Water polo is a team water sport played in a pool, combining elements of swimming, soccer, and basketball. Two teams, each with seven players (including a goalkeeper), compete to score goals by throwing a ball into the opponent's net. The game consists of four quarters, and the team with the most goals at the end wins. Players must tread water or swim constantly, as touching the bottom of the pool is not allowed. Skills required include swimming speed and endurance, ball handling, teamwork, and strategic thinking. Physical contact is common, making strength and resilience important.
Water polo is popular in countries like Hungary, Serbia, Italy, and the United States, with major competitions including the Olympic Games, FINA Water Polo World Championships, and various national leagues.
Water polo originated in the late 19th century, evolving from games played in rivers and lakes in England and Scotland. Initially resembling rugby in water, the sport became more structured with the formulation of rules. It was one of the first team sports introduced at the Olympic Games in 1900. Over the years, the game has seen significant changes. Early versions were much rougher and less regulated than today's game. The introduction of a smaller ball and changes in rules, like allowing players to catch the ball with only one hand, transformed it into a faster, more skillful sport, emphasizing swimming ability, strategy, and teamwork.
Water polo is poised for growth with a focus on global expansion and inclusivity. Efforts to popularize the sport in new regions are gaining momentum, attracting diverse talent and audiences. Women's water polo is on the rise, with increased recognition and investment in female competitions. Technological advancements in water polo equipment and analytics are enhancing the game's efficiency and fairness.
The adaptation of rules to encourage more dynamic play and spectator engagement is gaining traction. Water polo's presence in multi-sport events like the Olympics and the expansion of international tournaments exemplify its role as an exciting and accessible water-based team sport with a bright future.
Water polo is played on a 30 meter (98 feet) by 20 meters (65 feet) with two teams of 7 players: one goalie and 6 field players. The objective of the game is to swim for the ball in the beginning and score a goal on your opposing team's net.
A water polo match has four eight-minute periods that combine for total 32-minute playing time. Time can be affected by the 30-second shot clock if the opposing team takes too long to shot, or fouls and penalties can also make the match last longer.
The minimum depth of water in water polo must be 1.8 meters (6 feet) for practicality purposes. Any lower than that and players won't be able to swim comfortably especially since field players cannot touch the ground when playing.