Whenever I tell people my daughter plays Water Polo, they always look somewhat confused. Maybe it’s because they have never met a young girl who plays the sport, or maybe because they just don’t know the slightest thing about Water Polo and believe, like some, that it involves horses running after balls in a pool (true story). Although it’s not for everyone, I can guarantee that once you get involved either by playing or watching, you will be hooked. Exciting and fast-paced, this physical game blends the best of soccer and basketball and tosses it all into a swimming pool.
It’s not an easy game, and I don’t want to pull any punches here; try to imagine swimming while constantly being grabbed, pulled, pushed, shoved, kneed, kicked, AND YOU CAN’T TOUCH THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL. But if your kid likes water, can swim, and hasn’t quite found their niche, this could be a great option. My daughter is NOT a runner. She is big and strong and hates “land” exercise. But get this girl in a pool, and it’s a different story; she becomes fast, graceful, and explosive! All things that escaped her in the more traditional sports.
One of her coaches who played Water Polo for UCLA told me that he tried every land sport there was as a kid, but it wasn’t until someone got him in the pool that his potential was reached – and that was at age 13! This is a sport you can start later in life; many play for the first time in high school. Again, it’s not for everyone, but if you have an athletic kid who hasn’t found “their sport” yet, maybe it’s time to give it a try.
The Important Stuff To Know!
- Your child needs to be a strong swimmer or have a love for water.
- Club water polo is typically not a “cut” sport, so everyone makes it.
- Summer heat isn’t a problem; forget all those hot days on the soccer field!
- This is a sport for kids who enjoy or tolerate physical contact.
- Your child will have to wear a Speedo, or, for girls, a VERY tight bathing suit that gets jostled and pulled and ends up where the sun doesn’t shine.
- Your kid will freeze in the winter while getting into and out of pools (most of the warmer states practice in outdoor pools).
- Your child will need to be tolerant of lots of sunblock and chlorine.
- Each practice or game will burn upwards of 700 calories, and you will be feeding them constantly.
- You won’t have to deal with a lot of stinky and smelly clothes like in other sports.
- Kids come home showered and clean.
- Not a lot of people play water polo, so the competition is a much smaller pool of kids than the big four sports – so they have a better chance at being good at it.
- Many of the younger teams are mixed boys and girls
Here are ten interesting things you should know about Water Polo:
- It’s one of the oldest Olympic Team Games, first played in 1900, but Women’s Water Polo wasn’t added for another 100 years at the 2000 Sydney Games.
- The U.S. Women’s Water Polo team is favored to win the Gold in Rio for a second straight Olympics; the U.S. Men have yet to win Gold.
- “Egg Beater” is a term used to describe the motion players make with their legs while treading water.
- Players swim an average of one mile per game.
- Field players can only catch, hold, or throw the ball with one hand.
- No player is allowed to touch the bottom or sides of the pool at any time.
- An average game lasts for one hour, and it’s generally viewed as the shortest game of any team sport.
- Prince William of England was the captain of his collegiate water polo team at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland.
- Whistles constantly blow in Water Polo but rarely result in a stoppage of play like in most sports.
- The nude bronze statue at the Los Angeles Coliseum was modeled after Water Polo Olympian Terry Schroeder, currently the head coach at Pepperdine.