What is Water Polo?
Water polo, or Water ball, is a team water sport. The playing team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals. Game play involves swimming, treading water, players passing the ball while being defended by opponents, and scoring by throwing the ball into a net defended by a goalie. Water polo is very similar to handball on land. Basic Skills
Water Polo is a team water activity requiring swimming skills. Players must play both offense and defense, treading water or wrestling before turning back for the opposing team’s possession. The front crawl stroke used in water polo differs from the usual swimming style in which water polo players swim with the head out of water at all times to observe the play. The arm stroke used is also a lot shorter and quicker and is used primarily to protect the ball. Backstroke is used by defending players to look for advancing opponents and by the goalie to track the ball after passing. Water polo backstroke differs from swimming backstroke; the player sits up a bit in the water, using eggbeater leg like motions with short arm strokes to the side instead of long arm strokes. This allows the player to see the play and quickly switch positions. It also allows the player to quickly catch a pass. Positions
As all field players are only allowed to touch the ball with one hand at a time, they must develop the ability to catch and throw the ball with either hand or also the ability to catch a ball from any direction, including across the body using the momentum of the incoming ball. Experienced water polo players can catch and release a pass or shoot with a single motion. The size of the ball can overwhelm a small child’s hand, making the sport more suitable for older children. There are also smaller balls that can be used by younger children when playing.
There are seven players in the water from each team at one time. There are six players that play out and one goalkeeper. Unlike most common team sports, there is little positional play; field players will often fill several positions throughout the game as situations demand. These positions consist of the center the point the two wings and the two flats. Players who are skilled in all of these positions on offensive or defensive are called utility players. Utility players tend to come off of the bench, though this is not absolute. Certain body types are more suited for particular positions, and left-handed players are especially coveted on the right-hand side of the field, allowing teams to launch 2 sided attacks. How to Play
At the start of each period, teams line up on their own goal line. Three players go to both sides of the goal; the goalkeeper starts in the goal. At the referee’s whistle, both teams swim to midpoint of the field the referee drops the ball near the side of the pool. In International competition the ball is placed in the middle of the pool and is supported with a floating ring. The first team to recover the ball becomes the attacker until a goal is scored or the defenders recover the ball. After a goal is scored, the teams line up anywhere within their halves of play, but usually along the midpoint of the pool. Play resumes when the team not scoring the goal puts the ball in play by passing it backwards to a teammate.