How to Play Water Polo?


The game needs a mixture and balance of wrestling, swimming and defensive skills. Most of the time, the player has to keep his head out of the water. So the swimming skills used here are definitely different than that of the normal water swimming. Front claw stroke is more common and popular. To hit the ball, arm stroke is also used. Defending players use backstroke to advance the opponent team member whereas the goalie uses it to track the ball.

The Eggbeater Method

To trade in the water, one of the most common method used is the eggbeater method. In this method, the player moves his leg in a circular motion under water to keep himself stable. It is again of two types.

  • Horizontal Eggbeater
  • Vertical Eggbeater

Horizontal eggbeater is used to move forward towards the opponent and to block the ball, whereas vertical eggbeater is used by the player to keep himself at higher position than that of the opponent.

Eggbeater Method

Defensive and attacking roles are assigned to six players known as fielders. One man is kept as the goalkeeper. The function of the fielders is to score goal against opponent team and prevent the same for their team. Goalkeeper stops the ball from entering into the goal post. Heavy force is needed to swim across the pool while simultaneously passing the ball and to score goal.

While passing and shooting the ball, the player should align his body in the direction of the motion of the ball. Using eggbeater, he has to keep his body floating constant for much duration of the time. Use the body momentum and keep in mind that one hand should only touch the ball. Let us now discuss some of the other basic skills relating to ball handling.

Picking up the Ball

To get a good grip while picking up a ball, the fingers and thumbs should get equally distributed over the mass of the ball. Player can pick the ball either under water or on the top of the water. The player often picks up the ball from the top of the water with a purpose of shooting. Picking the ball under water has the purpose of picking only.

Moving the Ball

The players can transfer the ball from one player to another but pushing the ball under water is not allowed as it may result in a turnover. In this case, the player has to transfer the ball to the opponent team.

Passing the Ball

There are two types of passing in water polo. They are−

  • Dry passing
  • Wet passing

If the player passes the ball without touching the water, then it is called as dry passing. With optimal speed the aim is to pass the ball from one hand to another without picking it up from the water. Through the use of back spin, the player makes it easy for his teammates to catch the ball.

Passing the Ball

On the other hand, the opponent team players use eggbeater to put them on higher position than others to catch the ball. The wet pass technique is used to deliberately land the ball on the water. For the teams having very strong hole set, this is a very strong offensive strategy.

Shooting the Ball

Goals can be made with any part of the body except for a clenched fist. Beating a goal keeper from a long distance is very difficult. Hence the players always try to take a close shot as s gentle tap on the ball in the right direction to score a goal.

Players having good target shooting can opt for power shot techniques where they need to generate the power of the ball by propelling it with a speed to 60-90 Km per hour and then finally target it towards the goal. Some players use bounce shot in which the ball is shot in one direction but the bouncing redirects it towards the goal. The players can also use lob shot technique where they throw the ball in a long curve to the goal post.

Fouls in Water Polo

Till now we have discussed about the fouls which results due to minor mistakes due to which free throw is awarded to the other team. But there are some other fouls which result in ejection or kick out. These types of fouls are awarded only when the player becomes more aggressive physically. Three ejections are sufficient to restrict a player from playing the rest of the match.

Fouls in Water Polo

Excess water travelling (around 3 km during 4 rounds) is needed in this game. Players punching under water can also get ejection foul. It is a common practice by the defender to make a foul to interrupt the movement of the opponent team but in most of the cases unless the foul is serious, the match continues uninterrupted.