Rules of Water Polo

Richard Foster
2 min readNov 5, 2021

is a fast-paced game, with continuous action for the duration of the match. The rules are relatively simple to learn and can be applied to many water sports including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and surfing. There are two teams that compete against each other to score goals by throwing or pushing the ball into their opponents’ net. The players on these teams must observe the following rules.


The players must remain within the boundaries of their own designated area. While in the pool, where this game takes place, one cannot leave the pool as long as the game’s status is active.

Trending Water

The players’ feet must not touch the ground on either side of the pool. This ensures that they do not gain any support from their surroundings and maintain balance while in water even if they are pushed by another player or fall into a struggle.


Time is very sensitive in this game. When in possession of the ball, a team only has thirty-five seconds to score a goal. If they do not score within this time frame, possession is given to the opposing team. Water polo is divided into quarters, with each taking a maximum of eight minutes to play. Since fouls, stoppages, and timeouts must be accounted for, the total length of one quarter can take up to twelve minutes.

Ordinary Foul

An ordinary foul or minor foul is committed by the player who holds the ball. If they accidentally drop it, this will not be considered a violation of the rules unless another player obstructs them from regaining possession of it. The referee has the authority to punish players for committing an ordinary foul with one minute in the penalty box where no substitutions are allowed or awarding a free throw to the opposing team.

Major Foul

The punishment for a is a temporal ejection from the game, where a player is allowed to resume after twenty seconds . However, if one player commits three fouls within one game, they are automatically ejected and cannot play for the remaining time. Major fouls include pushing an opponent underwater while in possession of the ball or using underhand methods to gain an advantage over them.

Originally published at



Richard Foster

Based in Seal Beach, CA, Richard Foster is an attorney, author, and graduate instructor. For more, visit to stay up to date!