Water polo | Wikipedia audio article

Water polo is a competitive team sport played
in the water between two teams. The game consists of four quarters in which
the two teams attempt to score goals by throwing the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The team with the most goals at the end of
the game wins the match. Each team is made up of six field players
and one goalkeeper. Except for the goalkeeper, players participate
in both offensive and defensive roles. Water polo is typically played in an all-deep
pool meaning that players cannot touch the bottom. A game of water polo consists of the players
swimming to move about the pool, treading water (often using the eggbeater kick technique),
passing the ball and shooting at goal. Teamwork, tactical thinking and game awareness
are also highly important aspects in a game of water polo. Water polo is a highly physical and demanding
sport and has frequently been cited as one of the toughest sports to play.Special equipment
for water polo includes a water polo ball, a ball which floats on the water; numbered
and coloured caps; and two goals, which either float in the water or are attached to the
side of the pool. The game is thought to have originated in
Scotland in the late 19th century as a sort of “water rugby”. William Wilson is thought to have developed
the game during a similar period. The game thus developed with the formation
of the London Water Polo League and has since expanded, becoming widely popular in various
parts of Europe, the United States, Brazil, China, Canada and Australia.==History==The history of water polo as a team sport
began as a demonstration of strength and swimming skill in late 19th century England and Scotland,
where water sports and racing exhibitions were a feature of county fairs and festivals. Men’s water polo was among the first team
sports introduced at the modern Olympic games in 1900. Water polo is now popular in many countries
around the world, notably Europe (particularly in Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Russia,
Italy, Greece and Spain), the United States, Canada and Australia. The present-day game involves teams of seven
players (plus up to six substitutes), with a water polo ball similar in size to a soccer
ball but constructed of air-tight nylon. One of the earliest recorded viewings of water
polo was conducted at the 4th Open Air Fete of the London Swimming Club, held at the Crystal
Palace, London on 15 September 1873. Another antecedent of the modern game of Water
Polo was a game of water ‘handball’ played at Bournemouth on 13 July 1876. This was a game between 12 members of the
Premier Rowing Club, with goals being marked by four flags placed in the water near to
the midpoint of Bournemouth Pier. The game started at 6:00 pm in the evening
and lasted for 15 minutes (when the ball burst) watched by a large crowd; with plans being
made for play on a larger scale the following week. The rules of water polo were originally developed
in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain by William Wilson. Wilson is believed to have been the First
Baths Master of the Arlington Baths Club in Glasgow. The first games of ‘aquatic football’ were
played at the Arlington in the late 1800s (the Club was founded in 1870), with a ball
constructed of India rubber. This “water rugby” came to be called “water
polo” based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu. Early play allowed brute strength, wrestling
and holding opposing players underwater to recover the ball. Players held underwater for lengthy periods
usually surrendered possession. The goalie stood outside the playing area
and defended the goal by jumping in on any opponent attempting to score by placing the
ball on the deck.==Rules==The rules of water polo cover the play, procedures,
equipment and officiating of water polo. These rules are similar throughout the world,
although slight variations to the rules do occur regionally and depending on the governing
body. Governing bodies of water polo include FINA,
the international governing organization for the rules; the NCAA rules, which govern the
rules for collegiate matches in the United States; the NFHS rules which govern the rules
in high schools in the US and the IOC rules which govern the rules at Olympic events.==Positions==
There are seven players in the water from each team at one time. There are six players that play out and one
goalkeeper. Unlike most common team sports, there is little
positional play; field players will often fill several positions throughout the game
as situations demand. These positions usually consist of a center
forward, a center back, the two wing players and the two drivers. Players who are skilled in all positions of
offense or defense are called utility players. Utility players tend to come off of the bench,
though this is not absolute. Certain body types are more suited for particular
positions, and left-handed players are especially coveted on the right-hand side of the field,
allowing teams to launch two-sided attacks.===Offense===
The offensive positions include: one center forward (also called a “set”, “hole-set”,
“center”, “setter”, “hole”, or “2-meter man”, located on or near the 2-meter, roughly in
the center of the goal), two wings (located on or near the 2-meter, just outside of the
goal posts, respectively), two drivers (also called “flats”, located on or near the 5-meter,
roughly at the goal posts, respectively), and one “point” (usually just behind the 5
meter, roughly in the center of the goal, respectively), positioned farthest from the
goal. The wings, drivers and point are often called
the perimeter players; while the hole-set directs play. There is a typical numbering system for these
positions in U.S. NCAA men’s division one polo. Beginning with the offensive wing to the opposing
goalie’s right side is called one. The flat in a counter clockwise from one is
called two. Moving along in the same direction the point
player is three, the next flat is four, the final wing is five, and the hole set is called
six. Additionally, the position in which a player
is can give advantages based on a player’s handedness, to improve a shooting or passing
angle (for example, the right wing is often left handed). The center sets up in front of the opposing
team’s goalie and scores the most individually (especially during lower level play where
flats do not have the required strength to effectively shoot from outside or to penetrate
and then pass to teammates like the point guard in basketball, or center midfield player
in soccer). The center’s position nearest to the goal
allows explosive shots from close-range.===Defense===
Defensive positions are often the same, but just switched from offence to defence. For example, the centre forward or hole set,
who directs the attack on offence, on defence is known as “hole D” (also known as set guard,
hole guard, hole check, pit defence or two-metre defence), and guards the opposing team’s centre
forward (also called the hole). Defence can be played man-to-man or in zones,
such as a 2–4 (four defenders along the goal line). It can also be played as a combination of
the two in what is known as an “M drop” defence, in which the point defender moves away (“sloughs
off”) his man into a zone in order to better defend the centre position. In this defence, the two wing defenders split
the area furthest from the goal, allowing them a clearer lane for the counter-attack
if their team recovers the ball.===Goalkeeper===The goalkeeper has the main role in blocking
shots against the goal as well as guiding and informing their defense of imposing threats
and gaps in the defense. The goalkeeper usually begins the offensive
play by passing the ball across the pool to an attacker. It is not unusual for a goalkeeper to make
an assisting pass to a goal on a break away. The goalkeeper is given several privileges
above those of the other players, but only within the five-meter area in front of their
own goal: The ability to punch the ball with a clenched
fist, The ability to touch the ball with two hands.In
general, a foul that would cause an ejection of a field player might bring on a five-metre
shot on the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper also has one limitation that
other players do not have: he cannot cross the half-distance line. Also, if a goalkeeper pushes the ball under
water, the action will not be punished with a turnover like with field players, but with
a penalty shot.==Common techniques and practices=====
Offense strategy===Player positioning
The most basic positional set up is known as a “3–3”, so called because there are
two lines in front of the opponent’s goal. Another set up, used more by professional
teams, is known as an “arc”, “umbrella”, or “mushroom”; perimeter players form the shape
of an arc around the goal, with the hole set as the handle or stalk. Yet another option for offensive set is called
a 4–2 or double hole; there are two center forward offensive players in front of the
goal. Double hole is most often used in “man up”
situations, or when the defense has only one skilled “hole D”, or to draw in a defender
and then pass out to a perimeter player for a shot (“kick out”). Another, albeit less common offense, is the
“motion c”, sometimes nicknamed “washing machine offence”, in which two “weak-side” (to the
right of the goal for right-handed players) perimeter players set up as a wing and a flat. The remaining four players swim in square
pattern in which a player swims from the point to the hole and then out to the strong side
wing. The wing moves to the flat and the flat to
the point. The weak side wing and flat then control the
tempo of play and try to make passes into the player driving towards the centre forward
who can then either shoot or pass. This form of offence is used when no dominate
hole set is available, or the hole defence is too strong. It is also seen much more often in women’s
water polo where teams may lack a player of sufficient size or strength to set up in the
centre forward. The best advantage to this system is it makes
man-coverage much more difficult for the defender and allows the offence to control the game
tempo better once the players are “set up”. The main drawback is this constant motion
can be very tiring as well as somewhat predictable as to where the next pass is going to go. Advancing the ball
When the offence takes possession of the ball, the strategy is to advance the ball down the
field of play and to score a goal. Players can move the ball by throwing it to
a teammate or swimming with the ball in front of them (dribbling). If an attacker uses his/her arm to push away
a defending player and free up space for a pass or shot, the referee will rule a turnover
and the defence will take possession of the ball. If an attacker advances inside the 2-metre
line without the ball or before the ball is inside the 2-metre area, (s)he is ruled offside
and the ball is turned over to the defence. This is often overlooked if the attacker is
well to the side of the pool or when the ball is at the other side of the pool. Setting the ball
The key to the offence is to accurately pass (or “set”) the ball into the centre forward
or hole set, positioned directly in front of the goal (“the hole”). Any field player may throw the hole set a
“wet pass”. A wet pass is one that hits the water just
outside the hole set’s reach. A dry pass may also be used. This is where the hole set receives the ball
directly in his hand and then attempts a shot at the cage. This pass is much more difficult because if
the pass is not properly caught, the officials will be likely to call an offensive foul resulting
in a change of ball possession. The hole set attempts to take possession of
the ball [after a wet pass], to shoot at the goal, or to draw a foul from his defender. A minor foul is called if his defender (called
the “hole D”) attempts to impede movement before the hole set has possession. The referee indicates the foul with one short
whistle blow and points one hand to the spot of the foul and the other hand in the direction
of the attack of the team to whom the free throw has been awarded. The hole set then has a “reasonable amount
of time” (typically about three seconds; there is no FINA rule on this issue) to re-commence
play by making a free pass to one of the other players. The defensive team cannot hinder the hole
set until the free throw has been taken, but the hole set cannot shoot a goal once the
foul has been awarded until the ball has been played by at least one other player. If the hole set attempts a goal without the
free throw, the goal is not counted and the defence takes possession of the ball, unless
the shot is made outside the 5-metre line. As soon as the hole set has a free pass, the
other attacking players attempt to swim (or drive) away from their defenders towards the
goal. The players at the flat position will attempt
to set a screen (also known as a pick) for the driver. If a driver gets free from a defender, the
player calls for the pass from the hole set and attempts a shot at the goal. Man-Up (5 on 6)
If a defender interferes with a free throw, holds or sinks an attacker who is not in possession
or splashes water into the face of an opponent, the defensive player is excluded from the
game for twenty seconds, known as a ‘kick out’ or an ejection. The attacking team typically positions 4 players
on the 2 metre line, and 2 players on 5 metre line (4–2), passing the ball around until
an open player attempts a shot. Other formations include a 3–3 (two lines
of three attackers each) or arc (attackers make an arc in front of the goal and one offensive
player sits in the ‘hole’ or ‘pit’ in front of the goal). The five defending players try to pressure
the attackers, block shots and prevent a goal being scored for the 20 seconds while they
are a player down. The other defenders can only block the ball
with one hand to help the goalkeeper. The defensive player is allowed to return
immediately if the offence scores, or if the defence recovers the ball before the twenty
seconds expires.===Defense strategy===On defence, the players work to regain possession
of the ball and to prevent a goal in their own net. The defence attempts to knock away or steal
the ball from the offense or to commit a foul in order to stop an offensive player from
taking a goal shot. The defender attempts to stay between the
attacker and the goal, a position known as inside water. Goalkeeper Even with good backup from the rest of the
defenders, stopping attacks can prove very difficult if the goalkeeper remains in the
middle of the goal. The most defensible position is along a semicircular
line connecting the goalposts and extending out in the centre. Depending on the ball carrier’s location,
the goalkeeper is positioned along that semicircle roughly a metre out of the goal to reduce
the attacker’s shooting angle. The goalkeeper stops using his or her hands
to tread water once the opponent enters at about the 7 metre mark and starts to lift
their upper body using the eggbeater technique to prepare to block the shot. Finally the goalkeeper tries to block the
ball down, which is often hard for the longer reaches, but prevents an offensive rebound
and second shot. As is the case with other defensive players,
a goalkeeper who aggressively fouls an attacker in position to score can be charged with a
penalty shot for the other team. The goalkeeper can also be ejected for twenty
seconds if a major foul is committed. Also inside the five metre mark, the goalie
can swing at the ball with a closed fist without being penalised. Advantage rule
If an offensive player, such as the centre forward, has possession of the ball in front
of the goal, the defensive player tries to steal the ball or to keep the centre from
shooting or passing. If the defender cannot achieve these aims,
he may commit a foul intentionally. The hole set then is given a free throw but
must pass off the ball to another offensive player, rather than making a direct shot at
the goal. Defensive perimeter players may also intentionally
cause a minor foul and then move toward the goal, away from their attacker, who must take
a free throw. This technique, called sloughing, allows the
defense an opportunity to double-team the hole set and possibly steal the inbound pass. The referee may refrain from declaring a foul,
if in his judgment this would give the advantage to the offender’s team. This is known as the Advantage Rule.==Injuries==
Water polo is a contact sport, with little protective gear besides swim suits and caps
with ear protectors and thus injuries are common. Among the most frequent serious injuries are
those affecting the head and shoulders. Those induced to the head are usually caused
by elbows or the ball itself, while shoulder injuries are a result of grabbing or pushing
while shooting or passing. Other injuries take place underwater, such
as leg and groin injuries, as many things can not be seen from above the surface and
not much padding is used to protect the players. Sunburn is a common minor injury in outdoor
matches. The irritation of the sunburn can be restrictive
because of the sheer amount of movement involved in the sport. Players will often neglect applying sunscreen
as this will impair the player’s ability to grip the ball and rapidly deteriorate the
ball’s physical grip due to the oily nature of sunscreen. Having large amounts of sunscreen on during
an official match is banned by FINA and most other state/national governing bodies.==Variations==
Inner tube water polo is a style of water polo in which players, excluding the goalkeeper,
are required to float in inner tubes. By floating in an inner tube players expend
less energy than traditional water polo players, not having to tread water. This allows casual players to enjoy water
polo without undertaking the intense conditioning required for conventional water polo. Surf polo, another variation of water polo,
is played on surfboards. First played on the beaches of Waikiki in
Hawaii in the 1930s and 1940s, it is credited to Louis Kahanamoku, Duke Kahanamoku’s brother. Canoe polo or kayak polo is one of the eight
disciplines of canoeing pursued in the UK, known simply as “polo” by its aficionados. Polo combines paddling and ball handling skills
with a contact team game, where tactics and positional play are as important as the speed
and fitness of the individual athletes. Flippa ball is a precursor variant intended
for younger and beginner players to learn the basics of polo. It is played in shallow water and permits
touching the bottom of the pool. Players rotate positions after each score.==Water polo equipment==Little player equipment is needed to play
water polo. Items required in water polo include: Ball: A water polo ball is constructed of
waterproof material to allow it to float on the water. The cover is textured to give players additional
grip. The size of the ball is different for men’s,
women’s and junior games. Caps: A water polo cap is used to protect
the players’ heads and ears, and to make them identifiable from afar. Home team field players wear numbered dark-colored
caps; Visiting team field players wear numbered white caps. Both starting goalkeepers wear red caps (sometimes
quartered), numbered “1” (substitute goalies’ caps are numbered either “13” for FINA international
play or “15” for NCAA play) Caps are fitted with ear protectors. Goals: Two goals are needed in order to play
water polo. These can either be put on the side of the
pool, or in the pool using floaters. Mouthguard: A mouthguard is not mandatory
in most tournaments, but is recommended. Swimwear: Male water polo players wear either
swim briefs or jammers (thigh-length trunks). Female players must wear a one-piece swimsuit. Suit-grabbing fouls are common, so players
often wear tight-fitting suits, and may layer on several suits at a time for additional
security. Many swimwear labels also sell specialized
water polo suits that feature reinforced stitching and tougher fabric. Female water polo suits are generally one-piece
outfits which do not have open backs, but zip securely up the back so as to not have
straps that can be easily grabbed.==Major competitions==Men’s water polo at the Olympics was the first
team sport introduced at the 1900 games, along with cricket, rugby, football, polo (with
horses), rowing and tug of war. Women’s water polo became an Olympic sport
at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games after political protests from the Australian women’s team.One
of the most historically known matches often referred to as the Blood in the Water match,
was a 1956 Summer Olympics semi-final match between Hungary and the Soviet Union, played
in Melbourne. As the athletes left for the games, the Hungarian
revolution began, and the Soviet army crushed the uprising. 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. Every 2 to 4 years since 1973, a men’s Water
Polo World Championship is organized within the FINA World Aquatics Championships. Women’s water polo was added in 1986. A second tournament series, the FINA Water
Polo World Cup, has been held every other year since 1979. In 2002, FINA organised the sport’s first
international league, the FINA Water Polo World League. There is also a European Water Polo Championship
that is held every other year. Professional water polo is played in many
Southern and Eastern European countries like Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Hungary,
Italy, Russia, Spain, etc. with the LEN Euroleague tournament played amongst the best teams. There is also a World Club Water Polo Challenge.==See also==
Swimming (sport) Synchronised swimming
Water aerobics Water volleyball

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