game of kids or adults. The game has goalies, plenty of physical contact, lots of water, and a penalty box.

  1. Water Polo Game Length. A water polo game has four quarters that are seven minutes long with a 35 second shot clock. There are two minutes rest periods between each quarter.
  2. Water Polo Teams. Each water polo team has six players and a goalkeeper. Each team is allowed six substitute players. Players may be substituted after a goal is scored, after a rest period, or during a time out.
  3. Start of Water Polo Play. There is a swim off at the start of each game and each quarter. Both the players of both team line up at the goal line, the referee blows a whistle, and the players swim to the center of the pool where the ball is dropped by the referee. First player to the ball takes possession and puts the ball in play.
  4. The Game of Water Polo. Once the ball is in play, players move through the field of play by swimming. Each player is allowed to touch the ball with only one hand at a time to shoot or pass the ball, except the goalie, who is allowed to touch the ball with both hands. Players are not allowed to use the bottom of the pool to push off. The goalie guards a large netted goal. The object of play is to drive the ball into position to score a goal.
  5. Scoring at Water Polo. A point is awarded when a ball is successfully thrown behind the goal line.
  6. Ordinary Water Polo Fouls. An ordinary foul is committed when a player holds onto the wall or uses it to push off during play, a player takes the ball under water in a tackle, a player uses two hands on the ball, a player prevents the free movement of another player, a player pushes off an opponent, a player is caught inside the opponent’s red marker when not in passion of the ball, a player delays a free throw and runs time off the clock, and/or a player splashes water in the face of another player.
  7. Exclusion Water Polo Fouls. An exclusion foul results in a kickout, which excludes the player committing the foul from 20 seconds of play.  A penalty shot is given to the fouled team which is made from the five meter line directly in front of the goal.  Examples of an exclusion foul are interfering with a free throw, blocking a player using two hand, and challenging a Referee with the use of bad language or gestures.
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