There are three types of fouls in water polo: (1)Ordinary fouls, (2) Exclusion fouls and (3) Penalty fouls.
(1) Common ordinary fouls include: impeding an opponent who is not holding the ball; pushing or pushing off an opponent; touching the ball with two hands; taking the ball underwater when tackled; and satalling. When the referee calls an ordinary foul, the offended team is awarded a free throw. The free throw is to be taken at the point of the foul or the location of the ball if the ball is behind the line of the foul. A free throw must be taken within three seconds by releasing, swimming or passing the ball. A player may shoot the ball directly on goal if the foul occurred outside 5 meters(yellow marking).
(2) Common exclusion fouls include
o holding, sinking or pulling back an opponent who is not holding the ball
o an ordinary foul committed by the defense during dead time (after a foul occurs but before the offended player has put the ball into play)
o Interfering with a free throw
o deliberate splashing in the face
Exclusion fouls result in a player being excluded for 20 seconds. The excluded player (or substitute) may not return until the 20 second exclusion time expires, a goal is scored or a change of possession takes place, whichever occurs first.
(3) Penalty fouls are committed within the five-meter area where a goal probably would have resulted. An attacking player fouled while in control of the ball and facing the goal inside the four-meter line is usually awarded the penalty throw. Any player in the game (excluding the goalkeeper) from the offended team can take the penalty throw. The shot is taken from the four-meter line, with only the goalie defending. The award of a penalty throw most commonly occurs in the following situation within the four-meter area when:
o any player, including the goalkeeper, pulling down or pushing away the goal;
o any player, except the goalkeeper, playing the ball with both hands or a clenched fist;
o the goalkeeper or a defensive player taking the ball underwater when tackled inside the four-meter area and near the goal;
o when an attacking player facing the goal who is in control of, but not holding, the ball is fouled by holding, sinking or pulling back.
o If a player uses two hands to block the ball. Only one hand may be used to take out a post or block the ball
Both exclusion and penalty fouls are personal fouls. They are recorded by the game secretary. A player with three personal fouls is removed from the game, with substitution.
One special class of exclusion fouls is major fouls. Players who are assessed major fouls are immediately removed from the game, with substitution. Major fouls include:
o misconduct or disrespect to the referee;
o any foul language;
o violent play.
Deliberately kicking or striking with intent to injure (brutality) results in ejection of the offending player for the remainder of the game. There will be a four minutes before you can replace the player who has been “rapped”.
As in basketball, two clocks are used to time a water polo game. One indicates the time remaining in the period and the other, called the possession or 30 second clock, indicates how much time remains for the offensive team to shoot the ball (the team is allowed 30 seconds to shoot the ball).
Each period is started with the teams lined up on opposite goal lines. On a signal (whistle) from the referee, the teams sprint toward centre pool where the referee releases the ball into the water. In some competitions, the ball is placed in a floating ring in the centre of the pool. The team gaining possession of the ball advances it toward its offensive end of the pool by swimming, dribbling, or passing the ball.
o Water polo is a fast moving game that demands good all round swimming ability. All the players must go for long periods without touching the bottom of the pool, this requires good leg strength with an “egg-beater” kick being used for treading water.
o Swimming with the ball involves the player swimming front crawl with his head well out of the water and the ball being kept under control at his chest with a high elbow swimming action.
o Catching and passing the ball must be with one hand only, with the exception of the goal keeper who can use both hands.
o The ball must not be taken under the water by any player if it interferes with play.
o Shooting skills come in many variations including:
o the straight shot
o the “bounce” shot
o the lobbed shot
o the back shot
o the “one-on-one” shot
o The centre forward position is the most demanding and players in this position require good upper body strength as well as good leg strength
o The goal keeper needs to have the “best” leg strength as he is constantly treading water, moving across the goal to cover shots and needs to get high out of the water to make a save.
o Blocking is a defensive skill, widely used, where a player will try to block a shot with his up-held arm, it requires good timing and a good “let kick”. Blocking a shot with two hands results in a penalty being awarded.
o Two pairs of swimming trunks and a cap with ear protectors are the only requirements. Some players also wear a protective “box” and a gum shield in case of “accidental contact”.
o a team needs two sets of caps, one blue and one white set. There should be 13 caps in each set with one cap being a red No. 1 for the goal keeper.
o The ball is made of a plastic material with a “roughened” surface to make it easier to grip when wet, it is normally yellow.
o Goggles are not allowed but special glasses or contact lenses may be worn.
o Players must keep their finger and toe nails cut short to prevent “scratching” injuries. No rings or other jewellery may be worn.
o Referees use hand signals to indicate fouls etc. Goal judges have a white flag, to indicate a goal throw, and a red flag for a corner. A stop clock and scoreboard are also required.