Water Polo 101

USA Women's Water Polo Team

We often get asked to describe how the game of water polo is played. Water polo can be related to many different sports, but I think it is most easily described as a mix of basketball, hockey, and soccer… but in the pool, of course!

Water polo is similar to soccer because there is a cage that we are trying to score the ball into and each team gets a goalie to protect or guard the cage. In water polo we use our hands but you can only touch the ball with one hand at a time, except for the goalie who can use both.

Similar to basketball, all the players (except the goalie) swim up and down the pool to play offense and defense. There are six field players and one goalie in the pool for each team.

Like hockey, water polo is a very physical game. There are often many whistles made by the referees. These whistles indicate fouls that result in a free pass, a turnover (giving the ball to the other team), or a major foul. Major fouls are like a power play in hockey. That player must swim to the penalty box and be there for 20 seconds. If you get three major fouls, then you are out for the remainder of the game.

A game consists of four eight-minute quarters, and often described as the most challenging part is the fact that you are in about eight feet of water and aren’t allowed to touch the bottom!

Elsie Windes
2012 USA Women’s Water Polo Team

The USA WOMEN’S WATER POLO TEAM is a group of 17 exceptional women who, collectively, have 12 Olympic medals, 16 World Championship titles and 85 years of water polo experience. Their athletic accomplishments are beyond impressive, but it’s their personal stories that truly embody what it means to achieve your goals while always reaching for more... more »

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