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1. THE GAME CLOCKS are located in the far corners at each end of the pool. The Varsity team plays 4 seven-minute quarters. The J.V. team plays 4 six-minute quarters. Novice usually play 4 five-minute quarters. If overtime is necessary, (2) three-minute periods are played. If the game is still tied, three-minute sudden-death periods are played until a winner is determined.

2. THE SHOT CLOCKS are located on the far side of the pool. A team has 35 seconds to shoot. If they do not, the other team is awarded the ball. If the ball is shot within 35 seconds, or a Kick-Out occurs, the clock is reset. The signal for a 35 second violation will be a siren sound.


One point is awarded each time the ball completely passes the goal line.


1. ORDINARY - The offended team shall be awarded a free throw* for the following infractions:

  • Pushing off the bottom: If you can see a player's knees above the water he probably jumped off the bottom.
  • Taking the ball underwater when there is contact by a defender: It is common for a defender to force the offensive player's hand & ball underwater causing a turnover.
  • Offside: It is illegal for an offensive player to be inside the 2-yard line without the ball.
  • Two hands on the ball (except the goalie).
  • To hold, sink, pull back, maim, trash, smash, or thrash an opponent when he is NOT touching the ball. (See KICK-OUT.)

* FREE THROW: May be taken anywhere behind the point of infraction outside the 2-yard line. A free throw taken outside the 7-yard line may be shot immediately for 1 point. A free throw shot inside the 7-yard line, or not taken immediately, will result in a turnover. A free throw usually must be taken within 3 seconds, or the defender can attempt to steal the ball.

2. KICK-OUT - The offensive team will be awarded a free throw and will be in a man advantage situation, 6-on-5. The defensive player will be removed for a maximum of 20 seconds. The ejected player may reenter the game after a goal is scored or when the defensive team gains possession. The referee or score-table will wave in the ejected player. The player may not push off the wall when reentering. He will receive an additional kick-out if he enters early or illegally. Each player is limited to 2 kick-outs per game. If a player receives a third kick-out, he is out for the remainder of the game. That player may be substituted for.


  • To hold, sink, pull back, etc. a player who has offensive advantage or inside water (positioned between the goal and defender). This kick-out occurs frequently.
  • To foul overly aggressive. (Generally this is only called in two circumstances: 1 - The defensive player deliberately rips a limb off of his opponent. 2 - A defender knocks his opponent unconscious...very rare).
  • To deliberately interfere with the taking of a free throw.

3. PENALTY SHOT - A penalty shot is taken on the 4-yard line on the referee's signal. The goalie must have his hips on the goal line. A Penalty Shot is awarded when a defensive player commits any kick-out foul inside the 4-yard line with the object of preventing a goal from being scored. Offensive players often try to draw Penalty Shot penalties when they are inside the 4-yard line. The defensive player called for the illegal defense will be charged 1 kick-out but will not be removed from play unless it was his or her third kick-out.


If there is a double foul, or the referee cannot determine which of the two players is the cause of the foul, he will call a Face-Off. The two opposing players will face the referee and he will drop the ball into the water.


1. If the entire ball passes the goal line outside the goal posts, a free throw will be awarded to the team who did not put the ball out. If the free throw is awarded to the offensive team, the free throw must be taken at the side of the pool on the 2-yard line.

2. If the ball hits the sidewall or lands on the pool deck, a free throw is awarded to the opponent.


The now-educated spectator must realize that although the sport appears to be a " Non-contact Game" on the surface, a lot of action goes on underwater where he, (or the referee, in many cases), cannot see. In general, a defensive player will try to "foul" an opponent who is controlling the ball. The referee will blow his whistle when the foul occurs (that's why there are so many whistles!). The offensive player is now forced to take a free throw, rather than taking a great shot if he is inside the 7-yard line. IMPORTANT: Remember that if the offensive player is holding the ball, no foul will be called.

Courtesy of Grossmont High School Water Polo, La Mesa CA


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