Water Polo Rules

Method of Play​

  1. Each team lines up at opposite ends of pool at the start of play.
  2. Play starts when the referee throws the ball into the center of the playing area and both teams go after the ball.   
  3. After each score the ball is put in play by the goalie of the team just scored upon.

Duties of the Goalie​

  1. The goal tender may not throw the ball more than half the width of the pool.
  2. The objective is to stop all shots attempted on goal.
  3. Goalie may hang onto the side of the pool anytime.
  4. The goalie must stay in the last lane closer to the side of the pool.

Duties of the other Team Members

  1. To pass, catch, and throw the ball to team members or toward the goal in an attempt to score upon the opposite team.  One or both hands may be used at any time.
  2. The defensive line should keep in mind that they are the main line of defense for the goal tender and should not venture much more than half across the pool.
  3. Tackling a player who has possession of the ball is illegal.  You must go after the ball and not the person.
  4. No intentional splashing is allowed.
  5. *NEW RULE* Players are required to remove ALL jewelry such as rings, dangling earrings/other piercings, and necklaces before game may start.
  6. Penalty shot will be awarded if found during game!

General Rules​

  1. Number of players on each team is five, although can play with three.  Forfeit game with less than three players.
  2. Length of Game - Two 15 minute periods. Teams change ends.
  3. Half Time - Two minutes between halves.
  4. Substitutions - Substitutes may enter at any time.  However, the player leaving the game must be on his way out of the pool before his/her replacement can enter the water.
  5. Goalkeeper Area - All penalty shots will be taken from the second blue line in from pool.  Goalies must stay inside the last blue line and the side of the pool. No offensive player is allowed in this area.
  6. Penalty Shot Area - 12 feet from the end of the pool or 15 feet from the goalkeeper area line.
  7. Scoring - One point for each goal scored. One point for each penalty point thrown at the goal and scored.  No score if goal is made from within the last lane of the pool.
  8. Drop Ball - Thrown ball by official into the center of the pool to start the game each quarter, and an overtime period. Players on each team must be in position in respective goal area before the ball is thrown.
  9. Free Throw - After a minor infraction, the ball will be given back to the goalie of the non-violation team. The goalie will put the ball into play by passing ball to a team mate. One pass must be made before any attempted goal.
  10. Out of Bounds Ball - A free throw from the same point the ball went out awarded to the opposing team. Player nearest to where the ball goes out takes the throw.
  11. Penalty Throw - The penalty throw involves the thrower and the goalie. Should the attempt be missed, the goalie will put the ball in play with a free throw. ON THE FIFTH INFRACTION, A PENALTY THROW WILL BE AWARDED!  Every one infraction afterwards will result in a penalty throw.  The penalty shot is taken from the second Blue Line!
  12. Overtime Period - When the game ends in a tie score, one four minute quarter of sudden death will then be played (after a three minute rest). If after this overtime period, the score is still tied, the game is a tie.
  13. Goggles are allowed.


  1. The penalty is losing possession of a ball to another team by a free throw.
  2. Holding onto the pool wall while in possession of the ball.
  3. Holding the ball under water.
  4. Goal tender throwing the ball more than half the width of the pool.
  5. Offensive player within the goalkeeper's area.
  6. Being closely guarded (within five feet) when in possession of the ball for five seconds.

Personal Fouls - Penalties

  1. Holding, pushing, hitting, jumping on, tackling, or dunking an opponent player not holding the ball.
  2. Player persistently repeating an infraction, even after the referee has given warning.
  3. Free throw is awarded to the nearest opponent or a penalty throw at the goal if the foul occurs in the penalty area.
  4. Penalty shot at goal on fifth infraction and then every penalty thereafter. (See #11 above under General Rules.)

Major Fouls - Penalties

  1. Player attacking, striking or kicking an opponent in such a manner as, in opinion of the referee, to endanger his person in any way.
  2. Flagrantly refusing obedience to referee's request.
  3. To exhibit unsportsmanlike conduct.

Penalties for Major Infractions

  1. Player committing infraction may be ejected for the remainder of the game.
  2. Player may not be allowed to participate in any further games.
  3. Player will be placed on intramural probation for the rest of the water polo season.
  4. Penalty shot will be awarded.


  1. First time warning.
  2. Subsequent times: two minutes out of the water. Team does not play shorthanded.


  1. Roster/Hold Harmless Form is due prior to the first contest.
  2. Maximum of 10 players.

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