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 and throw the ball into their opponent’s goal. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins the match. Each team 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 seven feet (or two meters) deep. Special equipment for water polo includes a water polo ball, which floats on the water; numbered and colored 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 places around the world, including Europe, the United States, Brazil, China, Canada and Australia.

The rules of water polo cover the play, procedure, equipment and officiating of water polo. These rules are similar throughout the world, although slight variations to the rules do occur regionally and depending on the governing body. Governing bodies of water polo include FINA, the international governing organization for the rules; the NCAA rules, which govern the rules for collegiate matches in the United States; the NFHS rules which govern the rules in high schools in the USA and the IOC rules which govern the rules at Olympic events.

There are seven players in the water from each team at one time. There are six players that play out and one goalkeeper. Unlike most common team sports, there is little positional play; field players will often fill several positions throughout the game as situations demand. These positions usually consist of a center forward, a center back, the two wing players and the two drivers. Players who are skilled in all positions of offense or defense are called utility players. Utility players tend to come off of the bench, though this is not absolute. Certain body types are more suited for particular positions, and left-handed players are especially coveted on the right-hand side of the field, allowing teams to launch 2-sided attacks.

The center sets up in front of the opposing team’s goalie and scores the most individually (especially during lower level play where flats do not have the required strength to effectively shoot from outside or to penetrate and then pass to teammates like the point guard in basketball). The center’s position nearest to the goal allows explosive shots from close-range. Defensive positions are often the same, but just switched from offense to defense. For example, the center forward or hole set, who directs the attack on offense, on defense is known as “hole D” (also known as set guard, hole guard, hole check, pit defense or two-meter defense), and guards the opposing team’s center forward (also called the hole). Defense can be played man-to-man or in zones, such as a 2–4 (four defenders along the goal line). It can also be played as a combination of the two in what is known as an “M drop” defense, in which the point defender moves away (“sloughs off”) his man into a zone in order to better defend the center position. In this defense, the two wing defenders split the area furthest from the goal, allowing them a clearer lane for the counter-attack if their team recovers the ball.