Water polo is an aquatic sport where two teams compete against one another to see who can score the most goals. Like soccer, there are goal posts set up on both the home and away side, however the sport is played in a pool. Each team has seven players in the water: one goalie and six outfielders. The game consists of four eight-minute quarters. In the early stages of the sport, athletes rode on floating barrels that resembled horses, and used sticks to swing the ball in the goal. This was similar to equestrian polo and the reason why it got its name water polo.
Water polo balls are similar in size to a soccer ball or volleyball. There are 5 different sizes of water polo balls, ranging from size 1 to size 5. Water polo balls are made out of PVC, Nylon, or Rubber and come in various different solid colors, color blocks, or unique prints. Popular brands include Finis, Kap7, Mikasa, and RYTE Sport. A typical water polo ball ranges in price from $20 to $35.
Water polo bags are not much different than an ordinary gym/duffel bag. The bags are often made of a polyester or mesh fabric and are made to be able to carry any given number of water polo balls, depending on the size of it. Ball bags range in price from $5 to $50. Common brands are Kap7, Mikasa, Mikasa Sports USA, and Sporti.
Water polo ball carts are another form of storage for water polo balls. While water polo ball bags can be made more for the purpose of transporting the balls from place to place, a water polo ball cart is made more for a stationary purpose. Some ball carts are made with wheels to move around, while other ball carts only can be moved by being picked up. Ball carts are expensive and usually cost anywhere between $100 and $200.
Water polo caps are worn on a player's head. The cap prevents a player's hair from getting in the way of their vision. The top of a water polo cap contains a built in head guard that prevents a player from suffering a concussion or possible injury if they are hit in the head by a ball or by another player. The sides of a water polo cap contain a set of ear protectors that ensure a player's ear does not get ruptured or injured. Water polo caps can be bought from companies like Finis, Kap7, TYR, and Turbo. They can get expensive depending on the size or color, and usually cost a couple hundred dollars for a singular cap or for a set of caps. To show which team they are on, a player wears a certain color cap representative of their team.
Water polo cones are like any other ordinary plastic cone used in other sports for training. Several different color cones are lined up around the base of the pool and serve as the perimeter. The cones are positioned on the pool deck in-line with the imaginary boundaries to help the referee determine where the player and the ball stand. The cones are really only used to benefit the judges and the refs, not the players.
A water polo scoreboard is expensive and the controls for it are hard to master. The control buttons are either on touch screens or involve a person needing to push a few buttons to reset the shot clock or to add a score or penalty to one team's side. Once learned, the scoreboard is easy to maneuver. As in the name, a water polo scoreboard keeps track of the score throughout the game, along with the time left in each quarter.
The scoreboard ranges anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars in price.
Water polo goals are what each team is aiming to score in. They sit at either end of the pool, similar to how soccer goals sit on a field. The dimensions of the goal are 118 inches wide and 36 inches high. A water polo goal net is replaceable if it rips from long term use or from a heavy shot. The nets are deep at the top and at the bottom and are made of a mesh fabric. A team only scores a goal when the ball completely crosses the white goal line.
Water polo goals range in price depending on the size and on the quality of the goal. A professional water polo goal is large and usually costs anywhere from $500 to $100 to purchase. Air Goal Sports is a popular brand that manufactures a great deal of water polo goals.
Mouth guards are a key piece of equipment in water polo. Many different competitive water polo leagues require their players to wear a mouth guard, and the majority of professional Olympic water polo players wear one as well. Mouth guards make it so your teeth are better protected. Furthermore, if one is hit hard in the teeth by a ball or by a player, the mouth guard can absorb a lot of the impact if one closes their mouth and bites down. This can prevent serious concussions and mouth injuries.
Water polo perimeter netting is 4 inches thick and is used to cover parts of the perimeter of the pool during gameplay. It is especially useful if the pool being used is larger than the needed space for gameplay. The perimeter netting is used to prevent other individuals from interfering and to ensure the water polo ball does not get thrown too far away from where the game is being played. The perimeter netting can be bought almost anywhere and varies in price depending on how much netting is present.
Some water polo goals are made to be smaller, so they are able to be portable. These goals are still durable and safe to use for a water polo game. Like a pump used to blow up the wheels on a bike or on a car, there is a pump specifically for these types of goals. In order to set up and to inflate the goal, the pump for the goal blows air into all of the necessary components (the posts and the crossbar) to make sure the goal will stand up straight and be fully functional.
A referee is subject to blow their whistle in a game of water polo when a team scores a goal, when a minor or major penalty occurs indicating a change in possession or penalty, or when the water polo ball goes out of bounds. There are two referees that are located at opposite ends of the pool from one another. A referee whistle is cheap and only costs $5 to $10 to buy from any type of athletic store.
The yellow and red cards used in water polo are similar to the yellow and red cards used in soccer and are usually made of some sort of plastic. In water polo, there are two different kinds of fouls that can be committed, minor and major fouls. A minor foul results in possession being given to the team not guilty of the foul. Common minor fouls include holding the ball underwater to waste time, holding the ball with two hands, walking on or pushing off of the bottom of the pool, or having a 30-second shot clock violation. Depending on the extent of these, a yellow card will be presented.
A major foul is more serious and often specific to an individual player. The most common major foul is to hold, sink, or pull back a player who is not in possession of the water polo ball. Major fouls can result in a penalty or into an immediate ejection from gameplay. Major fouls are not as common, but a red card will often be presented.
Swimsuits are necessary whenever an individual enters the water for a swim or to play a sport like water polo. There are many different brands of swimsuits, and some of these include: Sporti, Nike, Speedo, and TYR. For recreational play, men often just wear swim trunks (the shorts) and go into the pool shirtless, and women either wear a one piece swimsuit or a two piece swimsuit depending on their personal preference.
For competitive play, men usually wear speedos and women wear one piece suits. These suits limit the amount of surface area that other players may be able to grab onto, so they want their suits to be as tight as possible while still allowing full movement.
Water polo towels are the usual beach towels that an individual would bring to the pool or to the beach. Towels are made out of polyester or cotton, and often cost $10 to $40 depending on the size, color, or pattern.
Equipment you will need for water polo includes caps, mouthguards, swimming trunks or suits, a ball, two goals, and some swim goggles. Additional equipment you will need are storage devices such as ball carts and bags. Also, to keep score, you should have a scoreboard and a control system. If someone you are playing with is also reffing, bring a whistle and some yellow and red cards so that they can make calls.
Water polo equipment is unique because of its durability to last in water. Caps are specifically designed to protect you from contact with others. Mouthguards, like in any contact sport, help protect your pearly whites from the ball or even a wild elbow from another athlete. The durability of the equipment makes it last long and protect you while playing water polo.
The most important piece of equipment to buy is the water cap. The cap not only identifies whose team you are on, it also protects your entire head just in case it gets hit with the ball. The mouthguard is an essential piece to protect your teeth from collisions with the ball or other players. The ball is also important to have, because the pools you practice or compete in will most likely already have goals and even a scoreboard set up. Lastly, you will need a towel so you can dry off after your session in the pool. These are the most important because you might already have an extra pair of trunks lying around.
Water polo caps are usually sold in team sets for a couple hundred dollars, but a single cap can cost you about $12. Mouth guards can also cost about $12 depending on the brand. Finally the balls cost about $30, and towels around $12.