Important Water Polo Terminology
Field Players: Players who are positioned on the outside of the umbrella offense
Wings: The 2 players who sit closer to the goal
Flats: The 2 players who sit closer to half-court
Goalie: Defends the goal and may use two hands on the ball as long as they are inside the 5-meter
line. If playing in shallow water, the goalie may stand on the bottom of the pool.
Hole set/2-meter offense: Offensive position; this player sets up at about the 2-meter line in front
of the defending team's goal. The ball is set into the hole to create movement on the perimeter.
Hole D/2-meter defense: This player defends the offending hole set by positioning themselves
between the offender and the goal. This is typically the most aggressive position to defend, and this
player will often take the point position on offense.
Point: This player sits closest to half-court. They are lined up with the hole set
and, should the ball change possession, are primarily responsible for defense.
Passing & Shooting
Dry Pass: made from one player to another that does not hit the water.
This pass is most effective the higher it is placed.
Wet Pass: This pass hits the water within reach of the receiver; it should land at
arms-length away to ensure that the defender does not interfere or steal the ball.
2-Meter Corner Throw: When a defensive player hits the ball out of bounds behind his or her goal,
a 2-meter corner throw occurs. The offensive player is allowed a free pass from the 2-meter line at
the side of the pool.
Dry Shot: Shot that occurs when the player receives the ball from a dry pass.
Most effective when the pass comes in high.
Wet Shot: In a wet shot, the player picks the ball off of the water to shoot.
Tee shots and screw shots are types of wet shots.
Skip Shot: This shot is designed to skip off of the water into the goal.
Lob Shot: This "rainbow" style shot arches high over the goalie and under the crossbar
Penalty Shot: Shot that is taken undefended (besides goalie) from the 5-meter line. Penalty shots are
rewarded when the opposing team commits Penalty or Brutality Fouls. (See Major Foul: Penalty below)
Bar-In: A shot ricochets off of a post and into the goal
Minor Foul: The player who has been fouled is awarded a free throw, which cannot be defended. If the
foul is committed outside the 5-meter line, the fouled player may take a shot at the goal. (The shot
must be in one motion, thus no pump-faking or the ball will be turned over.) Minor fouls occur most
commonly when a defender is impeding the forward movement of a player who does not have his or her
hand on the ball. Minor fouls result in turn-overs when the following occurs: holding the ball under
water, touching the ball with two hands (field players), tipping the ball out of the field of play,
delay of game, letting the shot clock expire (30 seconds).
Major Foul: (Also referred to as Exclusion, Kick out, Ejection) If a player commits a major foul, they are
excluded from the game for 20 seconds. Players may be ejected for sinking, holding, or pulling back a
player who does not have possession of the ball. Interfering with a free throw, kicking, or striking are
also cause for major fouls. After a player has commits 3 major fouls, they are removed from the game.
Major Foul: Penalty: This foul occurs inside the 5-meter line when a defender commits a foul on
a player which would have resulted in a "probable goal." Penatly fouls are most common when the
attacker is in front of the defender and gets fouled from behind. Penalties may also be called when
an ejected player prematurely re-enters the game or if there is an illegal substitution.
Less Common Fouls
Brutality: Brutalities occur rarely; the player who commits a brutality "demonstrates obvious intent
to injure another player." (usawaterpolo.org) This player is removed from the game, as well as the
next. (The player may also be removed from playing in the remainder of the tournament.) The
offended team is awarded a penalty shot from the 5-meter line.
Conduct Fouls: For coaches and players who are not in the water, inappropriate behavior results in conduct fouls.
Yellow card: Warning that someone on the bench is not acting appropriately
Red card: Individual must leave the bench, and cannot have any communication
with the team for the remainder of the game or the next game.
Other Terms Heard During a Game
"Man-Up": After a kick out, the offense will be man-up; they will
have 6 players, while the defense will only have 5.
"Man-Down": After a kick out, the defense will be man-down, having
only 5 players, and while the offense has 6.
"Slough": If the offense has a particularly strong hole set, a defender will slough off of
the player they are guarding to help defend (or double team) the hole set.
"Set": Pass to the hole set/2-meter offender
"Yellow": 10 seconds remain on shot clock
"Red": 5 seconds remain on shot clock
"Spread out" or "Umbrella": Set up a better offense by spreading out the perimeter.