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Just like a chessboard with every piece pivotal to winning the game, Water Polo positions define the success of the play.

Every splash, every pass is a calculated step toward victory, orchestrated by players in positions fine-tuned for victory in the pool.

Dive in as we break down the critical roles of each position with precision.

  • The Wing is the master of maneuver, slicing through water to support attack and defense with swift agility.
  • The Driver (Flats) is the versatile playmaker, weaving through defenses to create scoring opportunities or draw crucial fouls.
  • The Point is the strategic commander, overseeing the play from the top, dictating the tempo and distribution of the ball.
  • The Center Forward (Hole Set) is the primary attacker, a powerhouse in position to turn the tide with a single shot
  • The Goalkeeper is the team’s last line of defense, guardian of the goal with reflexes as quick as a fish.
Water Polo positions as they are known:
1,5–Wing 2,4–Flat 3–Point 6–Center Forward G–Goalkeeper

#1 Wing

  • 🏆 Renowned wing players: Aleksandar Ćirić, Felipe Perrone, and Gergő Zalánki

Wings play along the sides of the pool (the “wings”) and are instrumental in maintaining width in the team’s offensive and spreading the defense. They often receive cross passes from the Point position and look to make quick drives or shots on goal.

Defensively, Wings cover the flanks and must be alert to quick counterattacks from the opposition. They use their speed to challenge the attackers’ advances, aiming to steer them towards less dangerous areas of the pool.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Speed and agility for rapid attacking and defensive transitions.
  • Good ball control and precise passing under pressure.
  • Perimeter shooting skills to capitalize on open opportunities.
  • Endurance to cover long distances up and down the pool.

#2 Driver (Flats)

  • 🏆 Renowned drivers: Tibor Benedek, Aleksandar Šapić, and Manuel Silvestri

Drivers are versatile offensive threats, often engaging in quick changes of speed and direction to create space or initiate drives toward the goal. They exploit mismatches, execute picks, and deliver assists or score from various positions.

On defense, Drivers must be able to quickly switch from an attack to a defensive stance, marking opposing players closely, intercepting passes, and applying perimeter pressure to prevent easy shots and passes.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Exceptional swimming speed and agility to execute drives.
  • Keen sense of timing for cuts and drives to the goal.
  • Ball skills for accurate passing and shooting while in motion.
  • Stamina and quick reflexes for constant movement on both ends.

#3 Point

  • 🏆 Renowned point players: Péter Biros, Tamás Kásás, and Norbert Madaras

The Point player holds a central position at the top of the offense and acts as a key distributor, setting the pace and direction of the attack. They must have a strong shot from distance and are often the initiator of passes to set up the offense, especially to the Center Forward.

On defense, the Point player is crucial in orchestrating collapses around the hole and communicating shifts to cover movements by the opposing players. They must maintain a balance to not leave too much space for counterattacks.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Leadership and strategic understanding to direct the offense.
  • Powerful and accurate long-range shooting ability.
  • Strong defensive positioning and awareness to coordinate team defense.
  • Robust endurance to stay active and mobile throughout the game.

#4 Center Forward (Hole Set)

  • 🏆 Renowned center forwards: Terry Schroeder, Manuel Estiarte, and Tony Azevedo

In offense, the Center Forward establishes position near the opponent’s goal (the “hole”) and works to either score directly through quick moves or to draw a foul or exclusion on the defender, creating man-up situations. They must excel in receiving the ball in heavy traffic and making decisive moves towards the goal.

Defensively, Center Forwards retreat to apply pressure on the counter, ensure safe coverage transition to their teammates, and at times, engage in “crashing back” to help the defense to double team the opposing Center Forward.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Strength and positioning to maintain location near the goal.
  • Evasiveness and creativity in drawing exclusions.
  • Skillful ball-handling and close-range shooting.
  • Endurance to battle physically throughout the game.

#5 Goalkeeper

  • 🏆 Renowned goalkeepers: Manuela Zanchi, Jesus Rollan, and Merrill Moses

The Goalkeeper is absolutely vital to a water polo team’s defense and serves as the last line of defense. They are responsible for preventing the ball from entering the goal, which is achieved through blocking shots, intercepting passes, and occasionally directing team defense.

Offensively, the Goalkeeper often initiates counterattacks with long passes to advancing field players, acts as a safe passing option when the offense needs to regroup, and occasionally takes shots during specific situations like penalty shots.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Outstanding reflexes and shot-blocking ability.
  • Excellent passing skills and the ability to read the game.
  • Impressive leg strength to elevate out of the water for blocks.
  • Leadership and communication skills to orchestrate the defense.

Hybrid Positions

Utility Player

A Utility Player is flexible in both offensive and defensive situations, often capable of playing multiple positions as required, enhancing team adaptability.

Attacking Defender

An Attacking Defender is skilled in traditional defense but also excels in initiating counterattacks and supporting offensive plays, providing a dual threat.

Strategic specialization in water polo is more about the fluidity and adaptability of players rather than fixed hybrid positions. Players often take on roles that blend offensive and defensive responsibilities based on the flow of the game and the strategies employed by their team.


What are the positions and roles in Water Polo?

Goalkeeper, defender, center-forward, and winger are the Water Polo positions and roles, with each requiring specific skills like defending, scoring, or playmaking.

How do I choose a position in Water Polo?

Understanding your swimming strength, ball-handling skills, and tactical awareness is how you choose a position in Water Polo. Coaches often help players find their best fit.

What Water Polo positions are for beginners?

Winger and defender are the best Water Polo positions for beginners; these roles allow new players to learn the game’s fundamentals and develop their skills with a balance of offense and defense.


In water polo, each position, from the defensive anchor Goalkeeper to the swift Drivers, is crucial.

Key offensive roles like the Point, Wings, and Center Forward work with the Center Back to counter opposition attacks.

The sport’s evolution encourages players to master various positions, showcasing adaptability.

This synergy results in a harmonious blend of strength, precision, and strategy, emphasizing that success stems from collective unity rather than individual prowess.

Water polo exemplifies the beauty of teamwork, where every player’s dedication contributes to the team’s triumph.

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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