A Beginner's Guide on How to Play Water Polo

Objective of the Game

The objective of water polo is to score goals by throwing the ball into the opponent's goal while defending your own. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins.


To play water polo, you'll need the following equipment:

  • Swimsuit: Wear a suitable swimsuit for water polo, preferably one that fits snugly to avoid getting caught on opponents or the pool.

  • Water Polo Ball: Use a regulation water polo ball, which is larger and slightly heavier than a standard soccer ball. The ball should be grip-friendly and designed for use in water.

  • Swim Cap: Wear a swim cap to help distinguish teams and reduce hair interference during the game.


Water polo teams consist of six field players and one goalkeeper. Here are the key positions:

  • Goalkeeper: Positioned in front of the goal, the goalkeeper's primary role is to defend the goal and block shots.

  • Center Forward: Positioned near the opponent's goal, the center forward is responsible for scoring goals and creating opportunities for teammates.

  • Wings: Positioned on each side of the pool, the wings contribute to both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game.

  • Point: Positioned at the top of the attack, the point player directs the offensive plays and looks for opportunities to shoot.

  • Drivers: Positioned in front of the wings, drivers are responsible for driving towards the goal, creating space, and providing passing options.

Basic Skills

To play water polo effectively, you'll need to master the following basic skills:

  • Swimming: Develop strong swimming skills, including freestyle and eggbeater kick, to move swiftly and efficiently in the water.

  • Ball Handling: Learn to control and pass the ball accurately using one hand or both hands while treading water.

  • Shooting: Practice shooting techniques such as wrist shots, skip shots, and lob shots to effectively score goals.

  • Defending: Learn defensive techniques such as blocking shots, stealing the ball, and pressing opponents to disrupt their attacks.

  • Tactics and Strategy: Understand offensive and defensive tactics, including set plays, rotations, and positional awareness.

Rules of the Game

Familiarize yourself with the basic rules of water polo:

  • Ball Control: Players can only hold the ball with one hand at a time and cannot push or pull opponents.

  • Shot Clock: Teams have a limited time to shoot the ball on goal, usually around 30 seconds, to maintain an active and dynamic game.

  • Fouls: Common fouls include holding, grabbing, sinking an opponent, and impeding their movement. Fouls result in free throws or penalty shots.

Strategy and Teamwork

To excel in water polo, consider the following strategic elements:

  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial to coordinate plays, call out defensive assignments, and make quick decisions.

  • Teamwork: Work together with your teammates to create scoring opportunities, cover defensive positions, and execute set plays.

  • Positioning: Maintain good positioning in the pool, ensuring you have passing options, provide support to teammates, and can quickly transition between offense and defense.

  • Counter-Attack: Take advantage of counter-attack opportunities by quickly transitioning from defense to offense to catch the opposing team off-guard.

Practice and Improvement

To enhance your water polo skills, consider the following tips:

  • Swimming Conditioning: Focus on building your swimming endurance through regular swimming workouts and drills.

  • Ball Handling Drills: Practice ball control exercises such as passing, shooting, and dribbling drills to improve your skills.

  • Game Simulation: Participate in scrimmages or practice matches to simulate game situations, work on your decision-making, and apply your skills in a competitive environment.

  • Seek Coaching: Consider joining a water polo club or seeking coaching from experienced players or coaches who can provide guidance, technique correction, and help you develop your game sense.