Water polo rules: origin, history, players, positions, ball, fouls - teenflixsports

Water polo rules, Origin, history, players, positions, ball, fouls

The rules of water polo were born in 1877, when the Scotsman William Wilson wrote a regulation that became the basis of international rules. The game follows the guidelines of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) since 1908. However, according to the history of water polo , the first rules of water polo  date back to 1885 and were maintained until 1888, the year in which the first championship was played. official . Similarly, the first international match was an England-Scotland match in 1890. At the end of 1948, FINA made some changes to the regulations, so from 1949 it was an even faster and more colorful sport.

In this article, in addition to delving into the rules of water polo , we will also learn about its history and focus on the players and positions of water polo . But, to begin with, what is water polo? It is an aquatic sport in which two teams of seven players with positions defined face off in a pool. The objective of the game is to introduce a ball the greatest number of times into the opposing team's goal in a specific period of time. You can only handle the ball with one hand. Water polo requires speed, agility, endurance, strength, and tactical and mental intelligence from the player. Furthermore, it is one of the three most complete sports in the world; the other two are athletics and cycling.


  • Origin of water polo
  • history of water polo
  • Basic rules of water polo
  • Measurements of the playing field (water polo pool)
  • Water polo rules for goals
  • Rules for the water polo ball
  • Water polo rules for player caps
  • Duration of the match according to the rules of water polo
  • Water polo players and positions
  • Fouls and sanctions according to the rules of water polo
  • Water polo rules for serves

Origin of water polo

Water polo owes its name to an old game from the 19th century, which was played on horse-shaped barrels and a stick (like classic polo), but in the water. Thus, this sport arose at the end of the 19th century in England and Scotland, although at first it was called hand-ball aquatic (water handball). Thus, water polo is of English origin. Its inventor is considered to be the British William Wilson in the Scottish city of Glasgow in 1877. Wilson created various water polo rules for a new ball game that was played in the water by teams.

Under this regulation, the first game in Scotland was played with a rubber ball called a "pulu". This meeting was an important point in the history of water polo . The UK Yachting Association recognized the new game in 1885, now called water polo , and expanded upon the rules applied by Wilson. Naturally, these water polo rules were the basis for international standards when the sport spread to America, Europe and Australia.

Water polo is a very tough sport. In addition, in the past, the pioneers practiced it without any regulations. The history of water polo dictates that, originally, it was a kind of rugby played in the water. The players had to deposit the ball behind the end line of the other team. The lines that delimited the playing field were imaginary, so it was worth absolutely anything.

As we have seen, at the beginning there were hardly any water polo rules . However, little by little, the English began to accept that they would have to put some goals, define the number of players and limit the pitch. Thus, the rules of water polo have undergone various modifications since its creation.

history of water polo

The history of water polo is more than 100 years old. As we have mentioned, water polo emerged at the end of the 19th century in England and Scotland. The first matches were held at sea and in rivers. Over time it began to spread to exhibitions, festivals and fairs. Between 1890 and 1900, water polo became popular throughout Europe, so tournaments were organized in Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Hungary and Italy, following the rules developed in England. In 1900 it already became part of the Olympic Games.

In 1929 a committee was formed to create international rules and, finally, in 1930 it became part of FINA. Since then, the history of water polo has continued to evolve and the rules of water polo have been modified that have led us to what we see today in any match.

Basic rules of water polo

There are some basic water polo rules that are important to know, such as:

  • Teams can be made up of up to 13 players in total, but only seven can be in the water.
  • Each team wears a colored hat, usually white or blue. The goalkeepers, always with the number 1, wear a red cap.
  • The rules of water polo dictate that a match is divided into four periods of seven minutes of actual play.
  • Goals can be scored with any part of the body, including the head and feet.
  • Water polo rules only allow one hand to be used to handle or catch the ball.
  • Players are prohibited from touching the pool floor.
  • According to the rules of water polo , a player will have to leave the game if he adds three temporary expulsions. The offending team will be left with six players for 20 seconds.
  • A match is controlled by two referees, one on each side of the pool , two goalkeepers and four timekeepers and secretaries who are at the management table.
  • The game is put into action by arranging a race between the two fastest players on each side, who try to reach the ball located in the center first.

Measurements of the playing field (water polo pool)

According to the water polo rules established by FINA , the pool measurements for men's and women's water polo must be as follows:

men's water polo

  • Length (measuring from one goal line to another): 33 meters
  • Width: 20 meters

women's water polo

  • Length: 25 meters
  • Width: 17 meters

In both cases, the depth of the pools can never be less than 1.80 meters. In addition, the central area (green), the 5-meter line (yellow) and the 2-meter line (red) must be clearly marked on the sides of the pool. This is done through different systems, although, mainly, through the buoys that delimit the playing field and that are placed in the corresponding color.

Water polo rules for goals

The goals are supported by two ropes that are anchored to the sides of the pool. They must be 3 meters wide and 90 centimeters between the surface of the water and the upper crossbar. The two posts and the crossbar must be rigid.

In addition, they have to be completely white and covered by a rear net. They are kept afloat by a special fastening system. Finally, according to the rules of water polo , the goals must be placed on the goal line, equidistant from the lateral delimitations of the field of play and no less than 0.30 m. from the edge of the pool.

Rules for the water polo ball

The ball must be rough so that it can be held with one hand without slipping despite its size. As determined by the water polo rules , that size varies from the female to the male category. Thus, the women's ball measures between 65 and 67 cm in diameter, while the men's ball measures between 68 and 71 cm. In both cases it weighs between 400 and 500 grams.

Water polo rules for player caps

The hats of the two teams will be of a different color, which contrasts with that of the ball. The referees may require a team to wear white or blue caps. Those of the goalkeepers will be red. Water polo rules state that they will be tied under the chin, and if a player loses it during play, it will be put on again at the next appropriate stop in the game when their team is in possession of the ball. The hats must be worn throughout the match and have rigid side protectors, which serve to protect the ears from possible damage.

They are used to identify the number of each team member, since they will be numbered on both sides. The goalkeeper will wear the number 1, while the rest of the water polo players  will wear the number 2 to 13. The substitute goalkeeper must wear a red cap with the number 13. No player may change his number during the match, except with the permission of the arbitrator and notifying the secretariat.

Duration of the match according to the rules of water polo

A water polo match is made up of four periods of eight minutes each. Time starts when a player touches the ball at the start of each period. For the game time to be real, the water polo rules determine that it stops after fouls, goals and during timeouts. The clock must be stopped at all game stops until the ball is put back into play by a player. Between time and time, there will be a two-minute interval, except between the second and third, where the rest is three minutes. The teams, including the water polo players , coaches and officials, will change ends before the start of the third period.

Each team can have the ball for a maximum of 30 seconds without shooting on goal (possession time). If after that time they have not thrown, possession passes to the other team. If, on the contrary, he shoots and collects the rebound after missing the goal, the 30-second timer restarts. In the event that it is a qualifying match and there is a tie, according to the water polo rules , two extra times of three minutes each are played. If the tie still persists, penalties are launched .

Water polo players and positions

As the rules of water polo specify , each team is made up of a maximum of thirteen players : eleven on the field and two goalkeepers. A team will start the game with seven players , one of which will take the position of goalkeeper. Thus, there will be six reserves, which may intervene as substitutes. Except for the goalkeeper, the player can occupy any of the positions on the playing field. The most common arrangement of water polo players is in a semicircle, around the goal. Generally, water polo positions are identified by a number from 1 to 5.

Water polo player 6: Buoy

It is one of the most characteristic and easily identifiable water polo positions . A water polo player in the position of the buoy is located near the goal, two or three meters away, in the center of the semicircle. His function is to finish the plays in attack and make it difficult for the opponent to move when they are on defense.

Water polo positions 1 and 5: Wingers

Under water polo rules , wingers are usually positioned on either side of the goal and at the height of the 2-meter line. Players in these water polo positions must try to play with the buoy at all times.

Water polo players 2 and 4: Wingers

They are placed on the 5 meter line and at the height of the goal posts. The water polo players in positions 2 and 4 are usually in charge of shooting on goal and penetrating the opposing defense. They are also the first to regain their position when switching from offense to defense.

Water polo position 3: Center

It is located in front of the goal and on the same line as the buoy but at a greater distance, around 5 or 6 meters. The players in the water polo positions demarcated as central have to get the direct kick or the expulsion of the one who marks them to achieve superiority.

Fouls and sanctions according to the rules of water polo

The water polo rules include different types of fouls, which we will see below.

Ordinary fouls in water polo

Some of the ordinary fouls of this water sport are those included in the following water polo rules , which will be punished with the signaling of a free kick from the place where the water polo player committed the foul:

  • Not respecting zone lines.
  • Touching the bottom or sides of the pool during the game.
  • Exceed time of possession.
  • Sink the ball underwater.
  • Play or touch the ball with both hands at the same time.
  • Waste of time.

Fouls with expulsions of players

These fouls will be punished with the award of a free kick to the opposing team and the expulsion of the player. When 20 seconds of effective play have passed, the expelled may re-enter. However, a water polo player expelled three times will no longer be able to do so. 

The rules of water polo dictate that the offenses considered more serious, which lead to the expulsion of the players are: pushing or leaning on an opponent who is not in possession of the ball; get out of the water; make it difficult to take a free kick, goal kick or corner kick; attempting to block a pass or shot; intentionally splashing in the face of an opponent; impede the freedom of movement of an opponent, and kick or hit an opponent.

Fouls with penalty sanctions in water polo

The maximum punishment for a team that commits a foul is receiving a penalty. As stated in the water polo rules , players who commit one of the following actions will be punished with a penalty: committing any foul within the six-meter area to avoid a probable goal, moving or sinking the goal to avoid a goal, trying to block a throwing or a two-handed pass, hitting the ball with a closed fist and any player who is not authorized to do so at the time taking part in the game.

Personal fouls for water polo players

A personal foul will be scored against the player committing an expulsion or penalty. The referee will indicate to the secretary the cap number of the offending player. Upon receiving the third personal foul, the player will be excluded from the game. If the third personal foul occurs as a result of a penalty, the substitute will enter immediately.

Water polo rules for serves

The water polo rules also give importance to the different types of serves and how to perform them.

Goal kicks in water polo

The goal kick will be carried out by any player of the team from any point, within its two-meter area. A goal kick will be awarded when the ball passes the entire goal line, excluding the area between the goal posts and under the crossbar, and has been last touched by any player other than the defending team's goalkeeper.

Also, in the event that the ball completely passes the goal line between the posts and below the crossbar, or rebounds off the posts, crossbar or defending goalkeeper on a direct kick from:

  • A free kick awarded within 6 metres.
  • A free kick called outside 6 meters.
  • A goal kick that is not taken immediately.

Water polo rules for corner kicks

A corner is awarded when the ball completely crosses the goal line, excluding the goal, and was last played or touched by the goalkeeper of the defending team, or when a player from this team deliberately throws the ball over the line the Gol.

The throw must be carried out by a player of the attacking team from the two-meter mark on the side closest to where the ball came from. The throw need not be made by the nearest player, although it must be made without undue delay.

Within the rules of water polo , there is a new norm. A player taking a corner can either shoot straight, swim and shoot without passing the ball, or pass it to another player. It is important to take into account that there cannot be any player of the attacking team within the two-meter zone at the time of this throw.

Neutral water polo serves

In the neutral kick , the referee will throw the ball into the field of play in approximately the

same lateral position as where the incident occurred, allowing the players of both teams to dispute the ball with equal chances. In relation to the rules of water polo , a neutral kick is granted when:

  • At the start of a period, the referee considers that the ball has been in a position of advantage for a team.
  • One or more players from opposing teams foul simultaneously.
  • The ball touches or is retained in an obstacle above the field of play.

Free kicks according to the rules of water polo

A free kick must be taken from where the ball is. However, if the foul was committed by a defender within the two-meter area and the ball is also within the two-meter area, the free kick will be put into play from the two-meter line where the foul was committed. . The player awarded a free kick must immediately put the ball into play, by passing or throwing it, if allowed by the water polo rules .