The Rules
The global governing body for Water Polo is FINA. They oversee the rules for the sport which can be found by clicking here.


What is water polo?
Water polo is a "Speed Endurance" ball sport played in ..... the water!! Two goals, a ball, 7 players a side in the water (with 6 subs) and a referee. It is not, unlike a common misconception seems to state, played on horses. It is the oldest and longest running continuous Olympic team sport, the natural progression for swimmers and matches a great balance between technical skill and physical strength. Water polo finds its roots in Great Britain but is now one of the main sports of several countries such as Hungary, who recently won their third consecutive Olympic gold medal and eighth overall, former Yugoslavian republics of Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Italy, Greece, Malta, Spain, and others such as Australia, China, United States, Canada, Germany etc. In the womens game, the Netherlands are the current Olympic champions..


Why is water polo the greatest sport?
Water polo combines top skill sets from a wide range of major sports into one complete and elegant game.


Water sports:
Water sports are like land based sports with an extra something. water?. Players must not only master the skills required, but overcome an element of mother nature herself. Therefore water polo takes the best of swimming, diving, snorkeling and aqua puck.


Players are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. This means that players must tread water whenever stationary. As players jump out of the water up to hip height to shoot, this kind of treading water is extremely tiring. Each possession lasts 30 seconds, this means a player can expect to sprint the length of the pool 60+ times per game. Water Polo requires both the speed of a sprinter and the endurance of a long distance runner.


Ball skills & tactics:
Like football and basketball, water polo players must have excellent ball control. Players have just 30 seconds to move the ball from one end of the pool to the other, open up a hole in the defence by passing the ball between themselves at high speed, setting up the shot and launching the ball into the goal with amazing precision so the goalie cannot stop it. Water Polo takes the best of the tactics from football and basketball.


Wrestling is a major part of water polo as players jostle for position. A player cannot hold, sink, or pull back an opponent who is not holding the ball, however in maintaining their position it is often difficult for a referee to detect what happens under the water, therefore water polo takes the best of wrestling, rugby and American football.


So in conclusion, water polo is basically swimming, diving, snorkeling, aqua puck, sprinting, long distance running, football, basketball, wrestling, rugby and American football all combined into one amazing sport. This maybe biased but it does provide a very enjoyable sport that keeps you fit and active.



The first recorded evidence of the game was in 1876, when the Bournemouth Premier Rowing Club carried out the first series of aquatic handball matches. Various water based ball games were played before 1876, the most common being a game where players would sit on barrel type horses in the water and paddle around throwing or hitting a ball. It is highly possible this is where the "Polo" in waterpolo came from.

By 1884 the Midland Counties ASA had sufficient clubs playing to start a championship and the game was asked to be recognised by the Swimming Association of Great Britain (ASA), this however did not happen until 1885. An official set of rules were passed by the ASA in the same year and at the 1888 General Meeting of the ASA the rules were refined in to a set of championship conditions. It was at this point that the modern game started to take shape, with the introduction of football like goals and the requirement that players should swim when passing and playing the ball.

The first international match was between Scotland and Great Britain in 1890 and was won by the Scots, this game was played under Scottish rules, which were later in 1892 integrated into the English game. At first, players scored by planting the ball on the end of the pool with both hands. A favorite trick of the players was to place the five-to-nine inch rubber ball inside their swimming suit and dive under the murky water, then appear again as near the goal as possible .

If the player came up too near the goal, he was promptly jumped on by the goalie, who was permitted to stand on the pool deck. Games were often nothing more than gang fights in the water as players ignored the ball, preferring underwater wrestling matches that usually ended with one man floating to the surface unconscious.

The introduction of the "Trudgeon stroke" by Scottish players changed the nature of water polo. It became a game that emphasized swimming, speed and passing. Scottish rules moved from a rugby variant to a soccer style of play. Goals became a cage of l0 x 3 feet and a goal could be scored by being thrown. Players could only be tackled when they "held" the ball and the ball could no longer be taken under water. The small rubber ball was replaced by a leather soccer ball.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world adopted the Scottish rules: Hungary in 1889, Belgium in 1900, Austria and Germany in 1894 and France in 1895. By 1900, water polo was so popular it became the first team sport added to the Olympic program. In the early part of the 1900s England dominated the international scene with Olympic Golds in 1900, 1908, 1912 and 1920. Now a days England does well to compete against teams from Europe and around the world, a vast majority of whom are professional players, who enjoy the accolades and support of being involved in a national pastime and sport, much like the English and football.


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