A water polo team is made up of a goalkeeper and 6 field
players. There are 13 players in a team but only 7 in the
water at any one time.
Traditionally the away team wears blue caps and the home
team wears white, with the goalkeepers wearing red.
A player is not allowed to change cap number during a game
except with the permission of the referee and notification
of the scoring table.
Cap numbers are used by the referees to identify the players.
Numbers 1 and 13 are reserved for Goalkeepers.
Positions in the pool are extremely fluid and each member
of the team should be comfortable playing them all, even goalkeeper!
The defensive player who plays closest to (nearly in) the
goal. The goalie is excepted from several rules, as long
as he/she remains inside the five-meter line. For example,
the goalie may touch the ball with two hands simultaneously,
and can punch the ball. The goalie is also allowed to stand
during play. Outside the five-meter line, goalies must adhere
to field player rules. They are not allowed to cross the
Goalies stay within or very near the goal for the entirety
of the game. Their responsibilities include blocking shots,
making long passes on counter attacks, and communicating
with and directing their team during defence. They are the
only player that is allowed to touch the ball with two hands
and — in pools with a shallow end — stand on
the bottom. While they swim far less than field players,
goalies should still have a quick stroke in the event that
they need to swim a ball away from a defender.
Ability to make long, accurate passes
Loud voice and good sense of the game
Centre Forward or Hole Set
The offensive player who establishes a position directly
in front of the opponents' goal, between the two- and five-meter
lines. This position is usually played by someone who has
superb leg-strength and is one of the larger players on
the team. Also called hole sets or 2-meter men, these players
must have excellent passing and shooting skills.
The Centre Forward is one of the most crucial players in
the offensive set up. Positioned directly in front of the
goal, they are often guarded by the best opposing defender.
Hole sets need to draw lots of fouls, have an excellent
eggbeater, and be ready to take quick shots. The hole will
also be responsible for making good passes to perimeter
players and communicating with the team.
Toughness and endurance
Reliable sweep shots and backhands
Ability to draw fouls
Ability to spot open teammates on both sides of the
Ability to make good pressure passes
Loud voice and good sense of the game
Wings, flats, and the point are positioned around the hole
set in a semicircle. They are also known as perimeter players
and drivers. Wings play on either side of the goal along
or near the two-meter line. Flats are above the wings, on
or near the five-meter line. The point is between the two
flats, usually a little outside the five-meter line. Because
of their place in the water, the point will often be the
first one back on defence and therefore the opposing hole
set’s defender. The job of all these perimeter players
is to set the ball, initiate drives or picks, and to get
open for passes and shots.
Drivers are field players who specialise in escaping
their defenders by swimming toward the goal. Drivers
have outstanding hand-eye coordination, are good shooters,
and by definition, must be fast swimmers.
Knowledge of drives and picks
Shooting, including wet shots and dry shots
Excellent passing, especially under pressure
Communicating plays and changes in defensive coverage
The only defensive position (somewhat) set in stone
is that of the hole set’s defender, also known
as the “hole D.” This player should be skilled
at stealing the ball and strong enough to defend the
other team’s hole set. The rest of the field players
will match up with an offender as they swim down the
pool. As the other team sets up their offense, it may
be necessary to for defenders to switch players, to
put two defenders on one person, or to play in zones.