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Get Wet With Water Polo

It's a fast-paced sport that combines swimming, basketball and football. Kidzworld checks out the sport of water polo.

Water Polo - History

The game of water polo has changed in many ways since it was invented in the 1800s. The game originally was played like football on water. Players would tackle, hold and sink each other while trying to touch the ball to a four by one foot board that was a foot above the water. The game was so rough that players often had to be resuscitated after being held under the water for too long. One of the favorite feature plays of early water polo games was called the "flying salmon", where the player with the ball could leap 15 feet through the air from the backs of his teammates, to score a goal over top of the defenders. This spectacular approach was effective but sometimes resulted in injuries to the player picked to be the "flying salmon". By the 20th century, water polo had been toned down a bit with the elimination of some of the rough play and a rule that banned the tackling of a player if he didn't have the ball.

Water Polo - Rules and Basics

  • Each team has seven players, including a goalie.
  • The object of the game is to put the ball into the goals, which are at opposite ends of a pool. Water polo is played in a pool that is 98 feet (30 m) long and 65 feet (20 m) wide. The water in the pool must be at least 5 feet, 11 inches deep - so you need to be able to swim and tread water to play.
  • Players can only move the ball with one hand and it must be carried on the surface of the water.
  • Players can only tackle opponents who have the ball.
  • Games are divided into four seven-minute quarters.

Water Polo - Getting Started

Water polo is a fun sport and a great way to get in shape and improve your fitness. It's one of the best workouts around, with players burning up to 600 calories an hour. The sport is growing across the USA and around the world and many community centers and schools have water polo programs or leagues for kids. Joining a league is a great way to get started or you might want to try learning the sport by going to a camp during the summer or your spring break. 

Water Polo - Fun Facts

  • Water polo players swim up to one 1.5 miles (2.4 km) during a water polo game.
  • Men's water polo was the first team sport added to the Olympic Games in 1900. Women's water polo made its Olympic debut 100 years later at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
  • During a game of water polo, the ball is thrown at speeds of up to 60 miles (96 km) per hour.


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