Introduction to the sport of Water Polo

Water Polo is a great sport.  You can start, via mini-polo aged as young as 8 and there are many still playing in their 50s.  It is a physically demanding sport but it is also good as a social sport as well. Games are played between teams which can have seven players in the water at any time and up to six substitutes.  Teams wear coloured hats, usually blue and white, and each team has a goal keeper who wears a red hat.  The object is simply to score the most goals.  A full length game comprises four quarters each of eight minutes of actual play with the watch being stopped while play is not in active progress, for example after a goal has been scored or a free throw has been awarded.  This means that a game can last for 50 minutes or so.  The sport is very tiring and so games for younger players are generally much shorter – playing two six minute halves is pretty typical. 

The sport does involve some physical contact.  Players in front of goal are permitted to jostle for position and this can look pretty rough!  Actually, it looks rougher than it really is and injuries are rare.  The sport permits mixed teams of boys and girls up to the age of 16 but beyond this it is fully segregated.

At Croydon Amphibians we have an active beginners section.  Ideally players join aged between 8 and 12 but we can cater for older joiners particularly if they are transferring in with a background in competitive swimming.  We train at the new Whitgift School pool on each Saturday morning from 9.30 – 10.45am. Once players have learned the basics and are playing well enough they can progress up the ranks.  There is a second Croydon Amphibians training session on Thursday evenings from 8.30 – 10.00pm at Whitgift.  There are plenty of opportunities to progress to county level and above.  Indeed, each year, no fewer than 20 Croydon Amphibian members are selected to represent Surrey or London Region at one age group or another.

Players attending training need to be or become members of Croydon Amphibians Swimming Club and pay a subscription to the water polo section.  We do allow new starters a couple of weeks of trial membership before we expect them to sign up.

For further details please contact the water polo coach and Secretary, Chris Martin on 07802 678614 or [email protected][email protected]


Summary of the Rules

Probably the most important aspect of the rules of Water Polo is the distinction between Ordinary Fouls and the more serious Exclusion & Penalty Fouls.  In this two page note I will summarise the main aspects of the rules.  I will not cover every technicality but hopefully this note will give you a sound foundation in the rules.
Ordinary Fouls are punished by the award of a free throw to the other team.  They are summarised below:
To advance beyond the goal line at the start prior to the referee’s signal.
To assist a player (includes a helpful push to the player swimming for the ball!).
To hold or push off the goal posts, sides or end of the pool (except at the start).
To take an active part in the game while standing (except goalies).
To take the ball under the water when tackled (even if as a consequence of your hand being pushed down by an opponent).
To strike at the ball with a clenched fist (except goalies in their 5m area).
To touch the ball with two hands at the same time (except goalies in their 5m area).
To push or push off a player who is not holding the ball (note again the vital reference to not holding the ball).
To be within the 2m area unless you are behind the line of the ball (you are permitted a reasonable time to leave the 2m area after you pass the ball).
To take a penalty throw other than in the prescribed manner (i.e. with an immediate and uninterrupted movement).
To delay unduly the taking of a free throw.
For the goalie to go beyond the half distance line (but the goalie can throw the ball as far as he likes including scoring goals).
To send the ball out of play, including rebounding from the side above water level.
To retain possession for more than 30 seconds without shooting at goal.
To waste time.
Exclusion Fouls are more serious as you are sent out for 20 seconds or until a goal is scored or your team regains possession.  The main ones are:
To leave the water except in the case of injury or with the referee’s permission.
To interfere with a free, goal or corner throw (only intentional interference).
To splash in the face of an opponent intentionally.
To hold, sink or pull back a player not holding the ball.
To kick, strike an opponent intentionally or make disproportionate movements with that intent.
To impede the free movement of a player not holding the ball.
For a member of the defending team to impede or push an attacker prior to the taking of a free throw etc.
For players of each team simultaneously to impede or push prior to a free throw etc.
For an excluded player or a substitute to enter the field of play improperly.
To interfere with the taking of a penalty
To be guilty of misconduct such as foul language or persistent foul play.
To refuse obedience or show disrespect for a referee or official.
To commit an act of brutality.
Note that for brutality you are sent out for the remainder of the game with  substitution after 4 minutes.  For the 3 exclusion fouls listed prior to brutality you are excluded for the remainder of the game but with substitution.  In any case, you can take no further part in the game after your third exclusion or penalty foul.
On exclusion the excluded player must move to the re-entry area without leaving the water.  Note, however, that in many pools where we play it is necessary to leave the water at this point in order to make it clear that you have left the field of play.  You should confirm with the referees the exact “house rules” prior to the start of any game.
Penalty Fouls, punished by the award of a penalty, are given in the following situations:
For a defender to commit any foul inside the 5m area but for which a goal would probably have been scored.
For a defender to kick or strike a player (includes an act of brutality) within the 5m area.
For an excluded player intentionally to interfere with play.
For an excluded player to re-enter improperly with the intention of preventing a goal.
For any improper re-entry during the last minute of a game.
For any player to pull down the goal with the object of preventing a goal.
For a player not entitled so to do, to enter the field of play.
For the coach of the team not in possession to request a timeout.
Chris Martin