Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Water polo is a team water sport, which can be best described as a combination of swimming, football (soccer), basketball, ice hockey, and wrestling. A team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper. The goal of the game resembles that of football/soccer—to score as many goals as possible, each goal being worth one point.
Basic skills needed for a Water Polo Player
- Treading water: The most common form of water treading is referred to in the United States as the "egg-beater," named because the movement of the legs resembles the motion of an egg beater or mixer. The advantage of the egg-beater is that it allows the player to maintain a constant horizontal position in the pool (as opposed to the scissor kick, which results in the player bobbing up and down.) Also, by kicking faster for a brief period the player can get high out of the water (as high as their waistline) for a block or catch.
- Swimming: As water polo is a team water sport, swimming is most commonly a skill which is acquired before playing this sport. It is a key element as it is needed to swim back and forth across the court often.
- Ball handling skills : As all out-field players are only allowed to touch the ball with one hand at a time, they must develop good ball control.
The game is divided into four quarters, of which the length depends on the level of play:
Olympics: 7 minutes High School Varsity: 7 minutes Junior Varsity: 6 minutes Frosh/Soph: 5 minutes
The game clock is stopped when the ball is not 'in play' e.g. between a foul being committed and the free throw being taken and between a goal being scored and the re-start. This causes the average quarter to last around 12 minutes 'real time'. A team may not have possession of the ball for longer than 35 seconds without shooting for the goal or an opponent being ejected - after this time, possession passes to the other team. However if a team shoots the ball within the alloted 35 seconds, and regains control of the ball, the shot clock is reset to 35 seconds.
Dimensions of the water polo pool are not fixed and can vary between 20 x 10 and 30 x 20 metres, and are filled with water to a minimum depth of at least 1.8 metres. The goals are 3 metres wide and 1 meter high. The ball used is a water polo ball. One player on each team is designated the goalkeeper, and their primary job is to guard the goals, deflecting or catching any shots at goal. The goalkeeper is the only player who can touch the ball with both hands at any time, and the only player allowed to stand on the bottom (if the pool is shallow enough to allow this).
Players can move the ball by throwing it to a teammate or swimming whilst pushing the ball in front of them. Players are not permitted to push the ball underwater when being tackled, or push or hold an opposition player unless that player is holding the ball. Water polo players tend to need remarkable stamina due to the considerable amount of holding and pushing that occurs during the game, both that which is unseen/ignored by the referees and that which is allowed. Water polo is one of the most physically demanding of all sports.
As in ice hockey, players can be sent out for short periods of time for committing fouls. In waterpolo, a player caught committing a bad foul, is sent out for 20 seconds, until the next goal, or until his team re-gains possession, whichever comes first. If the foul is a non-sportsman like act however it is considered an act of brutality and will result in the player being ejected for the remainder of the game. During a 'man-up' situation resulting from a foul, the attacking team can expect to score, by adopting a 4-2 formation, and moving the goalkeeper out of position. A player that has been sent out three times must sit out the whole match.
At long range from the goals, shots at goal are usually easy for goalkeepers to stop, but from closer in are very difficult.
There are six field player positions, however unlike most common team sports there is no positional play, players often will play several positions throughout the game as situations demand.
There are standard offensive and defensive positions that act as a guideline for players, the most basic positional set up is known as a 3-3, due to the fact that there are two lines both containing 3 players.
Key positions offensively include: 1 hole set player, 2 wing players, 2 drivers (also called "flats"), and 1 point man.
The Hole Set is the center player for the line closest to the opposing teams goal. This player sets up in front of the opposing team's goalie and usually scores the most individually or contributes most often to initiating plays.
The four wing players often swim the most and interchange their positions several times during a single offensive play. They contribute to the actual execution of plays, and most often cumulatively score the most points for any team.
The point player is very similar to a wing player. The position of the player at the top gives more access to providing a better pass to teammates.
Defensive positions are often the same, but just switched from offense to defense. Defense can be played person to person or zone.
The goalkeeper is the only player given several privileges above that of the other players, but only if he is within the four meter area. These privileges are:
- The ability to touch the ball with two hands.
- The ability to strike the ball with a clenched fist.
- The ability to touch the bottom of the pool.
The goalkeeper also gets one limitation that other players do not have: He cannot cross the half-distance line.
A goalie sometimes counter-attacks by blocking a shot, gaining control of the ball, and making a field pass to a teammate at the opposite end of the pool. This is known in some parts of the world as "cherry picking."
When the offense takes possession of the ball, the strategy is to advance the ball down the field of play and to score a goal. The key to the offence is to accurately pass the ball into the “Hole Set.” The Hole Set is the position that sets up directly in front of the goal.
The offense can attempt to pass the ball into the Hole Set. The offensive players can not use their arms to push away a defending player. If an offensive player pushes a defender away with an arm, the offensive player will commit a turnover and the defense will take possession of the ball.
The Hole Set attempts to take possession of the ball, attempt to shot a goal, or draw a foul from the defensive player. A foul is called if the defensive player attempts to knock the ball away from the Hole Set once the offensive player has taken possession of the ball. A foul is indicated by one short whistle blow by the referee. The referee also indicates that the offensive team keeps possession of the ball. At that time, the hole man is given three seconds to make a free pass to one of the other players. The defensive team cannot pressure the hole man after the foul and the offensive player cannot shoot a goal once the foul has been awarded.
If the Hole Set attempts a goal after the foul has been committed, the goal is not counted and the defense takes possession of the ball.
If the defense player pressures the Hole Set after the foul has been committed, the defensive player is kicked out of the game for twenty seconds. If the offense scores in less than twenty seconds, the defensive player is allowed to return to play before the twenty second has transpired. If the defense recovers the ball off a turnover before the twenty seconds transpires, the defensive player can return to the field of play.
When the Hole Set has a free pass, the other players on the field of play will attempt to drive away from the defense. Typically, the driver positions will swim or drive towards the hole man to get away from the defense. The players at the flat position will attempt to set a screen for the driver. When the driver is free from the defense, the player will call for the ball and attempt a shot at the goal. The Hole Set will attempt to pass the ball to the driving player. If the shot is successful, the offense will score a goal. If the shot is not successful, the offense and defense players will attempt to rebound the ball to take possession. The shot clock is reset after a shot is taken at the goal.
A shot is successful if the ball passes the vertical plane defined by the goal posts in its entirety.
If a shot bounces off a goal post back into the field of play, then the shot is unsuccessful and the ball is rebounded by the players and the shot clock is reset.
If the shot goes outside the goal and on to the deck (outside the field of play) then the ball is automatically recovered by the defense.
If the ball, however, has been last touched by a defender before landing on the deck, it is recovered by the offending team at the corner and the shot clock is reset.
An offender is ruled off-side if s/he has advanced inside the 2 meter line without ball possession. This is often overlooked if the offender is well to the side of the pool.
On defense, the players work to make sure the ball does not go into the goal. In order to pressure the offensive players, the defensive players work to knock the ball away from the offense, block any shots at the goal, and foul defensive players positioned close to the goal. The defense works to commit a foul in order to stop an offensive player from taking a shot at the goal. If an offensive player, such as the Hole Set, has possession of the ball in front of the goal, the defensive player commits the foul. The hole man must then pass the ball off to another player rather than taking a shot at the goal.
Minor fouls are committed by a defensive player reaching over the shoulder of an offensive player and knocking the ball away. However, the defense cannot reach over the offensive player until the offensive player has taken possession of the ball. Once a defensive player has committed the foul, the offensive player has three seconds to make a free pass to another offensive player. If the foul has been committed outside the 7 meter line, the offender may also attempt a direct shot on goal.
Major fouls are committed when the defensive player pulls the offensive player away from the ball before the offensive player has had a chance to take possession of the ball. A referee signals a major foul by two short whistle bursts and indicates that the player must leave the field of play and move to the penalty area for twenty seconds.
The player must move to the penalty area without impacting the natural game play. If the player does not leave the field of play, the player will be kicked out for the remaining time of the game.
A penalty shot is awarded when a major foul is committed within the 4 meter line, with the offender at a ready-to-score position. This usually means that the offender is in front of and facing the goal. The penalty is shot from 4 meters, with two defenders flanking the executing offender at no closer than 2 meters away, and the goalkeeper at the goal post line. The remaining defenders are behind the 7 meter line.
Invented in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain and played in many countries around the world, notably including Hungary, the game involves teams of seven players (plus up to five substitutes), with a ball similar in size to a soccer ball but constructed out of waterproof nylon. The goal of the game is to throw the ball into the team's goal net at the end of the pool, and prevent the opposition from doing so at the other end of the pool.
Men's water polo was the first Olympic team sport in the 1900 games. Women's water polo was only introduced in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games after political protests from the Australian women's team. Such protests were rewarded when Australia won the gold medal match against the United States with a "buzzer-beater" last-minute goal.
The most famous waterpolo match in history is probably the 1956 Summer Olympics semi-final match between Hungary and the Soviet Union. As the athletes left for the games, the 1956 Hungarian revolution happened, and a 200,000 strong Soviet army crushed a small uprising of Hungarian insurgents. Many of the Hungarian athletes vowed never to return home, and felt their only means of fighting back was by victory in the pool. The confrontation was the most bloody and violent waterpolo game in history, in which the pool reputedly turned red from the blood spilt. The Hungarians defeated the Soviets 4-0 before the game was called off in the final minute to prevent angry Hungarians in the crowd reacting to Valentin Prokopov punching Ervin Zador's eye open. The Hungarians continued to win the championship by defeating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final. Half of the Hungarian Olympic delegation defected after the games.
Today water polo is gaining popularity in the United States. Though the majority of domestic club teams are based in California it has become more widespread among New England preparatory high schools and Ivy League universities.
Recently In the 2004 NCAA Finals Stanford was Defeated by UCLA.
- Water Polo Canada
- FINA Waterpolo Rules
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