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Water Polo

 Water Polo, sport played between two teams in swimming pools with a netted goal set up at each end. The competing teams attempt to score points by throwing a buoyant ball into the opponent’s goal. Each goal is worth one point.

There are two versions of water polo, and the two versions differ in minor ways, such as in the length of the field of play. Most international matches follow rules and regulations set by the Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA; International Federation of Amateur Swimming).

Canadian collegiate competitions use FINA rules. In the United States, collegiate competitions follow slightly different rules set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

FINA has headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. In Canada, the governing body for the sport is Water Polo Canada, based in Gloucester, Ontario. In the United States, water polo is governed by United States Water Polo, Incorporated, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Playing Area And Equipment

 In men’s water polo competition, the pool or water area must be a minimum of 20 m (66 ft) wide and a maximum of 30 m (98 ft) long, with a depth of 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in). In women's competition, the playing area is 17 m (56 ft) wide and 25 m (82 ft) long.

The ball, which resembles a soccer ball, is a tightly inflated rubber sphere, 68 to 71 cm (27 to 28 in) in circumference and weighing 400 to 450 g (14 to 16 oz).

The goals are rectangular netted frames of wood, metal, or plastic that float on the water surface. In size, each goal must be 30 cm (12 in) deep, 3 m (10 ft) wide, and 90 cm (35 in) high from the water surface to the top of the frame.

Team and officials

A water polo team consists of seven players—a goalkeeper and six field players. The goalkeeper must defend the goal without hanging onto the goal or using the side of the pool. Each team also may have six substitute players. With the exception of the goalkeeper, each player may use only one hand at a time in handling the ball. Players wear caps of different colors for team identification; the official rules stipulate white for one team, blue for the other, and red caps for the goalies.

A match requires two referees, two goal judges, two timekeepers, and two recorders. Games are divided into four periods of 7 minutes each, with a 2-minute interval between periods.

Rules Of Play

Play begins when the referee, with each team spread out along its own goal line, throws the ball into play at a line halfway between the two teams. The players race toward the ball, and the team that gains possession then attempts to advance it toward the opponent's goal by passing it from teammate to teammate. Players can also swim with the ball by pushing it along the water surface with their bodies as they swim.

Players may not use more than one hand at a time and may not employ clenched fists. No players—except the goalie, when defending a goal in a pool with a shallow end—may walk on or use the bottom of the pool, nor may they take the ball beneath the surface of the water. Players may not impede the free-limb movement of another player unless that player holds the ball.

Infraction of these rules results in penalties. For a minor infraction, play stops and one teammate can make a free pass to another. For a major infraction, the penalty may involve a free shot at the opponent's goal from the 4-m (13-ft) line, with only the opposing goalie permitted to defend against the shot. A major infraction may also result in the expulsion of a player to the penalty area behind the goal for 20 seconds, or until a goal is scored, or until the defending team regains possession—whichever is the shortest time. After accumulating three major fouls, a player must be replaced by a substitute, who may enter the game from the penalty area.