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A new world

Water Polo

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The first Olympic team sport, water polo has been in the Games since Paris 1900, when it was a men-only competition – women joined at Sydney 2000. Physical, fast-paced and with lots of goals, it’s a thrilling spectacle.
Spectator's Guide - Water Polo
  • Water Polo

Countries

Athletes

Events

14 260 2

Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

Water Polo

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August21
Date Event Venue Status

About

About

Aim of the game

Two teams of seven players face each other in the pool with the objective of throwing the ball into the opposition's goal – the team that scores the most goals wins

Why should you watch this?

Physical, fast-paced and with lots of goals – on average more than 10 per match – the water polo pool will be overflowing with thrills at the Rio 2016 Games

International Federation

Olympic debut

Paris 1900

Rules
  • Egg-beater

    Egg-beater

    A form of treading water that allows a player to maintain a steady position in the pool

  • Skip shot

    Skip shot

    A shot that is aimed at the water and bounces off the surface

  • Man-up

    Man-up

    When one team has an extra player for 20 seconds because an opponent is excluded for foul play – leaving his team a 'man-down'

Impress your friends

  • A form of the sport was played in the 19th century in England, Scotland and the USA – it bore a resemblance to regular polo, but with canoes instead of horses

    A form of the sport was played in the 19th century in England, Scotland and the USA – it bore a resemblance to regular polo, but with canoes instead of horses

  • At Paris 1900, water polo became the first team sport in the Olympic Games. Due to the tough nature of the sport, it went on to earn the nickname 'pool rugby'

    At Paris 1900, water polo became the first team sport in the Olympic Games. Due to the tough nature of the sport, it went on to earn the nickname 'pool rugby'

  • The first women's Olympic water polo competition was exactly 100 years after the men's debut, at Sydney 2000

    The first women's Olympic water polo competition was exactly 100 years after the men's debut, at Sydney 2000

  • Italy beat Spain 9-8 in a thrilling final at the Barcelona 1992 Games, Ferdinando Gandolfi scoring the decisive goal with 32 seconds of extra time remaining

    Italy beat Spain 9-8 in a thrilling final at the Barcelona 1992 Games, Ferdinando Gandolfi scoring the decisive goal with 32 seconds of extra time remaining

  • Australia made a splash in the first women's Olympic competition at Sydney 2000, beating powerhouses Russia, Holland and the USA on route to winning gold

    Australia made a splash in the first women's Olympic competition at Sydney 2000, beating powerhouses Russia, Holland and the USA on route to winning gold

  • The Hungarian men's team has competed in 21 Olympic water polo competitions, winning 15 medals, almost double the number of second-placed Italy, who have seven

    The Hungarian men's team has competed in 21 Olympic water polo competitions, winning 15 medals, almost double the number of second-placed Italy, who have seven

  • In the women's competition, the USA has never failed to make the podium, while the Australians only failed to win a medal in Athens 2004 (imagem carrossel 7)

    In the women's competition, the USA has never failed to make the podium, while the Australians only failed to win a medal in Athens 2004 (imagem carrossel 7)

  • Debbie Handley holds the record for the most goals in an official match – she scored 13 to help Australia beat Canada 16-10 in the 1982 world championships

    Debbie Handley holds the record for the most goals in an official match – she scored 13 to help Australia beat Canada 16-10 in the 1982 world championships

  • Hungary's Olivér Halassy lost a leg in a road accident as a child, but went on to win two Olympic gold medals, and one silver, between 1928 and 1936

    Hungary's Olivér Halassy lost a leg in a road accident as a child, but went on to win two Olympic gold medals, and one silver, between 1928 and 1936

Duration

Matches consist of four periods of eight minutes, with intervals between each. The clock is also stopped every time the ball goes out of play or there is a foul, meaning matches generally last 55-65 minutes in total.

Each team has 30 seconds to complete its attack on the opponent’s goal, after which it loses possession. 

If a game finishes in a tie in the knockout rounds, it will go straight to penalty shots

Start

At the start of each period, the two teams line up on their goal-lines at opposite ends of the pool. The referee blows the whistle and the ball is released in the centre of the pool using a special device, at which point the players race to win possession. The clock starts when the ball is first touched.

Not allowed

Fouls are awarded for touching the bottom or side of the pool, sinking the ball underwater or holding or pushing an opponent. A player who commits a serious foul is excluded for 20 seconds – three such fouls by the same player in a game result in exclusion for the rest of the match, although a substitution is allowed.

Teams

Squads consist of 13 players, with seven in the pool at any one time: six outfield players and a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper is the only player who can hold onto the ball with two hands and use his or her fist to punch it away.

Kit

Women play in a swimsuit and men in swimming trunks. The ball weighs 400-450g, although the type used in men’s matches a little larger than that used in women’s.

Nylon caps with ear protectors must be worn throughout the match. They have the player’s number on the side and the country’s acronym on the front. Teams must use caps of contrasting colours – usually blue and white. Goalkeepers always use a red cap.

Playing areas

The red area marks 2m from the goal. An attacking player may only enter this area if they have the ball, or if the ball is already inside.

The yellow line is 5m from the goal and marks the penalty area: if a defender commits a foul inside this area, impeding a probable goal, a penalty throw is awarded to the attacking team.

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
HUN
HUN
9 3 3 15
USA
USA
1 5 3 9
YUG
YUG
3 4 0 7
Women
usa
USA
1 2 1 4
AUS
AUS
1 0 2 3
ITA
ITA
1 0 0 1

Countries

Athletes

Athletes & Teams

Gender

Gender
Woman 40
Men 60
Women
Men

Age Range

Age Range
Under 15 0
16 - 20 6
21 - 25 31
26 - 30 42
31 - 40 20
Over 40 0
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