Water Polo | USA World University Games

USA World University Games

Water Polo

Water Polo

Water Polo

  • Water polo is a ball sport played in the water. Two teams each consisting of seven players including the goalkeeper play against each other within the field of play marked in a pool and attempt to score points by throwing the ball into the goal of the other team. The game rules are similar to the rules for handball. Since fouls are often unseen by the referees as the players’ bodies are mostly underwater, quite a lot of holding and pushing occurs in this game that is sometimes referred to as the ‘underwater combat sport’.

    Total days of play :7days


Two events (men, women)


< Rules >

Water polo games are conducted in accordance with FINA rules.

Each team consists of 13 players, including 6 substitutes.

Water polo is the only ball sport among the aquatics disciplines.
Players on each team are required to wear caps of contrasting color(usually white or blue) fitted
with ear protectors for ease of identification and to prevent injuries.

The weight of the water polo ball must be between 400 and 450 grams.

The circumference of the water polo ball is between 0.68 m and 0.71 m.

Each game is played for 4 periods, each with 8 minutes of actual play, and each period is separated
by two-minute interval.

The teams change ends before starting the third period.

Overtime play consists of two periods of three minutes each.

※ Officials consist of 2 referees (who control the field of play), 2 goal judges (who are situated on the goal line and signal corner throw goals), 2 timekeepers (who record actual play time, interval time, and periods of continuous possession of the ball by each team) and 2 secretaries (who control the periods of exclusion of players and record major fouls).


< Format >

The most recent FINA rules stipulate that tournaments shall consist of 16 teams that are divided into
4 groups(A, B, C, D), with preliminary games to be played amongst the 4 teams in each group.

Teams in each group play a single round robin preliminary round
(that is adjusted in accordance with the number of participating teams)

Tournaments consist of the preliminary round, the ranking round, and the finals.


Water polo is the only in-water ball sport, and like soccer, it was invented in Britain. In 1896, water polo was born out of the desire to escape the boredom of swimming, and by the end of 1870 a committee was established for the formulation of a set of rules for water polo. In 1876, the world’s first organized water polo match between teams of 7 players each was hosted by the Bournemouth Rowing Club in a marked field of play with 1 referee and 2 goal judges. The field of play did not have any goals, however, so long, thick pieces of wood were floated near the end lines and 1 point was awarded whenever a team managed to place the ball on the wood. The first rules for water polo were drawn up by William Wilson, based upon which water polo spread quickly through Britain. In 1888, water polo rules were overhauled in the process of establishing a special committee to organize water polo championship games. The new rules stipulated that the goals should be 2.44m wide, that the top of the goal should be 1.83 m above the surface of the water and that goals should be installed 0.3 m away from the end line walls. These rules also required players to pass the ball unless actively swimming with the ball in their possession. Water polo was selected as an official Olympic event in the 2nd Olympic Games held in Paris.