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5. Water Polo

Water polo is an Olympic sport that combines the basic skills of swimming, basketball, and soccer into one sport. The object of the game is to score goals with a small ball and prevent goals from being scored on your team. Teams consist of six field players and one goal keeper in the pool, as well as substitutes. Field players must play both offense and defense which results in swimming the entire length of the pool frequently in a single game. A single game consists of four quarters of play of around eight minutes. The two teams play almost constantly through a single quarter with little or no breaks.

Here is a quick video on the basics of water polo:


Water polo is a contact sport, which results in a physical style of play. Here are some basic rules to consider when playing the sport:

  • Players are not allowed to touch the bottom or sides of the pool.
  • The ball may not go underwater.
  • Players may only touch the ball with one hand at a time.
  • If a common foul is called, then the offensive team is awarded a free pass.
  • If a major foul is called, then one team gains possession of the ball with a free pass, and the other team has a player temporarily ejected.
  • Players may not drown, hold, hit, or kick another player.


There is one goal keeper who is in charge of defending a team’s goal. They may touch the ball with two hands. The six field players have more flexible positions that allow them to play in multiple positions during a single game.

  • Point (center-back): like a point guard in basketball, this player is in charge of the offense.
  • Hole-set (center-forward): this player is closest to the goal on offense and is usually the biggest and most physical player. They have the best goal-scoring opportunities.
  • Wingers: play on both sides of the hole-set on the 2-meter line.
  • Flats: play on both sides of the point on the 5-meter line.

Basic Skills

  • Swimming: the sport is played in the water.
  • Treading and jumping: the ability to hold your place in water for extended periods of time and jump out of the water for positioning, passing, and shooting.
  • Passing: it is a team sport and good movement of the ball opens up opportunities to score.
  • Shooting: the object of the game is to shoot the ball into the back of your opponent’s goal.
  • Defense: preventing the other team from scoring via blocks, steals, and pressure.
  • Communication: it is a team sport and you will not win by yourself.


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Ch.1 - Swimming Copyright © by UGA PEDB Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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