What Are the Rules of Water Polo

Water polo is a competitive team sport played in a swimming pool, with the objective of scoring goals by throwing a ball into the opposing team’s net. As with any sport, water polo has a set of rules that govern the gameplay and ensure fair competition. Understanding these rules is crucial for players, coaches, and spectators to fully enjoy the game.

1. Pool dimensions: A water polo pool measures 30 meters in length and 20 meters in width. The depth should be at least 1.8 meters to accommodate players’ movements.

2. Teams: Each team consists of seven players, including one goalkeeper. Substitutions can be made during specific intervals or for injured players.

3. Game duration: A water polo match is divided into four quarters, each lasting eight minutes. There is a two-minute break between the first and second quarters, and the third and fourth quarters. At halftime, there is a five-minute break.

4. Starting the game: The game begins with a swim-off, where one player from each team races to reach and control the ball placed in the center of the pool.

5. Fouls: Players are not allowed to hold, sink, or impede an opponent unless they are holding the ball. Physical contact is limited, and dangerous actions like hitting or kicking are strictly prohibited.

6. Exclusion fouls: Players committing a major foul are excluded from the game for 20 seconds. If a player receives three exclusion fouls, they are disqualified for the remainder of the match.

7. Goalkeepers: The goalkeeper is the only player allowed to touch the ball with both hands. They have a unique set of rules, such as not being able to cross the half-distance line or score goals.

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8. Ball possession: A player may hold the ball with one or both hands, but they cannot use two hands to forcefully push off an opponent. The ball must be passed, shot, or dribbled within 30 seconds, known as the shot clock.

9. Goal scoring: A goal is scored when the whole ball crosses the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar. The team with the most goals at the end of the match wins.

10. Timeouts: Each team is allowed to call a timeout once during each half of the game. This allows coaches to discuss strategies and give instructions to their players.

11. Penalties: If a defender fouls an attacker in possession of the ball in a scoring position, a penalty shot is awarded. The attacker takes a free shot from a designated spot, one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Common Questions and Answers:

1. Can players touch the bottom of the pool during the game?
No, players are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool unless they are the goalkeeper.

2. Can players wear goggles?
Yes, players can wear goggles for protection and better visibility.

3. Can players use both hands to block a shot?
No, only the goalkeeper is allowed to use both hands to block shots.

4. Can players swim with the ball underwater?
Yes, players are allowed to swim with the ball underwater as long as they resurface within a reasonable time frame.

5. How many players can be substituted during a match?
There are no limitations on the number of substitutions, but they can only occur during specific intervals or for injured players.

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6. Can players dunk or push opponents underwater?
No, players cannot hold, sink, or impede an opponent unless they are holding the ball.

7. What happens if a player receives a red card?
A red card results in immediate disqualification from the game and potential suspensions for subsequent matches.

8. Can players pass the ball with both hands simultaneously?
No, players can only pass the ball using one hand at a time.

9. Is there a shot clock in water polo?
Yes, teams have 30 seconds to take a shot on goal before losing possession.

10. Can players touch the ball with their feet?
Yes, players can touch the ball with any part of their body, including their feet.

11. Can the goalkeeper score goals?
Yes, the goalkeeper can score goals, but they are subject to certain restrictions, such as not crossing the half-distance line.