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what is water polo?

Water polo is famous for being a physically challenging sport, since players need to be able to swim, tread water, throw a ball, and even wrestle – all without touching the bottom. However, it’s also an incredibly fun & dynamic game for people both young and old, and kids from a variety of athletic backgrounds can transfer their skills to water polo! Those who’ve developed skills in swimming, wrestling, basketball, rugby, soccer, baseball and other sports will find that some of their expertise directly translates.
That said, there are three fundamental skill groups that we will be focusing on: head-up swimming, “egg-beater” treading water, and one-handed passing & shooting. You can only use one hand at a time in water polo! In addition, we’ll be teaching the rules, tactics, and strategies involved in an official game setting.

As for how a competitive game works, water polo is played in all-deep water, so there’s no standing or pushing off the bottom (or walls). Each team has seven players, divided between one goalie and six field players. Like basketball, all field players have important roles on both sides of the pool, going back & forth between offense & defense. And like many team sports, effective passing and moving with & without the ball create offensive advantages and opportunities to score.

A water polo game consists of four quarters, and teams usually have 4-6 substitutes on the bench. Similar to hockey there are “man-advantage” possessions after a defensive player has been temporarily excluded, and similar to soccer, there are penalty shots from a line six meters from the goal. The teams work to maintain possession and score before the shot clock expires. As you’d expect, the team with the most goals at the end of regulation time wins!
Water polo has an interesting history. First developed in England & Scotland in the 19th century, it’s become a truly international sport and is growing faster than ever within the US. The US teams are competitive at the Olympic level, with the women’s team developing a real dynasty over the past decade. (Fun fact: water polo was the first Olympic team sport back in 1900.) In the US, water polo is played in youth clubs, high schools, all divisions of collegiate play, and also masters clubs in most major metro areas…all Panthers founders are still active masters players, too!

Check out the videos provided to get a better understanding of the sport and how to play.

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