Water Polo terms for beginners

 Water Polo Singapore 7

Image credit: Siong San/SportSG

Two-metre zone

An area within two metres of the goal, where no player besides the goalkeeper is allowed to be in, unless they are in possession of the ball. Any attacking player without the ball inside the two-metre zone is committing a minor foul. The two metre zone is marked by a red line.

Five-metre line

This refers to a yellow line marking five-meters away from the goal. Penalties are shot from this line, and these are given when an opponent commits a major foul in an attempt to prevent a goal from being shot from the area between the five-metre line and two-metre line.

Bounce shot

This move is done by bouncing the ball off the surface of the water and into the goal or towards a teammate.


As its name suggests, brutality refers to deliberate aggressive action such as punching an opponent. A player found to have committed brutality by the referee is removed from the entire game and the team is not allowed to replace this player for at least four minutes.
Dry pass

A dry pass is when the ball is thrown to another player above water, without the ball touching the water at all.


An ejection is also known as a major foul, and can result in the player being removed from the game for 20 seconds. Examples of a major foul is dunking an opponent under water, deliberately splashing water in opponent’s face or showing disrespect to the referee. Players can only receive three ejections before they are removed from the game altogether.


A shot by any of the perimeter players after receiving a pass from the Center.


A lead takes place when a player throws the ball in front of a teammate who is swimming in that direction, thus the ball is in the lead of the teammate.


A game of water polo is divided into four periods, each lasting from six to eight minutes, depending on the organising committee.

Pump fake

A player does a pump fake when he feigns a bounce shot, positioning himself as though to take a shot, but stopping midway and letting the ball drop.


A rear-back is a way for players to elude their defenders by swimming towards the opponents goal, before allowing himself to slide backwards and waiting for a pass by another teammate. The opposing defender will attempt to swim in front of the player, thus leaving the player free to receive a pass once he slides backwards and eludes his defender.


When a player takes an unsuccessful shot and the ball is temporarily free from any players from either team, this is known as a rebound.


Screening occurs when a player deliberately positions himself in order to block or delay an opponent who is defending his teammate, thus allowing the teammate to pass, receive the ball or take a shot at the goal.

Wet pass

A wet pass is when a player attempts to move the ball across the pool by throwing it to a teammate so that the ball lands in the water in front of his teammate. The teammate then swims towards the ball to retrieve it. This pass is used when the teammate is heavily guarded by an opposing defender, making it risky to move the ball using a dry pass.

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