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Guest Wikipedia

Water polo

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Water polo is a competitive team sport played in the water between two teams. The game consists of four quarters in which the two teams attempt to score goals by throwing the ball into the opposing team's goal. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins the match. Each team is made up of six field players and one goalkeeper. Except for the goalkeeper, players participate in both offensive and defensive roles. Water polo is typically played in an all-deep pool meaning that players cannot touch the bottom.

A game of water polo consists of the players swimming to move about the pool, treading water (often using the eggbeater kick technique), passing the ball and shooting at goal. Teamwork, tactical thinking and game awareness are also highly important aspects in a game of water polo. Water polo is a highly physical and demanding sport and has frequently been cited as one of the toughest sports to play.

Special equipment for water polo includes a water polo ball, a ball which floats on the water; numbered and coloured caps; and two goals, which either float in the water or are attached to the side of the pool.

The game is thought to have originated in Scotland in the late 19th century as a sort of "water rugby". William Wilson is thought to have developed the game during a similar period. The game thus developed with the formation of the London Water Polo League and has since expanded, becoming widely popular in various parts of Europe, the United States, Brazil, China, Canada and Australia.

Common techniques and practices

Offense strategy

Player positioning
The most basic positional set up is known as a "3–3", so called because there are two lines in front of the opponent's goal. Another set up, used more by professional teams, is known as an "arc", "umbrella", or "mushroom"; perimeter players form the shape of an arc around the goal, with the hole set as the handle or stalk. Yet another option for offensive set is called a 4–2 or double hole; there are two center forward offensive players in front of the goal. Double hole is most often used in "man up" situations, or when the defense has only one skilled "hole D", or to draw in a defender and then pass out to a perimeter player for a shot ("kick out").

Another, albeit less common offense, is the "motion c", sometimes nicknamed "washing machine offence", in which two "weak-side" (to the right of the goal for right-handed players) perimeter players set up as a wing and a flat. The remaining four players swim in square pattern in which a player swims from the point to the hole and then out to the strong side wing. The wing moves to the flat and the flat to the point. The weak side wing and flat then control the tempo of play and try to make passes into the player driving towards the centre forward who can then either shoot or pass. This form of offence is used when no dominate hole set is available, or the hole defence is too strong. It is also seen much more often in women's water polo where teams may lack a player of sufficient size or strength to set up in the centre forward. The best advantage to this system is it makes man-coverage much more difficult for the defender and allows the offence to control the game tempo better once the players are "set up". The main drawback is this constant motion can be very tiring as well as somewhat predictable as to where the next pass is going to go.

Advancing the ball
When the offence takes possession of the ball, the strategy is to advance the ball down the field of play and to score a goal. Players can move the ball by throwing it to a teammate or swimming with the ball in front of them (dribbling). If an attacker uses his/her arm to push away a defending player and free up space for a pass or shot, the referee will rule a turnover and the defence will take possession of the ball. If an attacker advances inside the 2-metre line without the ball or before the ball is inside the 2-metre area, (s)he is ruled offside and the ball is turned over to the defence. This is often overlooked if the attacker is well to the side of the pool or when the ball is at the other side of the pool.

Setting the ball
The key to the offence is to accurately pass (or "set") the ball into the centre forward or hole set, positioned directly in front of the goal ("the hole"). Any field player may throw the hole set a "wet pass". A wet pass is one that hits the water just outside the hole set's reach. A dry pass may also be used. This is where the hole set receives the ball directly in his hand and then attempts a shot at the cage. This pass is much more difficult because if the pass is not properly caught, the officials will be likely to call an offensive foul resulting in a change of ball possession. The hole set attempts to take possession of the ball [after a wet pass], to shoot at the goal, or to draw a foul from his defender. A minor foul is called if his defender (called the "hole D") attempts to impede movement before the hole set has possession. The referee indicates the foul with one short whistle blow and points one hand to the spot of the foul and the other hand in the direction of the attack of the team to whom the free throw has been awarded. The hole set then has a "reasonable amount of time" (typically about three seconds; there is no FINA rule on this issue) to re-commence play by making a free pass to one of the other players. The defensive team cannot hinder the hole set until the free throw has been taken, but the hole set cannot shoot a goal once the foul has been awarded until the ball has been played by at least one other player. If the hole set attempts a goal without the free throw, the goal is not counted and the defence takes possession of the ball, unless the shot is made outside the 5-metre line. As soon as the hole set has a free pass, the other attacking players attempt to swim (or drive) away from their defenders towards the goal. The players at the flat position will attempt to set a screen (also known as a pick) for the driver. If a driver gets free from a defender, the player calls for the pass from the hole set and attempts a shot at the goal.

Man-Up (5 on 6)
If a defender interferes with a free throw, holds or sinks an attacker who is not in possession or splashes water into the face of an opponent, the defensive player is excluded from the game for twenty seconds, known as a 'kick out' or an ejection. The attacking team typically positions 4 players on the 2 metre line, and 2 players on 5 metre line (4–2), passing the ball around until an open player attempts a shot. Other formations include a 3–3 (two lines of three attackers each) or arc (attackers make an arc in front of the goal and one offensive player sits in the 'hole' or 'pit' in front of the goal). The five defending players try to pressure the attackers, block shots and prevent a goal being scored for the 20 seconds while they are a player down. The other defenders can only block the ball with one hand to help the goalkeeper. The defensive player is allowed to return immediately if the offence scores, or if the defence recovers the ball before the twenty seconds expires.

Defense strategy
On defence, the players work to regain possession of the ball and to prevent a goal in their own net. The defence attempts to knock away or steal the ball from the offense or to commit a foul in order to stop an offensive player from taking a goal shot. The defender attempts to stay between the attacker and the goal, a position known as inside water.

Goalkeeper
Even with good backup from the rest of the defenders, stopping attacks can prove very difficult if the goalkeeper remains in the middle of the goal. The most defensible position is along a semicircular line connecting the goalposts and extending out in the centre. Depending on the ball carrier's location, the goalkeeper is positioned along that semicircle roughly a metre out of the goal to reduce the attacker's shooting angle. The goalkeeper stops using his or her hands to tread water once the opponent enters at about the 7 metre mark and starts to lift their upper body using the eggbeater technique to prepare to block the shot. Finally the goalkeeper tries to block the ball down, which is often hard for the longer reaches, but prevents an offensive rebound and second shot. As is the case with other defensive players, a goalkeeper who aggressively fouls an attacker in position to score can be charged with a penalty shot for the other team. The goalkeeper can also be ejected for twenty seconds if a major foul is committed. Also inside the five metre mark, the goalie can swing at the ball with a closed fist without being penalised.

Advantage rule If an offensive player, such as the centre forward, has possession of the ball in front of the goal, the defensive player tries to steal the ball or to keep the centre from shooting or passing. If the defender cannot achieve these aims, he may commit a foul intentionally. The hole set then is given a free throw but must pass off the ball to another offensive player, rather than making a direct shot at the goal. Defensive perimeter players may also intentionally cause a minor foul and then move toward the goal, away from their attacker, who must take a free throw. This technique, called sloughing, allows the defense an opportunity to double-team the hole set and possibly steal the inbound pass. The referee may refrain from declaring a foul, if in his judgment this would give the advantage to the offender's team. This is known as the Advantage Rule.

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