Water polo is a team water sport. It is the oldest continuous Olympic team sport. The playing team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper with a maximum of six substitutes. The winner of the game is the team that scores more goals. Gameplay involves swimming, players passing the ball while being defended by opponents, and scoring by throwing into a net defended by a goalie. Water polo, therefore, has strong similarities to the land-based game of team handball. The frequency of 'man-up' (or 'power play') situations also draws comparisons with ice hockey.
• Swimming: Water polo is a team water sport requiring an ability to swim. Field players must swim end to end of a 30-meter pool non-stop many times during a game without touching the sides or bottom of the pool. The front crawl stroke used in water polo differs from the usual swimming style in that water polo players swim with the head out of water at all times to observe the field. The arm stroke used is also a lot shorter and quicker and is used to protect the ball at all times. Backstroke is used by defending field players to track advancing attackers and by the goalie to track the ball after passing. Water polo backstroke differs from swimming backstroke; the player sits almost upright in the water, using eggbeater leg motions with short arm strokes to the side instead of long straight arm strokes. This allows the player to see the play and quickly switch positions. It also allows the player to quickly catch an oncoming pass with a free hand.
• Ball handling skills: As all field players are only allowed to touch the ball with one hand at a time, they must develop the ability to catch and throw the ball with either hand and also the ability to catch a ball from any direction, including across the body using the momentum of the incoming ball. Experienced water polo players can catch and release a pass or shoot with a single motion. The size of the ball can overwhelm a small child's hand making the sport more suitable for older children. There are also smaller balls that can be used by younger children when playing.
• Treading water: The most common form of water treading is generally referred to as "egg-beater", named because the circular movement of the legs resembles the motion of an egg-beater. Egg beater is used for most of the match as the players cannot touch the bottom of the pool. The advantage of egg-beater is that it allows the player to maintain a constant position to the water level, and uses less energy than other forms of treading water such as the scissor kick, which result in the player bobbing up and down. It can be used vertically or horizontally. Horizontal egg-beater is used to resist forward motion of an attacking player. Vertical eggbeater is used to maintain a position higher than the opponent. By kicking faster for a brief period the player can get high out of the water (as high as their suit—below their waistline) for a block, pass, or shot.
• Reflexes and Awareness: At higher levels of the sport the pace of play rapidly increases, so that anticipation and mental preparation is important. "Field sense" (i.e. staying aware of the surroundings) is a major advantage in scoring, even if a player lacks the speed of an opponent.
Ball handling skills
When passing or shooting, the hips of the player should line up in the direction in which the ball is thrown with one hand which is known as the "David Taxer Effect". When passing, shooting or receiving a ball, the player rotates the whole of the upper body, using egg-beater to keep the lower body in the same position, then releasing the ball with hips lined up in the direction of the throw. For extra accuracy and speed when releasing the ball, a player uses body momentum to follow through at the end of the throw.
There are two basic passes in water polo: the "dry" pass and the "wet" pass. When passing to a field position player, a...
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