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Splash into the action-packed arena of water polo!

Navigate the waves of this adrenaline-fueled sport with the ultimate guide to terms that’ll transform you from a sidelines spectator to a strategy-savvy pro.

Ready to talk the talk and swim with the best?

Let’s dive into the lingo that makes every water polo match a thrilling plunge!

Must-Know Water Polo Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Ball under
  2. Cap
  3. Counterattack
  4. Driver
  5. Eggbeater
  6. Exclusion
  7. Goalie
  8. Hole set
  9. Man-up
  10. Offensive foul
  11. Penalty shot
  12. Perimeter
  13. Quarter
  14. Screen
  15. Shot clock
  16. Sprint
  17. Treading water
  18. Turnover
  19. Weak side
  20. Wing
  21. Advantage rule
  22. Backhand
  23. Ball out
  24. Dry pass
  25. Front court
  26. Goal throw
  27. Jump shot
  28. Major foul
  29. Pump fake
  30. Skip shot

#1 Ball Under

This is a violation that occurs when a player forces the ball underwater when tackled by an opponent. The foul is called against the offending player, and possession is turned over to the opposing team.

#2 Cap

The water-resistant headgear worn by players, which has ear guards and is numbered to identify each player. Caps are also color differentiated to distinguish between the two teams competing.

#3 Counterattack

A fast offensive play that happens immediately after regaining possession of the ball, aiming to catch the opponent’s defense off-guard. It is a swift transition from defense to offense.

#4 Driver

An offensive player who typically swims quickly and tries to break away from a defender to get open for a pass or a shot. Drivers are agile and have good ball-handling skills.

#5 Eggbeater

A leg-kicking technique used by water polo players to maintain an upright, stable position and elevation above the water. The motion resembles the beaters of an eggbeater, hence the name.

#6 Exclusion

A temporary ejection of a player, also known as a major foul, resulting in the player being sidelined for 20 seconds, allowing the opposing team to have a numerical advantage called “man-up.”

#7 Goalie

The player responsible for guarding the goal area and preventing the opposing team from scoring. The goalie typically has specialized skills and is the only player allowed to touch the ball with two hands.

#8 Hole Set

The hole set, also known as the “set position” or “center forward,” is a crucial offensive position located near the opponent’s goal. The player in this position works to create scoring opportunities by receiving the ball, holding position against defenders, and making plays either by shooting or passing to teammates.

#9 Man-up

This term refers to the advantage a team has when they are on a power play due to an opponent being excluded for a foul. It offers the team a numeric advantage, which they try to capitalize on to score.

#10 Offensive Foul

An offensive foul in water polo is called when the player with the ball pushes off a defender to create space. It results in a turnover, giving the opposing team a chance to take possession.

#11 Penalty Shot

Awarded after a major foul committed within the 5-meter area, a penalty shot gives a player an unobstructed opportunity to score from the penalty line while only facing the goalie.

#12 Perimeter

The perimeter is the area outside the 5-meter mark around the goal, where attackers work to maneuver and create scoring opportunities, often passing to teammates until an opening arises.

#13 Quarter

Water polo games are divided into four quarters of varying lengths based on competition level. The breaks between quarters allow teams to regroup and strategize.

#14 Screen

A strategic move where an offensive player obstructs a defender without the ball, allowing a teammate to swim into open water and potentially receive a pass.

#15 Shot Clock

A shot clock limits the time a team has to take a shot on goal, which in water polo is generally 30 seconds. If a shot isn’t taken in time, the ball turns over to the opposition.

#16 Sprint

At the beginning of each period of play in water polo, players from each team sprint from their respective goal lines towards the center of the pool where the ball is released by the referee. The goal of the sprint is to gain first possession of the ball, giving that team an early advantage.

#17 Treading Water

Essential for maintaining positioning and staying afloat, treading water involves a player moving their legs in a rapid, circular motion. It’s a foundational skill that provides stability and mobility during a match.

#18 Turnover

A loss of possession occurs when the ball is stolen by an opponent or when a player makes a mistake, such as a bad pass. Turnovers can quickly shift the momentum of the game.

#19 Weak Side

The side of the pool opposite the ball’s location, often less defended. Players may move to the weak side to create scoring opportunities or to balance the offense during a play.

#20 Wing

Position on the sides of the pool, near the goal but along the perimeter. Wings are agile players who facilitate plays, pass the ball, and make quick movements to outmanoeuvre defenders.

#21 Advantage Rule

Refers to allowing play to continue when the fouled team stands to benefit from not stopping the action. It aims to maintain the game’s flow and can result in advantageous situations for the attacking team.

#22 Backhand

A swift, deceptive shot executed with the back of the hand facing the goal, making it hard for defenders and goalies to predict and block. It adds an element of surprise to the offense.

#23 Ball Out

“Ball out” is called when the ball leaves the field of play, typically when it goes over the side or end lines of the pool. The game is paused, and play is restarted by a throw-in from the team that did not touch the ball last.

#24 Dry Pass

A technique where the ball is thrown to a teammate without it touching the water, ensuring a fast and accurate pass that is easier to catch. It’s essential for quick plays and maintaining control under pressure.

#25 Front Court

The area of the pool where the offensive team sets up its attack, generally from mid-pool to the opposing team’s goal. It’s similar to basketball’s half-court, denoting the area where scoring opportunities are developed.

#26 Goal Throw

Awarded to the team on defense when the ball goes out of bounds after being touched last by an opponent on an offensive play. It restarts play from the goalie, similar to a goalkeeper’s throw in soccer.

#27 Jump Shot

A shot at goal made by a player releasing the ball at the peak of a vertical leap, often used to shoot over defenders. Like in basketball, it combines height and precision to beat the goalkeeper.

#28 Major Foul

An infraction resulting in an exclusion, where a player commits a serious offense such as pulling back, sinking an opponent, or impeding movement. These fouls can significantly impact the flow and outcome of the game.

#29 Pump Fake

A deceptive move where a player simulates taking a shot, causing defenders to react prematurely. It creates openings for a real shot or pass by momentarily throwing off the opponents’ timing and positioning.

#30 Skip Shot

A skip shot in water polo is a type of shot where the ball is thrown in such a way that it skips off the surface of the water, making it challenging for goalkeepers to predict and block.


What are some Water Polo terms for beginners?

“Ball under,” “eggbeater,” and “hole set” are some Water Polo terms beginners should start with. These introduce essential gameplay mechanics like ball possession, treading technique, and positional roles.

What are some funny Water Polo terms?

“Ball out” and “pump fake” are some funny Water Polo terms that might amuse newcomers, referring to removing the ball from play and tricking opponents without actual intent to pass or shoot.

What is a famous Water Polo phrase?

“Man-up” is a famous Water Polo phrase, indicating a team has a numerical advantage due to an opposing player’s exclusion, emphasizing strategic play to capitalize on the temporary power play.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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