Hello everyone. Jason has asked me to provide some basic rules on how to play water polo. With the men's season coming up, it would be good for a refresher. It will be as brief as possible.
Team size depends on league. For example, FINA sets the maximum at 13 players (2 goalies and 11 field players). NCAA's requirements are a lot looser. The goalie will always be number 1, 1A, 1B, and so on for NCAA, or 1 and 13 for FINA leagues, and they always wear a red cap, regardless of team colors. Field players wear white caps for away, and team color caps for home (but not red; that is exclusive for the goalie.) For FINA play, home caps are always blue.
There are six players in the pool in addition to the goalie. Usually, you have positions 1, 5, and 6 be your offensive side, while 2, 3, and 4 act as defense. Position 6 is the closest to the opposing team's goal, while the others follow downwards in a counterclockwise pattern. The objective is to score as many goals as you can, similar to soccer or hockey. However, field players may only use one hand on the ball at a time. Goalies can use both.
Gameplay is divided into four 8-minute quarters, with a three minute time out between each quarter and a five minute halftime. If it goes into overtime, then OT periods are three minutes each, and will continue until the score is no longer tied (and a winner is determined).
Fouls are a topic all on their own, so I might discuss them in further detail later. There are minor fouls, where a player gets a warning; exclusion fouls, where a player is excluded from the game for a short time; and ejection fouls where a player is removed from a game entirely. The latter are almost never issued unless the situation is serious, such as fighting.
If you have any more questions, please register for the forums, and ask them there, or you may fill out TCS's form on the website. Thank you.