Introduction to water polo
Water polo can best be described as contact football in a pool, in which athletes use their arms to throw a ball into the opponents goal rather than their feet. Each team has up to 13 players, of which 7 can be in the water at any one time. One of the players must be a goalkeeper whose duties are the same as in football. Players can only touch the ball with one hand, except the goalkeeper who can use both hands. The game is played over four periods of 8 minutes. The clock is stopped every time there is a foul, therefore most games last over an hour.
Play begins with both teams sprinting to the centre of the pool from their respective ends in order to win the ball and first possession.
Players move the ball by passing it through the air to a teammate or by swimming with the ball (dribbling). Each team has 30 seconds to shoot the ball at the goal. If a team fails to make a shot then possession is conceded. Goals count for 1 point each, and scores can often run into the teens in this fast paced game.
Top level play is extremely physical and senior players are among the best conditioned athletes in the world - constantly swimming throughout the game whilst treading water (egg-beater kick), battling an opponent, controlling the ball and understanding the tactical and team plays.
Mini polo is a smaller, more basic game than water polo and has been introduced to teach young players of any age up to about 12 (year 7) the fundamentals of the full game.
At CoB, mini polo is used as a method of bringing both boys and girls up to a standard where they can join in with junior (aged 13-18) sessions.
Mini polo differs from water polo in the following ways:
Mini polo has very limited contact;
A smaller and shallow pitch area that allows players to touch the bottom of the pool;
Players can catch and throw a smaller (size 3) ball with 2 hands; and
Basic team play principles are introduced.
Gradually the skills of treading water, one handed catching, throwing and shooting are introduced, whilst improving a players swimming strength and competence.
In order to run these teams and develop players from a grass routes level through to an international standard we rely solely on volunteers.