How to play water polo

Jan 272005
Authors: Andrew Woerpel

This will be the first year at the varsity level for the Rams. John Mattos, the swimming and diving coach, will coach the new team. There will also be eight members of the swimming and diving team playing on the water polo team.

Games take place in a pool that is 75 feet by 45 feet, with the water having to be at least 6.5 feet deep. Each goal is 10 feet by and 3 feet.

Each player must wear a protective cap for her ears at all times. The ball used is yellow and has a circumference of 25 inches.

Scoring happens when the ball goes into the other team's goal, like soccer. Also, any part of the body may be used to score a goal except for a player's fist, which means players cannot punch the ball in.

There is a shot clock, just like in basketball, that limits the amount of time each team can hang onto the ball before taking a shot. Each team gets 35 seconds on the clock to operate its offense.

Each game has four periods. Each period is seven minutes long, with two-minute breaks in between each period. Each team is allowed only two timeouts per game.

At the start of each game, the two teams line up on their own goal line. The referee will then toss the ball to the half-distance line, signaling the start of play.

There is a 2-meter mark on each side of the pool representing the offsides line. No player from the offensive team may cross that line unless the ball crosses the line first, just like hockey. Once offsides is called, the team will lose possession of the ball.

There are three kinds of fouls that can be called in water polo. The common fouls occur when a player touches the ball with two hands, a player takes the ball underwater, a player pushes off an opponent, a player punches the ball, a player intentionally impedes another player's motions (by grabbing their suit) or when a player stalls the game.

These "common fouls" result in a free throw from the point of the foul. If a "common foul" takes place within the 4-meter mark, the team gets a penalty shot on the goal where the foul took place.

The second kind of foul is called a "major foul." These fouls are for kicking or hitting an opponent, deliberately splashing water in the opponent's face, interfering during a free throw, bad-mouthing the referee, and holding, sinking or pulling an opponent not holding the ball. A 20-second penalty is enforced for these fouls. The guilty player's team must play shorthanded until the penalty runs out or somebody scores a goal, just like a power play in hockey.

The last kind of foul is a "brutality foul." This occurs when a player intentionally tries to hurt another player. When this happens, the player gets ejected for the rest of the game and the team has to play shorthanded.

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